Selfing for traits

Okay, I know that selfing could bring out many bad traits in a rose, but I could not resist to make many selfs this spring. Kordes had used many selved seedlings of Zambra, Poppy Flash, etc,. in his breeding program. For example, 'La S


I think selfing holds alot of promise in our amateur breeding efforts. With the complex geneology of most modern roses, you have seen the great variability in the types of seedlings you get from any given cross.

Think of the one nice seedling you have as just one combination of all the genes present. When you self that seedling you “roll the dice” and get another manefestation of the potential contained in that seedling. The segregation of characters that occurs when you self a hybrid rose can be mostly poor traits, but equally possible is a seedling that expresses the best of what the genes have to offer.

As with all our hybridized seedlings, if we evaluate them and find them to be undesireable then we toss them out, but when we get the really nice one we keep it and study its potential.

Many of the famous breeders obtained good parent stocks by using selfed seedlings that were better than the parent in some way.

About half of the seeds I have stratifying this year are selfs from some of my seedlings that have interesting parents but aren’t really special. I’m hoping that some of the better qualities of one or both of the parents will segregate into some really nice seedlings. I’ll be sure to post if I get any exceptional seedlings from these seeds.

I have read that some of the “seedling x seedling” roses listed are quite likely OP seeds (selfs?) that the breeder couldn’t bring himself to admit was not a “planned cross”.

Interesting topic, I look foreward to hearing what others have to say.

Randy Hughes, Vancouver WA

I think selfing is interesting: for me it is the only way what recessive traits are in a rose. with selfing, you will see what bad traits she can have in her genome, but too what interesting recessive traits (e.g. a interesting recessive color) are there… I try it actually on an hybrid I made, probably: (Mutabilis x Toby Tristam). I have 2 sisters roses of this cross, I tried too the cross of the 2 sisters, another way of inbreeding…

Im no expert but I think it has potential if the breeder is responsible. Sea Foam is an excellent example, many of the top roses today are derived from what could be called trash (inbred). Then again, most modern roses are inbred or line bred in some form or another. I guess it is just the variation of strength that is the issue. Ole, Shadow Dancer and Zambra are also good examples. Probably tons more, too.

I think the action of crossing sister seedlings is called sibbling, is that right? I’ve frequently heard that this is a waste of time, but nobody has ever given me a reason why.


One of the reasons that some may think that it is a waste of time is the thinking that you are just going backward through generations that an earlier hybridizer had looked at. Of course, the error in that thinking is that no earlier hybridizer or hybridizers looked at a sufficient number to see all of the possibilities. Plus, even if one of them had seen a rose similar to what you produce; he may have rejected it because his critera were different than your critera.

Most of David Austins breeding program relies heavily on inbreeding. :slight_smile:


Very interesting. I’m learning more and more just by reading these threads.

I was going to try this with my favorite dark red. As I didn’t “hear” anything to persuade me otherwise, I think I’ll give it a go.


I am not sure dark reds are the best for that try. inbreeding can give less vigorous plants (it was not my problem, the 2 plants I used are more than 10 meters tall, with sprouts up to 5 m a year). Dark red have often a little lack of vigour, maybe (I think I read that in a David Austin book, and observed it too).

What I learned about inbreeding from raising livestock (and reading about it) was that inbreeding AND rigerious culling have the potential to produce usefull bloodlines. Interestingly enough, if your founding stock is already inbred, you often have better luck. I’m assuming that is because a number of bad recessive genes have already been eliminated from the gene-pool. Many of the bad examples of inbreeding seem to be the result of non-selective inbreeding. I would think that would not be a major concern with roses, since breeders already are used to culling their seedlings.

So it is all about selection-- I’m just wondering, how many generations does it take to have a ‘pure’ breeding rose from a modern rose? Just always wanted to know. Never have been intrested in doing it.


Oh! Dont forget about Trier, too. Supposedly inbred. Just out of curiousity, could inbreeding be used for advancement in ploidy? For example, a selfed triploid that gives fertile seeds. As another example, a difficult parent with poor fertility that is inbred to select a more fertile line? Im not sure if those are 100% viable or whatnot but it’s interesting to ponder none the less.

Selfing a triploid could give you a more fertile tetraploid. It might also give you a diploid or triploid seedling. I got some seeds this year from the cross New Dawn X New Dawn. New Dawn is a triploid that doesn’t produce many seeds for me. I’m hoping for a more fertile tetraploid from the seedlings.

Enrique, when commercial corn hybridizers want to breed pure inbred lines, they generally do self-crosses for about 7 generations. I’d guess roses would be similar.

Triploids, self-fertilization? Now that just went over my head. And that is why I don’t really trust breeding records of hybrid musks-- seems improbable to me, unless the ploidy ‘splits’ in an odd way. But I think that ‘New Dawn’ is actually and tetraploid, and not a fertile triploid.

I mean, if ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’, its’ parent, is a once bloomer, it only has a single gene for remotancy. So if ‘New Dawn’, which is fully remotant, is a sport of the good doctor, then where is the 2nd recessive gene coming from? Now that is what confuses me. In general, rose genetics is just a head scratch for me.

Jadae, ‘Trier’ is soppose to be an open pollinated seedling of 'Agla

Trier has different parentages in all my books and net resources. One states the cross you explained, some state unknow or various and some state a self. Who knows? My point was rare instances, where something that one thinks to be sterile or near sterile has set seed by itself (could even possibly even be OP with another type). I couldnt imagine that too much time would be wasted in exploring the possibility that nature gifted someone with a new avenue. Of course, Im thinking on the same lines as with African Cichlids (fish) I used to raise. Sexual morphing was quite common because of unstable genetics and habitat. Hybrid roses have never been the picture of stability.

Enrique, there isn’t a gene for remontancy. Rather there are genes that control the normal once-a-year-blooming cycle. A mutation in one of those genes can disrupt the normal bloom cycle, resulting in repeat blooming. It only takes a simple point mutation to disable a gene. It was probably a point mutation that knocked out one of the bloom cycle control genes in Dr. Van Fleet and resulted in New Dawn.

There are several other cases of once-blooming roses that sported to repeat bloomers. For example, White Pet is a repeat blooming sport of Felicite et Perpetue.

Trier is diploid, which makes it more likely to be a self of Aglaia than a cross with Mrs R.G. Sharman-Crawford.

There is a widespread confusion in rose kingdom concerning “selfed”, "open

pollinated", “bee polinated” and also “unlabeled” or “lost label”…

Most diploids have been shawn as having various degrees of autosterility.

All as well as most/many tetraploids are preferential outbreeders.

The more likely selfpolinated progenies I saw the less promising were the seedlings.

That is probably why very few vars are realy from such crosses when getting these seeds is

so much easier.

By the way La Sevillana is a Meilland var.

However there is a possibility that selfing seedlings with new features and/or from wide

crosses such as Autin’s initial ones may be more productive.

There is more than one story about Sea foam. The more likely in my opinion is from

open pollination (cross and sib) and close growing plants.

Friendly yours

Pierre Rutten

This thread is very intresting…

Now a different question.

Could traits disappear from the gene pool? I have always wondered that if a rose has been breed for certain characteristics, and the others ignored, is it possible that those overlooked genes eventually disappear? If we cross two hybrid teas, we most likely get repeat blooming roses. But could there ever be a once-blooming hybrid tea from such inbreed roses? Is it possible that a “lost” trait to reappear several generations later from the most unlikeliest (I hope that is a word) crosses. I could had sworn that I read an article from Kordes about a hybrid tea with rugosa foilage he breed whose parents had non-rugose leaves, but one was descended from several generations of a rugosa.


I’m not quite sure what you are referring to when you talk about the gene pool. Are you talking about specific breeding lines, or the whole gene pool of the rose family, or something in between? Whenever different forms of a gene exist (alleles), it is possible that alleles can get lost, but (probably) genes can