Some beginner questions

Hi to all and thanks in advance for your answers.

This is my first yearly membership of RHA, I grow roses in Italy and never posted before because I consider myself a beginner in hybridizing so I hope my questions won’t be too obvious to you.

I would like to understand if there’s a site or a list of diploids, tetraploids etc roses varieties.

I’ve red the Association “The next step” on page 44 where James Sproul explain a way to catalog the seedling characteristics. I would like to undestand what the “seedling code” mean (for example CHAD B-20): if it’s the internal nursery ID or if it has some other means. I also saw some codes assigned to hips in some photos around the net (for example the code R-15 in this photo




Hi Alessandra,

I would like to understand if there’s a site or a list of diploids, tetraploids etc roses varieties.

David Zlesak has been steadily building his own database and shares it here from time to time. Search on “ploidy” here for his posts and others. Also, his data and others show up on many of the entries on

I would like to undestand what the “seedling code” mean

People generally use a system of their own creation. Jim Sproul will need to tell you his system, but basically you should create your own method of cataloging your crosses and seedlngs, making it something that is meaningful to you. For instance, I record my crosses in a database in which each cross gets a unique number and then use that number to catalogue seedlings - 06-125-2 means the second seedling from cross number 125 done in 2006.

Have fun. Where are you in Italy?

Hello Don, thanks for the answer.

Now I live in northern Italy, near Venice in USDA Zone 8 (but my grandparents were dutch as you can see from my surname).

For those who are interested I can provide seeds or something within my possibilities and availability.

I have a passional attitude due to my creative and literary background, but I understand how hybridization is also a matter of method which I hope will learn.

The first crosses I made were influenced by enthusiasm for certain rose varieties, now I will focus on some simple bloom roses (wild roses) to which I will try to give some hultemia persica features.

Don, can you provide a link to a picture gallery of your creations so I can understand your work?




In my family, the Dutch name was on my mother’s side. I’m not sure what breeder code I’d assign to that, but the patrilineal model was applied, and I’m a Harris. But my first name was my Dutch great-grandfather’s first name. Coincidentally, he was a gardener. I have his wooden shoes. My feet are bigger than his were. I don’t know whether he grew roses, but I suspect he grew mostly perennials, annuals, and food crops of various kinds.

When I began hybridizing roses in 1972, I used a simple code–a number for each cross. I believe I used that system for 2 years, labeling crosses of 1973 with the next number after the final number used in 1972. When seeds germinated, I labeled each seedling with the last 2 digits of the year, the cross number, and a number for the seedling. Thus, the 10th seedling from that cross was 72-13-10. It worked, but I frequently forgot the names of the parents in the cross.

Then in 1973 or 1974, I think, I read a suggestion (I don’t remember by whom) in the RHA Newsletter. The suggestion was to use a letter for the seed parent and a number for the pollen parent so that it would be easier to remember the parentage of a particular cross. I’ve used some variation of that idea ever since. For 2 years I used single letters (A, B, C, etc) + a number. After the second year I had mostly exhausted the alphabet and had begun doubling letters for the seed parents (e.g, GG17). I could see that this system would lead to unwieldy codes, so I switched things around for the next 2 years, putting the number for the seed parent and the letter for the pollen parent. It was just a convenience for me in labeling the crosses both on the bush and on tags in the flats where I sowed the seeds.

If you look in HelpMeFind, you will find some of my roses–not all, by any means, but some–K16-01, 11D-01, F5-01, and others. R15, which you mentioned, is also one of mine from a cross 30 years ago. In that year (1978), I had almost finished my crosses for the season when some pollen (of ‘Hazeldean’) arrived from Canada. I had only 2 roses in bloom, ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and ‘Golden Showers’. I had used only 14 kinds of pollen that year, so ‘Hazeldean’ became 15. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was already seed parent Q and ‘Golden Showers’ was already parent R. Thus, all the seedlings from ‘Queen Elizabeth’ x ‘Hazeldean’ were Q15 + a number. The first one was the best, Q15-01. Likewise, with the R15 cross (‘Golden Showers’ x ‘Hazeldean’), the first seedling to bloom was the best. R15-01 has proved to be a worthwhile parent despite 1ts being triploid (which I didn’t know until this year) and its blooming only once.

There you have it, in far more detail than you’d dreamed you wanted. Some people put a lot more information in their codes. The important thing to remember, if any of this is important, is that the code is there for your convenience and information. If a rose company decides to test your rose, the rose company will have its own code for the rose. And if the rose is entered into a competition, it may gain yet another code. If the rose is registered with the IRAR, it will have a code beginning with a 3- or 4-letter code for the name of the hybridizer or the company that registers it. You can find these names in HelpMeFind (HMF) for each rose that has been registered. In addition, roses that are introduced usually get what is called a commercial synonym. Brief example: The Kordes rose originally given the breeder’s code/name Korp (which doesn’t sound very good–like maybe the manifestation of a digestive problem) is better known as ‘Prominent’. And commercial synonyms may be different from country to country, as you’ll see in HMF.

After reading this you may develop a “code” in your head. If you do, I hope you get well soon.

I see I’ve forgotten to write about where to find ploidy numbers for garden roses. Some are listed in HMF; others, in articles by Anne P Wylie and others. I’ll put a link for one article which you may find useful. And you can find some more recent counts by searching this forum.



Sorry, Alessandra, but I have no seedlings at the moment to photograph. I’ve been working with R. omeiensis pteracantha which seems to not want to cooperate. In years past we didn’t have digital cameras so I have no photos of my earlier seedlings either.

Have you been to Roseto Carla Fineschi? They have quite a number of extremely rare roses that might interest you for your breeding program. Toni Lander, Villa de Madrid and Shiralee are three worth mentioning as being very strong producers of pelargonidin that might be able to pass these genes on but have been little used in breeding. They also have National Flower Guild, Lemania, L


Ciao Peter, your answer is very notable and clear.

Thank you very much, also for the link.

My approach so passionate and no much scientific, is giving me great emotions, even if, my dogs have found very tast

Hi Alessandra,

Yes, as mentioned above, we all have coding systems that work for us. The codes are helpful in identifying the parent plants, though this is not important for registering or selling a rose.

“CHAD” was an example of a coding system that I used early on. The first two letters were for the seed parent and the second two letters for the pollen parent. In this case the cross was ‘Chipmunk’ X ‘Apricot Donna’, or CH X AD. I abandoned that system after multiple generations resulted in very long codes like CHLYTRHTSRRCTRT. Now I use a letter, for the year of my hybridizing (I started with “A” for the first year that I planted seedlings in our greenhouse). This is then followed by a number. The number is determined by the order in which the seeds were planted in the greenhouse. With this newer method, CHAD became B-20, and CHLYTRHTSRRCTRT became G16-2. The “-2” is added to indicated that it is the second seedling of that particular cross that I saved for further evaluation. This system is not my own, but was adapted from the coding system that Tom Carruth, of Weeks Roses, uses.

Hope that helps!

Jim Sproul

Hi Jim!

Thank you very much, now i got it.

I’ll try to develop my own code.