Streamlining Goals

What kind of goals do you have in terms of number of hips from specific crosses?

Are you mostly experimenting with lots of different crosses, having a fewer number of hips per cross - or are you focusing your work with specific crosses, having many hips produced for each cross?

I tend to do too many experimental crosses (fewer number of hips produced per cross), but also do some crosses repeatedly. I think that a combination strategy would be best: experiment some, but then really focus on certain crosses in the next year that proved interesting with the experimental crosses.

Jim Sproul

Right now I’m experimenting to see which parents transmit which qualities. Some of this using my own seedlings.

I also do many experimental crosses but some of this is paying off. I am getting seedlings which should lead to accomplishing future goals.

One never knows what will work. I can repeat some of these now that I know they are fertile.

I had some success with wide species crosses this year which should prove interesting though they will now take another generation or two to get repeat flowering.

Several crosses from last season appear to be complete failures or have very limited fertility. Other crosses are amazingly fertile.

We never know until we try!

Im the same as Jim until I find a favorite that I know is not being explored by mainstream to death. For example, I really love Solitaire and use it a lot.

As you might have gathered from my previous postings, my focus has been on making species crosses. Some of these are very difficult to achieve; some are nearly impossible. But that’s part of the allure, for me. So, in these cases, even one hip with one seed can be an exciting success.

Later, after I get a “corral-full” of breeders with interesting backgrounds, I’ll probably shift my focus more towards crosses that are more productive of hips and seeds – especially since, in most cases, I’ll need to grow a large number of seedlings to recover a few repeat-blooming ones.

But, I still do what you mentioned… I experiment around on a smaller scale [among the species] and as I find things that seem to be especially promising, I’ll focus more energies on that cross [and/or analogous ones] during the next season.


I like dealing in volume. Collecting as many op hips and intentional crossings of winter hardy species and hybrids, getting them up and in the ground so that out of the hundreds I may have a chance of a few future breeders with the characteristics I’m looking for. My goal is winter hardy (meaning no protection in zone 3, 4), disease resistant large climbers with attractive recurrent bloom.

But for fun I can’t resist doing some unlikely crosses for a few hips.

I’m in the “building parents” stage. I’m trying to put together crosses that will create potential parents that will be heterozygous for as many attributes as possible, with the exception of disease resistance and winter hardiness. I’m including miniatures in this because I’m hoping that most of my future parents will be small in stature, otherwise space will become an issue. So right now I am in the experimenting phase, but some day I hope to be a bit more focused on just a few combinations.


Since I am now getting close to finishing my collection of roses that I have wanted to use as parents, I have started to think about how I want to use each of them.

I think I am going to fall into the ‘repeating planned crosses many times on specific parents’ category. The result would be many hips(hopefully anyhow) from a smaller set of crosses. It is my intention to repeat certain crosses many times over several years in an effort to evaluate what kind of results I am getting. As of right now, I am not sure how log it will take me to become discouraged by poor results from specific crosses. That ‘frustration’ threshold will determine how many times I try to repeat a specific cross.

I have a set of yellow, yellow blend roses that I want to attempt using the pollen of several hardy roses on.

Some examples. I would like to repeat Golden Glow x Apple Jack as many times as pay patience will allow. I want to try Genn Dale x Apple Jack several times as well. I would like to use Beauty of Leafland, J5 and Williams double Yellow with Golden Glow, Glenn Dale, TopRose, Chinatown and Autumn Sunset.

I dont have a huge variety of roses so I will end up trying similar crosses over and over until something that I really like shows up or I get bored.

Not saying I wont take the opportunity to try other crosses if they avail them selves. I have several Buck roses that I would like to experiment with. I really want to try Golden Unicorn with something that is a little more color stable. GU fades to fast. In cool weather GU is such a pleasing color. I am going to see how Cal Polly and Ty might work on GU.

My Toprose arrives this week, Steven. I hope it’s a good parent like it’s relative, Solitaire. It seems to have foliage similar to Arthur Bell.

I sort of consider my approach to hybridizing to be like hunting with a shotgun. I point in a general direction and see what I can hit. If I aim in the same direction a second time, it is unlikely the individual pellets from the shotgun bullet are going to hit the exact same spot again the second time. In other words, it is rare that I will do the exact same cross more than once. However, from one year to the next I do find myself zeroing in on particular parents and more specifically, like Jadae, on parents that others might not be using that extensively, but that I found to provide promising traits (a few for me are Purple Passion and Scentimental). So, to continue with the hunting analogy, I guess you could say I start to have a fondness for a particular brand of ammo. LOL

I’m not sure how others “group” their parents or if anyone really does. But, I tend to group “known” parents into three different classes based on what trait I am breeding for that they excel in the most. The foliage group (those that their best feature is excellent foliage/disease resistance), those that are floriferous (their best feature is the amount of bloom), and those with fragrance. I don’t distinguish based on class of rose at all….so a miniature could be put in the same group as a floribunda, or HT, or OGR…it just depends on the individual strength of the rose. Obviously many parents overlap, but for the most part, they are assigned to a primary group, and then perhaps a secondary group for some roses. I then make crosses between the groups but not within the group. So a foliage parent is crossed with a floriferous parent, and they may or may not have fragrance as a secondary trait in common. I try to make sure that when I cross between two primary groups that at least one parent has a strong secondary in the third group. So, that would mean, for example, that I try never to have a cross between a strong foliage parent and strong fragrance parent, where neither have a secondary strength in the amount of bloom. I do also look at form when making crosses and try to get one parent to have that as well. However, I do not group them by their form….it is a desired trait, but not a trait that dictates the cross.

Typically what ends up happening is roses will originally be classified in a group based on their own performance in the garden. I will then often go back and reclassify them after I have used them for a bit and group them based on traits I can associate directly to them as being dominant in their offspring.

But, getting back to the question that was really asked….I would say more recently, I have decided to go back and repeat for the first time, a handful of crosses that produced small quantities per cross, but yet still produced a wide range of traits in the seedlings (within that same cross) AND some of the best of my earlier seedlings. But again, even that will be in limited numbers. Unless a particular cross produced less than 15-20 seedlings and all were extremely different, then I would expect to get more of what I have already gotten from the cross…and for me, with my limited space and time….well, I would rather spend the limited resources on a cross that is more likely to produce something unique and not too close to what I already have. Perhaps that is short sighted of me……but, I have a low tolerance for anything that is predictable……which for anyone who knows me, is a big contributor in why I end up tossing so many pink seedlings! I have absolutely no doubt that there is virtue and value in repeating a cross over and over again to get that 1 seedling that is different and above the rest. However, I don’t have that kind of time on my hands these days…so, get me the shotgun and with a modest amount of focus, I’ll see what I can hit! LOL

BTW…I don’t hunt…so I have no idea where the hunting analogy came from. LOL

Well now, Jim, in theory I believe in doing lots of controlled “planned” crosses – not for any practical reason, but because I want to delude myself into thinking that, should I get a great cross, I can tell myself that great planning went into it…

The fact of the matter is, based on my limited experience, the little buggers tend to do whatever they want regardless of one’s best laid plans. You, Jim, probably germinate a lot more seedlings than most of us, and would presumably have a better chance of realizing the goals of a specific cross than most of us were you to focus massive resources on one cross. But then diversifying your… ah… portfolio is always a good way to decrease your odds of focusing too many resources on a bad plan. You are presumably taking notes and learning more through your diversity – provided you aren’t making too many broad generalizations based upon limited use of one cultivar…

I, ideally, select parents based not merely on their phenotype, but on that of their relatives (hence my posts inquiring as to qualities of sister seedlings). Since such a small fraction of a rose’s genotype is expressed, I feel pedigree is every bit as interesting as the individual cultivar itself.

On the flip side, if a cross appears untried, yet promising, I would be all over it…

I have no number of hips from cross goal. I like to have ample progenies from each cross as I more and more avoid repeating them. When a parent is used again my goal is to use an offspring of the other parent that I hope will correct what worked not well enough in the initial cross.

Yearly a group of mothers is selected and another of fathers. These groups content shifts steadily with newer selected seedlings entering. All mothers as well as most fathers are seedlings of mine actually. For the pollination period all mothers flowers are used with the best fresh pollen available.

Yearly I also sow some smaller OP seed lots from mothers often not from my seedlings that I consider and would like to know seed germinability and influence on progenies.

I could explain it (the analogy) in personality psychology, Mich, but you may get bored :stuck_out_tongue:

Regardless, it doesnt suprise me that our “tactics” are similar.

For me, I tend to get frustrated with having many smaller lots of seedlings. For example, following 200 seeds from the same cross from hips, to shelling, to planting, and seedling evaluation is easier than doing the same with 20 different lots of 10 seeds each.

Robert, I agree that it is worth it just to try something that perhaps no one else has tried.

Jadae, I think that it is also fun to do crosses that give a wide range of characteristics - and then make repeated crosses with those parents.

Tom, you are doing the very hard work of braking new ground! It will be interesting to hear of your successes. You are right that a single germination of a highly desirable, yet difficult cross can be very cool. Finding bridges to bring those traits into mainstream sounds great.

Lori, it sounds like you have done a good job to define your goals. Knowing where you want to go is solving a big part of the challenge. Having a climate that tests your seedlings for desired traits helps much too. I would have a hard time breeding for cold hardiness. I have to cross my fingers and hope that the better seedlings may do well in the cold. I tend to think that seedlings that lose their leaves in the fall here are more likely to be cold hardy (rather than the ones that stay green and you have to pry off the leaves to simulate dormancy!) Have you noticed that?

SteveJ, I agree that having good parents is an important step to achieving goals.

Michelle, I like your shotgun approach! Blam!, blam!, blam! - and you will be sure to get some interesting catches! Now, let’s say that you get 2 or 3 really great catches shooting in a particular direction or part of the forest, are you tempted to really spray the field with shot to see if there is even a better catch?!

Philip, rose breeding sure does seem like a crap shoot - when something good comes of our plans, it is easy to think that somehow we had by carefully planning, arrived at success! I think that diversification is a must for the big company rose breeders, and to an extent might be helpful to all of us. An advantage that we have over the big company rose breeders is that we can risk all of our resources in a particular direction and effectively compete with them in that particular area. Of course, it may turn out to be a lot of work for nothing, but the unpredictable results are part of the fun!

Pierre, I tend to follow a strategy similar to yours. Each year new seedlings are brought in as parent plants that are themselves approximations of my goals. Nearly all of my seed parents are seedlings of mine, while I will use various commercial varieties as pollen parents. I plant a fair number of OP seeds from my newest selected seedlings in search of good germinating seed parents. When found, these are brought into the breeding program. With this years batch of OP seedlings I found two of my repeat blooming hulthemia seedlings that have turned out to be very good hip setters and germinaters. These will be used much in crosses this year.

Jim Sproul

Jim - I am a master gardener that has been working with the Earthkind rose trials and have been bitten with the hybridizer bug. I am a greenhorn and I do mean green. I have no goals to streamline yet but have been thinking of working with chinas and polyanthas. I read pierre’s post on plant architecture with great interest and believe that is the way I want to go. I did try some carefree beauty op’s and have a great number of seedlings up and growing. I plan on making crosses using Orleans rose, marie pevie, old blush, La marne, marie dayly and mutabilis. I have learned a great deal from all of you folks posts but i have a long way to go. thank you. Fred Perkins

Fred, you will love this hobby. As for goals, to start with you might consider looking at a bunch of roses at a public rose garden or established nursery and see what bushes catch your eye. I would suggest looking at the plants more than the blooms because the potential seedling blooms will change more than the plant structure of the parents. Also, we tend to be swayed in our choices by the pretty flowers. Whatever catches your eye might be a good place to start!

Jim Sproul

Jim - Your advice well taken. I will take a look. Yhank you. Fred Perkins

Jadae, yep…not surprised here either to see the similarities. As for the analogy, does this go back to my ENTJ thing?? LOL

Jim, my answer is not particularly straight forward. It really depends on the overall scenario. It is yes, IF the 2 or 3 seedlings from the same cross were very different from each other AND in a batch that showed a lot of diversity in the offspring. That is actually something I am going back to do for the first time this year and next year. I will be repeating some of my earlier crosses, but only about 3 and I will probably only try those repeat crosses about 2 or 3 times. Conversely, if I got 2 or 3 from a cross in which the offspring were all very similar, with little divergence in color, growth habit, bloom form…I would likely keep only the best from that cross and not repeat the cross again, but rather, use the offspring and see where that leads. I will however, make sure that if I did not already do the reverse cross, that I try to do that the next year.

Now, what I do follow up on, is parents that consistently produce certain traits. I definitely zero in on specific parents or trends in seedlings. If I get a couple of really good seedlings from a cross between rose “A” and rose “B”, but all of the seedlings were very similar, I likely won’t repeat that exact cross. BUT, I may cross rose “A” with rose “C” that has similar traits to rose “B”. Or cross rose “B” with rose “D” that has similar traits as rose “A”. Hope that was not too confusing. LOL

To be perfectly honest, I know my tactics will likely change as I “mature” as a hybridizer. However, I think right now, my approach really feeds a number of requirements for me;

  1. Learn about a lot of roses in a shorter period of time (Important for me, because I feel like there is an endless amount of rose material out there to work with…and before I “marry” one particular area or direction…I want to play the field a little first. LOL )

  2. Try not to completely ignore “progress” in a particular direction, while still taking the exploration approach. That is why I will try similar combinations…but not the same cross very often.

  3. Try not to get bored. I don’t think I have a short attention span, per se…but I do actually like more variety with larger numbers of crosses. For me, since I don’t have large growing tables (which I would actually love to build here at our new place), the effort of tracking more crosses with fewer numbers per cross is just as easy/difficult as tracking fewer crosses with higher numbers per cross. They all get potted up one at time either way.

Here is a short story that is a good illustration of what I mean by “bored”. Two years ago I had a Gemini x Day Breaker cross that produced a HUGE amount of seedlings for me, from one hip. However, seedling after seedling opened to reveal a first bloom that was a high centered HT form, and always an orange yellow in color. Occasionally there might be a hint of pink in there on the edges…but they were definitely orange yellow blends. Foliage varied slightly…but not by much. Most had foliage similar to Day Breaker and branching was strong on all of the seedlings. By the time the 40th seedling was about to bloom, I could predict exactly what it was going to look like just from looking at the bud. I had just had so many that looked so similar. I ended up keeping about 8 seedlings from that batch for the first year, and then narrowed it down over time to the 3 I currently have. The 5 I discarded were good roses…they just were too close in appearance and performance to the other 3. Now, admittedly I did not try breeding with all 8, and in hindsight, I should probably have kept them long enough to do that. But, our housing move popped up, and mass culling ensued. LOL In any event, chances are it will be many, many years before I become interested in try that cross again (if ever). BUT, I will be trying the reverse cross this year. I tried the reverse cross the same year, but it did not make it to maturity…so I will give it a go again this year…AND I may actually try it more than once since it did not set last time.

Boy, I really get long winded when I get on this forum. LOL

Wow, you remember ENTj, lol. In terms of type psychology, yes. The breakdown of the ENTj ego is similar to the ENFj ego (mine). In an ENTj psycho-type, the dominant ego is known as extroverted logic (a life-long preference for the judgement of facts, known truths, applications, practical usage of survival, etc.). In stark contrast, an ENFj psycho-type’s dominant ego is known as extroverted ethics (interpersonalization, etc). But they both have the same perception known as introverted intuition (abstract perception…not hocus pocus, lol). It is known for a life-long preference of abstracting time out into a single, whole perception (as opposed to it’s opposite-- perceiving the subjective sensantions into oneself).

Every combination of psycho-type has an intertype relation. ENTj/ENfj is known as Look-A-Like. Without getting long-winded, it basically means that theyre extremely similar, sympathize with one another’s issues, but live in a different realm of inate value. so, superficially, they seem extremely similar.

As you can see, both types are heavy on the academic memory.

It really creeps me out when we talk about rose breeding. It’s like we see from the same lens sometimes. It’s almost disturbing when psychological theories feel true =/

Jadae, did you just call me a superficial psycho?? I was reading rather fast. But, I distinctly saw those two words in there somewhere. LOL Obviously, just kidding.

Seriously though, I agree. Quite often there is a great deal of similarity in our approach and point of view. We don’t always choose the exact same roses, but we seem to converge on very similar traits or parallel paths. Although, I have to admit, I do take a hard look at roses you mention…very much with the thought that there are likely traits in your rose choices that I will find of interest to me.

Michelle, I will have to try the ‘Gemini’ X ‘Day Breaker’ cross this year. That combo sure seems like it could produce a winner. The coloring you describe is similar to a bunch I got from ‘Gemini’ X ‘Sunset Celebration’.

I am having to put my ‘Gemini’ outdoors this year. Parent plants that I use repeatedly in the greenhouse tend to become infested with scale over time. I have found that they improve when I put them outside (where I don’t spray at all).

With a larger number of seedlings from the same cross, it is not unusual to find another sub-population of seedlings showing a different set of traits.

One cross that I really liked was ‘Fairhope’ X ‘Hot Tamale’. During five of the last 11 years, I did that cross as follows:

5 hips → 27 seeds

? hips → 500 seeds

77 hips → 537 seeds

26 hips → 259 seeds

135 hips → 1332 seeds

I kept repeating the cross to try to get another seedling like the one that I named after my daughter, ‘Baby Claire’. It turns out ‘Baby Claire’ appears to be completely sterile. I had hoped to get something like it or better, that would be fertile. The last year that I did the cross was 2004, though I had many seedlings, only one was kept. The one kept is very different from ‘Baby Claire’. It is somewhat like ‘Incognito’, good form, but doesn’t have the yellow reverse.

Jim Sproul