Sure they improve, but how much, realistically?

I am trying to do some early culling of new seedlings.

Pretty much all of my flowers are pretty ho-hum on some of my otherwise most promising seedlings (strong health, growth, great branching early on, etc…) and I was wondering, just how much improvement can one reasonably hope for? Over the last couple years, I pretty much let nature do the culling for me, and she was pretty merciless in my no-spray garden, but I am getting to the point of a few too many strong survivors this year…

Does anyone perchance have before-and-after photos of their best “Zero-to-Hero” (or perhaps, “meh-to-yeah”) cases?

No photos, sorry, but if you’ve generated a strong, healthy, decent plant and it sets seed, KEEP IT. “Created a good plant first. It’s always easy to hang a pretty flower on it later!”

You’re not helping, KIm. :wink: Now I understand why, on a prior post, folks said culling was the hardest part of hybridizing. :slight_smile:

(To be fair, many of the roses I paid good money for would be culled if they were my seedlings of mine, based on their health… It’s funny how parting with money for junk makes one more inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt… I assume though that my issues with such are typically root stock related, or some other fluke.)

But can you quantify the amount of improvement one might hope for in blossoms?

Nope, sorry.

I have never had a seedling change colour radically from young to old. Changing overall form, yes. Increasing petal count, I think so. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever had a seedling really surprise me as it aged in terms of the quality of the flower. Pretty much what you see in the first year is what you get, for me anyway.
Last year I culled all non-rebloomers as I don’t have room to wait them out. Easy, first season. This year I am going to start a zero-tolerance-for-pink program; also easy in the first year. (Also I never cross pink with pink.)
If I culled for powdery mildew I would have zero seedlings left—it always hits me hard the first year but many of them shake it off in following years.

1 Like

I have…sort of, maybe. But it’s in the purple range that seem very climate dependent (ie hot/dry = pale, cool/wet = saturated colour…like blue for you, baby faurax, etc). First blooms were near white now they are dark purple…possibly climate (being autumn now) more than growth (the two just overlapped) but can’t confirm until the end of the year.

I’ve got, for instance, a seedling of Lemon Fizz that is perhaps not quite as saturated as LF, and I’m not sure but what the fragrance as well might even be weaker. (The first bloom was smaller, of course, than on a mature LF plant.) I am wondering if it might acquire any more saturation or fragrance as it matures.

It is regardless a keeper at this juncture, but I seriously doubt I’ll be able to pretend it’s an improvement over it’s parent. We’ll see what kind of rebloom it might offer…

Another (Carefree Beauty x Lemon Fizz) otherwise great seedling’'s first bloom was pretty insipidly colored upon opening (though I saw pale yellows and pinks between the sepals prior to opening) and I wonder too if it might show more color down the road. It too is otherwise showing some very good features, but anything that’s an improvement over others in my garden? Probably not without a more saturated bloom…

I also have some seedlings with purples in their ancestry, and naturally, the seedlings’ first blooms are yuck pink. I have a hard time holding out hope for improvement knowing the odds don’t favor such.

And then there are the ones with just plain ugly bloom forms… I wonder if I should hold out any hope that the muddle of petals, or stunted petals will resolve themselves moving forward.

It would be somewhat easy for me to start offing a great many of my seedlings, but I wonder If I’m inclined to be a bit too ruthless.

So another question might be, what percentage of seedlings do folks generally hold on to beyond, say, the 3 month mark?

(Donald, I have about a hundred Carefree Beauty seedlings right now, and I think I’m going to take your lead and go on an anti-pink tirade – particularly if they are simple, not ridiculously fragrant, or have any hint of disease. CB, surprisingly, has yielded a lot of PM-prone babies, and some with definite BS susceptibility. Kordes’ healthiest newer roses are fast becoming my go-to for strong, healthy seedlings in my climate.)

Philip, if any of these are good, solid plants, at least as good, if not better a PLANT than the parents, I’d consider trying them for further breeding with other healthy, good plants. If the flower is all that bad, dump it, unless the plant is very good. It’s very easy to make a pretty bloom. It’s far more difficult to make a good PLANT.

Philip- I am also investing in the Kordes roses as breeders; they are amazingly healthy and robust.

I am finding that as I run out of room, I have to develop strict rubrics about how I value seedlings. Colour, percent of leaves without spot at four different times of the season, plant form, etc. Everything gets rated, then everything gets sorted into highest points to lowest. Those with lowest points get shovel pruned. Yes, some may have good genes for future breeding… some may have sentimental value… some may represent really exciting, difficult crosses even though the seedling looks like every other single pink on the planet… but I am simply running out of room. Time to get ruthlesss and methodical.

This ruthlessness is paired with an increasingly sad realization that I am still not bringing anything particularly new to the business of rose hybridizing. Even my best roses are basically no different than somebody else’s good roses. What am i contributing to the market, to the discipline? I still get joy out of it for joy’s sake, absolutely. But I had dreams of, say, the first Zone 3 Hybrid Tea or the first real Zone 3 Purple or… a truly healthy Zone 3 yellow… these things still elude me.

True, that, Kim. Some of my favorite flowers, purchased because of accolades of others, would have been culled early on had they been my seedlings – well before they had a chance to bloom. (I am looking at you, Lavender Crush!) I don’t understand what passes for “disease-resistant” in some markets, but I assume I will find my own seedlings lack broad horizontal resistance. (One “nice” thing about my wonky climate and my widely acquired collection of roses, however, is that I appear to have accumulated a pretty nice panoply of maladies affording some seemingly brutal testing. Aren’t I lucky?)

Donald, for whatever it’s worth, I have found that Suzanne, Campfire, and selections of species R. setigera, woodsii, and (yawn) rugosa seem to fare pretty well down here thus far, and might be good candidates for crossing with strong Kordes roses – my current tact. I figure, if it has a reputation for hardiness and tolerates central TX, it’s gotta be a pretty good rose over a rather large range.

(FWIW, I germinated pretty large batches of both woodsii ultramontana and (presumed) fendlerii, as well as field harvested feral rugosas. Of these, the surviving seedlings are one of the woodsii’s and one rugosa, so they did self-select for my climate, and I should be cautious about over-generalizing. I don’t know which woodsii – they clearly got mixed, and the survivor was with a batch of field harvested seeds labeled as “nitida” – the only other species seed I had collected over a several year span. All the other “nitidas” expired quite quickly. I assume the likely survivor is from the presumed fendlerii/arizonica subspecies, collected in a Santa Fe public garden, poorly labeled and stored, and later mixed up with the nitidas. Hopefully I can confirm from observations down the road…)

You have to keep in mind “disease resistance” is ONLY accurate against the specific strains of the fungi which exist where it has been trialed. Resistance against black spot in Germany means pretty much squat anywhere here in the US. Until the specific races are mapped across the globe and varieties released with stated race resistance, you can’t put any real faith in a claim the rose resists black spot. Though it hasn’t been verified, I would not doubt similar situations exist for the other fungal issues, too.

Agree with the above just from a different perspective. So often the things praised on here (so…north america-ish) are not so great here in Australia. There’s a lot of posts with praise for Carefree Beauty…I can’t relate, it’s not horrible but it’s not a stand out health wise compared to the average HT here. Only held on to it due to is lineage and seems somewhat capable of accepting some wide crosses (ie Carefree Copper…I’m playing with Foetida).

Kordes on average seem better here but that’s possibly due to overlap in BS strains, given no native roses in Aus and diplocarpon rosae apparently only infecting roses have to assume it came over in the last couple hundred years add in the sorry state of things until the mid 1800’s (when free people started to come instead of just convicts) have to assume roses weren’t really bought over until around that point…which is the same time there was a significant immigration from Prussia (former state/kingdom of Germany, immigration escaping a civil war/unification war/religious persecution).

Austin’s seem bad here, some get so infected which I just find funny given history I would have assumed we’d share more BS strains with the UK…maybe they just get spotty in the UK too, also a possibility.

I don’t think I’ve had a Carruth rose (to be fair, only had a dozen or so) not experience a lot of BS, some do really bad (Julia Child, so much praise for it online, very bad here).

Haven’t really looked into the Delbards and Meilland roses. Most of what comes here from them appear to be HT’s, not my interest.

Oh and another interesting thing…some of the Rugosa’s get some sort of black spotting on their leaves here. Schneezwerg isn’t nearly as clean as Dagmar. Have grown a lot of seed from Sheffield’s seed, it’s roughly a half of the rugosa’s (alba, rubra and whatever they are selling as plain…ehh I figured I’d use a different clone than the singular one’s I could buy here, possibly some new genetics and all that) that get spotting, they all seem like straight rugosa so far foliage very like Dagmar than hybrids…it’s interesting just from the perspective of how often rugosa’s are said to be completely clean.

My observation is Rugosas, much like many of the other roses suited for short growing season, longer, deeper, colder winters, are not healthy where “summer” lasts too long. Rugosas are generally horrible in Southern California and much of the Desert South West, too, but that SHOULD be expected. It’s difficult to grow penguins in the desert. Conrad Ferdinand Meyer RUSTS horribly in SoCal and can’t be sprayed or it loses its foliage, regrows it, rusts and sheds again. The Austins bred from Meyer do the same, though they can be more successfully sprayed, if you are so inclined. The Grootendorsts black spotted horribly. All of the Rugosa hybrids, except Moore’s, rusted and black spotted horribly for me in Newhall. I won’t grow any of them again. The heat, alkalinity and aridity are too great for them to overcome, and why should they? They didn’t evolve in those conditions nor were any of the unsuccessful hybrids bred and selected in them. Moore’s fared better, but he bred and selected them in very similar conditions.

Kim, I understand what you are saying, but for me, the proof has been in the pudding, and not the hype. My Kordes roses generally fare much better for me than the “Earthkind” roses I’ve grown, and I would opine that Kordes’ self-ratings are among the most conservative and objective, in my limited experience. (I would not expect the Knock Out rose to earn a full 5 stars on Kordes’ rating system in Germany based on my experience.) I’ve found that a 4 star or higher rating from Kordes is typically a phenomenal rose in my garden (though admittedly I’m on the fence about my very young, little Beverly, also from a clearance rack. I mean, it’s a pink for goodness sake – It really needs to be beyond phenomenal to be a pink Kordes, IMHO, but it is only recently planted after severe neglect…). I can’t say that for any other line of roses. Furthermore, the Kordes, to date, have consistently given me the strongest seedlings of the roses I’ve thus far been working with (which admittedly is a somewhat limited selection due to the diseases so many highly-praised American cultivars have suffered).

I suspect that for folks who pamper, spray, and fertilize the heck out of their plants, the Kordes would be underwhelming, but as someone who is breeding for carefree and chemical-free plants in hot, humid Texas, my current stance is that there is tremendous value in them. My first experience was from a too-cheap-to-pass-up Lemon Fizz off a clearance rack more than a half-dozen years ago. I was underwhelmed with the idea of it until after I had it for a year or two. I had never seen anything so resilient and stubborn (with the possible exception of Pink Pet/Caldwell Pink) despite the deplorable abuse it suffered in its original pot for two years. And I had always thought of yellows as disease-prone. (Mind you, I concede that Limoncello and Carefree Sunshine are both more floriferous, if not quite as healthy. for me.)

I don’t know of other rose programs that have, for so many years, been 100% committed to no-spray programs as Kordes, nor that have been germinating and trialing numbers anywhere approaching their program, so I should not think it too surprising, in view of their goals, that they have created a number of phenomenally healthy plants.

Having said that, I may have spoken a little too soon about some of the species roses… I saw some spotting beginning on those now that they’ve been relocated to the fungus farm section of the yard.

I don’t know. I think your conditions in Cal differ enough from here despite similar daylight/long summers/heat. Sydney is straight up acid soil, the whole region is largely a flood plain protected by dams…but for centuries/millennia beforehand large run off from the forest mountains into largely neutral sandstone. It also generally rains all year, no real dry season (just dry years related to the drought cycle). Many rugosa do well here, just Schneezwerg gets cruddy with black blemishes on most of it’s leaves. Corylus in theory should be cruddy too given the Nitida but it’s not. Dagmar is flawless and copes with extreme heat as well as Bracteata (ie neither show signs of stress or burn), etc then there’s Ann Endt, Calocarpa and Therese Bugnet which also have no real issues (but they don’t really have the traditional rugosa foliage).

It’s just interesting the seedlings have split pretty evenly like the below (colours are off, it’s cloudy/sunset). One in the front has some issue (others have it over most of their plant), the one behind it is spotless. Both are coming to the end of their first season.
Soon all will start yellowing and drop leaves, Dagmar will yellow without blemishes as too I imagine the clean seedlings…the others though are a bit gross.

Yes sir, our conditions are pretty much polar opposites from each other. We are highly alkaline and arid. Rains come during a four to five month period in “winter”, usually, IF they come at all. Most “soils” range from sand to decomposed granite and hard pan clay. The issue is, the “summer growth season” is far too long and most of the shorter season requiring roses simply burn out. I’m sure Nature uses diseases to “tell” them when to shed foliage and harden off for cold weather. Unfortunately, the diseases occur here long before any shut down should be required and they would never be necessary to provide the kind of cold hardiness the rose genes want to provide as that kind of cold never occurs.