Survival Rates?

There is a lot of talk about germination rates, but I’d like to hear your experiences with survival rates after germination. Henry Kuska told me that there often is a difference in germination rates between ripened hips and greener hips. Apparently, the greener hips yield seeds which germinate at a significantly higher rate, but have a much lower survival rate overall. So survival rates do have some variability, it appears. I’ve always had some germinating seeds which, after being potted, did nothing. But this year it seems like that’s almost all I’m having. I know I have more seeds to “play” with this year, so it stands to reason I’ll have more “duds” as well. Once you have a seed which has germinated, what is your expectation for its survival to blooming stage? I don’t know why these aren’t growing. I see no evidence of mold or other problems. They just aren’t coming up once I remove them from the paper towel and pot them up. I’m not even coving the “head” of the seed, just the root.

While I’m at it, what soil medium are you using for growing those seeds that have just germinated? So far, I’ve been using a regular Miracle Grow soil and I’m wondering if that is somehow the problem.

Thanks for your ideas and advice!


That’s a great question Alicis. I’ve found variability for survival based on family. Many of my rugosa x non-rugosa seedlings especially have somewhat lower survival rates because of “hybrid breakdown”- genetic confusion (>50% died before being planted out in spring). Otherwise, in the past I’ve had a lot of potted seedlings that emerged in the baggies under higher humidity and when I plant them the cotyledons (two green seedlings “leaves”) expand, but no shoot grows. I’ve overcome this in general by providing high humidity with plastic domes or baggies until the first two true leaves come out and then I slowly ween the plastic off. If I germinated them in the greenhouse or in pots they would emerge and adapt to the humidity from the start. I also use soilless media and have gotten pretty particular in this regard with young seedlings. I use Pro-mix now. Mixes which have topsoil in them (I think Miracle Gro does) can harbor more microorganisms which can cause damping off. The soilless mediums have peat, vermiculite, and perilite generally and sometimes bark. I also avoid bark mixes too. I tried Universal Mix once and lost all the seedlings I potted in it in short order. I learned later that they had problems with incompletely composted bark in their Georgia site that year and others have complained too due to root diseases. After seedlings are up and growing some then I select the better ones and transplant them to larger pots. At that time it seems being more flexible with soils hasn’t been a problem. Also, I carefully water young seedlings too trying not to overwater and make them more susceptible to damping off. It sounds like a lot of hassle, but it really isn’t. I don’t use captan or other fungicides anymore. They tend to have stunted young seedlings for me just due to the chemical. Relatively to losing them or stunting some of them, using captan as a safeguard and to offer more flexibility in how one waters and grows them is a strategy many use.

I have several 72 cell trays now with seedlings putting on their 3rd or 4th true leaf and it makes me feel good to see less than 10% loss! They’re from pretty vigorous families too though.



Maybe some of what I’m seeing is just because of the cultivar. Prior to this year, what I’ve germinated has been City of York, Playboy and Graham Thomas. All germinate easily and grow well. This year I’ve also got seedlings of Viking Queen and New Dawn and while they are not growing wildly, they are definitely healthy seedlings.

This year, my germination busts are mostly 4th of July at this point. The one 4th of July which has managed to grow is at least 2 weeks old and STILL doesn’t have its first true leaves. It’s not what I would call vigorous!

I’ll have to see what happens as other varieties start to germinate. And I’ll have to look for a soilless mix to start them in, as well.

You have seedlings of Viking Queen - envy-envy-envy!

Any tricks to share (how you got Viking Queen to grow hips)?

In my experience, MiracleGro soil is TOXIC to young roses and should be avoided at all costs. This mix is apparently very heavily amended with nutrients and can burn young roots badly. This could be part of your problem.



I didn’t realize VQ wasn’t a good hip-setter. I have done nothing special. I just rarely cut off flowers. Over the course of the summer it set TONS of hips. I did notice that they didn’t all seem to make it to the ripe stage, but many did. My VQ flowers a lot, so I end up with a lot of potential hips. Mine is a 3rd year own root, btw.

Paul, thanks for the info. I’ll make it a priority to find something better this weekend. With my limited germination experience in years past, I hadn’t really noticed much of a problem. I guess Playboy and others were just really lucky choices to start with!


The website Help Me Find lists the following offspring for Viking Queen.


So it looks like you will have the first. Is there a possibility that you received a mislabeled plant?


Mine looks just like those pictured on HMF, Henry. I do wish I could see a picture of the canes, though. I’m pretty sure that mine is VQ. I checked tonight and my set of VQ seeds isn’t as large as I’d thought for this year. I’m currently growing a VQ seedling from 2004. I didn’t collect the hips from 2004 until June 2005. I found 2 and thought, “What the heck.” That is what is growing now. We’ll see if any of my 2005 seeds germinate-- they may not!


Alicia, Paul could be correct regarding the MiracleGro soil. With good results I use ProMix potting soil.

I agree with Paul on the MiracleGro. I haven’t used ProMix, but I’ve had good success with “Professional Jiffy Mix” to which I usually amend with about a third more peat. It’s available here at Home Depot.

Judith, thanks for the info. I’ve got a HD very close by. I’ve been looking for vermiculite for some time but all the stores here seem to carry is perlite. Does anyone know if a perlite/peat mix good enough if I cannot find something else?

HD here does carry vermiculite. I would guess that a perlite/peat mix should be ok. Why not try a small bag mix and let us know?

Henry, after several years of putting pollen on Viking Queen this is the first year I got hips to mature, however it was from a plant I raised in the green house from the summer of 2004 and pollinated a couple of flowers in early May this year.

The pollen parent was Hurdy Gurdy. Currently I have about 10 seedlings growing from this cross that have come up in the last 3 weeks. So it’s little early to tell the real outcome.

I’m hoping to get a Z5a hardy striped climber from this cross.

I guess the environment plays a factor with Viking Queen setting hips.

Is there a difference in hardiness between Rhonda and Viking Queen? They seem quite similar in appearance and parentage with their New Dawn and Crimson Glory backgrounds. Anyhow, maybe Rhonda is more fertile?


I am very upset because I have some very important seedlings in MiracleGro potting mix. I just picked it up because it was on sale, and thought, “Hey… it’s MiracleGro.”

4 seedlings of Secret X unknown tea.

All in MiracleGro soil… But they look good now. Should I worry?

Enrique, you have a lot more experience than I do, but I don’t think I would worry if they look good, but I certainly wouldn’t add any more fertilizer until they’re starting to look like they need it. Last year, using MiracleGro, it seems like I ran into trouble when I was watering from the bottom. That would make sense, since watering that way would not leach out the salts and excess nutrients. Maybe watering from the top would be the way to go.


I have seedlings growing in the Miracle Gro. It doesn’t seem to bother all seedlings. I have a very healthy Graham Thomas seedling which is positively thriving in that soil. However, just to be on the safe side, I went out today and got two different kinds, the Pro Mix and some Fertilome. I re-potted my just-germinated seeds into the Fertilome and am hoping for better results. Those seedlings that are growing and doing well in the Miracle Gro I’m leaving alone for now-- I don’t want to traumatize them needlessly.

If your seedlings appear to be growing well, you are probably going to be fine. Good luck!

I have to agree with Alicia’s assessment. Some of mine did very well and some were awful. Almost none of my Fabulous! seedlings survived - and I had a lot of them - I had attributed that mainly to the heat, but that may not have been the cause after all and thinking back, many had crisped edges which looked like fertilizer burn. My Deuil de Dr. Raynaud seedlings did just fine. If they look ok, I wouldn’t worry as I said before.

Enrique, whatever you do, DON’T fertilize them!

I seem to be getting relatively good germination. It’s the damping off that stymies me.

I was using potting soil as a medium (not Miracle-Gro), then perlite or vermiculite was suggested as the potting soil my retain too much water. I’ll try both this spring.

Any other tips? What kind of fungicide is safe? I’ve heard that a drop of hydrogen peroxide may help an ailing seedling.

My seed from 2005 should be ready to sow soon.