Sweet Spirit

This almost could have been a reply in the recent thread asking about hips generating excitement. But posting as new thread to avoid thread-jacking.

I’m kind of excited about Sweet Spirit. I have two plants that I keep in pots and store inside for the winter. It is a Double KO descendant, which might mean great disease resistance. I’m assuming it is not hardy, so I won’t get a chance to test it for disease resistance in my climate because my potted roses don’t get any spot diseases in the greenhouse.

It set some really huge hips.

I am in love with the fragrance.

I’m now contemplating how to add hardiness while preserving fragrance and blossom form.

Anyone else have experience with Sweet Spirit? Go ahead and shatter my illusions.

I imagine the hardiness is somewhere between Sunsprite and Peace.

So pretty! Hadn’t heard of this one.

I snagged one last fall as a large plant with quite a few beautiful, large OP hips–the number of large, healthy seeds per hip and germination percentage were both good, and there were some interesting offspring with flowers in shades of rich red to salmon-pink. It has been reasonably healthy, starting out the season extremely well (it had no stem canker issues over winter, which helps), but is still getting a fair amount of black spot by the middle of summer here in Maryland. Like many other roses, its initially large, fragrant, and pretty well-formed blooms all but vaporized into semi-double, scentless wonders during the heat, and are just now starting to pick up a little steam again with our temperatures trending downward. Initial hip set with cross-pollinations was deceptively promising; about half of the crosses I tried aborted sooner or later. It produces copious amounts of very sticky stigmatic fluid and you can pack a ton of pollen on each flower over several days. In terms of which ones held on and which ones aborted, it does seem to have possibly preferred the pollen of certain roses over others (there were no general patterns noticed, just clone-specific chemistry, like most of us, I suppose). I used its pollen on one other rose with apparent success, so that seems likely to be fertile as well.

Its pollen parent Elle has been a black spot disaster with disappointingly weak fragrance for me, so I would say that they got pretty lucky with Sweet Spirit. Knowing what I know now, I would still cross it with the healthiest, most fragrant roses possible, or at least something that might complement its particular background in some way. I tried a diverse range of pollen parents on it… I won’t know until next year how any of those pan out, but the hips from May pollinations are starting to color up now.


There is a bed at Lyndale Park Rose Garden I was admiring last weekend. The plants were healthy there for black spot and mildew and looking gorgeous. That is really interesting Stefan about it getting black spot in Maryland. It may be a valuable parent to follow the resistance gene(s) it has in it that it likely inherited from Knock Out. With it being more fertile we may be able to generate a segregating population and do the comparisons between the susceptible and resistant seedlings with the particular races. I hope to count its chromosomes at some point. With the ease of hip set, maybe it is tetraploid?

Bloom size alone gives a higher chance SS is tetraploid, given how small the triploid DKO blooms are. Also, DKO is not as healthy as KO, but it has better behaved blooms and plant architecture.

KO, in my experience, produces better colors. DKO and its mutations tend to breed washed out bicolors with narrow petals, which can get annoying to cull through at times.

Sweet Spirit held its lush, full appearance through most of July (when we had 30 continuous days of 90 degrees or higher with high night temperatures), and probably had good-looking flowers through June, but really began to defoliate from the bottom up here in August when it became wetter and slightly less hot. It struck me as a very promising variety early in the season, which is why I pollinated it as much as I did–but as with any newly planted rose, it can take a little time to show its true colors. Of course, mine probably began leafing out in March if not February, so those leaves were getting old by the time they became diseased. Because of its growth pattern and medium heat tolerance, it now has just a few spotty leaves left from earlier in the season, and its only healthy foliage is on more recent shoot growth on the upper part of the plant. Its hips are currently maturing on bare twigs.

There are almost no hybrid garden roses that are very resistant to black spot in my garden, and a fair number of other diseases can also take a toll at times–it’s a very discouraging place to grow them, especially when you have the diversity of black spot strains that I have amassed. Still, there are probably few better places to test and select roses against the scourge. I’ve come to realize that how quickly a garden rose flushes new growth (and for repeat blooming roses, flowers) in spite of extremely hot and humid weather, along with the distribution of that new growth on the plant, is generally the most important factor in its overall health and appearance for me.


Thanks for sharing about this rose Joe, and everyone who has added information.
I have been looking at Orchid Romance, but would like one that could be used as a seed parent as well as pollen.
Not sure about Milwaukees Calatrava. I appreciate what Radler has accomplished, but these are the first two that have roses on them that
I would actually grow. Now Sweet Spirit. What would you all recommend between these roses, or some other?
Looking for adding in disease resistance but wanting old rose form and fragrance as much as possible.

I am really interested, Joe, in your cross with Canadian Shield x Nitidia! Good luck with that one.

Duane, I haven’t tried to use Orchid Romance in breeding, but I do like it and will eventually get around to playing with it if it has any fertility. It has shown a few flaws in my garden that suggest it should be mated with roses that could contribute more consistently strong fragrance, better flower longevity, and/or better self-cleaning. It has decent disease resistance here, or rather, it flushes new growth often enough and the leaves contract disease slowly enough that it has covered its losses reasonably well. It manages to bloom some during hotter weather, which is also a plus. I didn’t personally find Milwaukee’s Calatrava/Pearlescent to be overly exciting looking and couldn’t really detect any fragrance from mine; it also wasn’t healthy enough here to make up for the lackluster flowers, so when it died I wasn’t too broken up about it. It’s probably better in a cooler region, or maybe just in someone else’s garden.


Thanks for the thoughts! I probably should have grabbed Orchid Romance when I saw it in a nursery last season, but all the buds had been wet for a while and we’re ruined, so I went with a plant that was just starting to form buds I could use. I haven’t seen Sweet Spirit before, so I’ll look online for it.
Joe, how receptive has Sweet Spirit been to different pollens. Obviously it set seed for you. Did you try diverse pollens on it? Did it reject some? Receive most? I am beginning to appreciate the seed parents I have that will accept a variety of wide crosses, since that is necessary for my goal (or approach anyway). I only had two that did that well this season, Aloha Hawaii and Claire Austin.

I really like Orchid Romance, but it doesn’t seem to set hips for me and it has been hard to get pollen from it with the blooms being so double. Sweet Spirit was for sale mid summer in the Home Depots here in 2 gallon pots. I wish I would have bought one now. It was really hot and they weren’t being watered too well and looked stressed. I wish I knew how nice of a rose it was.


I kind of took a year off from intensive pollination, and as such only pollinated about two hips on Sweet Spirit, both with pollen from CASNIT1, my cross of Canadian Shield and R. nitida.

However, the enormous size of those hips speaks well to the fertility of Sweet Spirit. I would certainly encourage making attempts. One key is how well it might accept pollen from diploids.


David, have you tried substituting Shining Moment for Orchid Romance as they share the same parentage?

Sweet Spirit may germinate better than some HTs since its descended from Peace no less than 7 times, as well as a descendent of Playboy on possibly more than one occasion. Many HTs have abysmal seed count and germination rate despite massive hips. That’s one reason you will often seen a lot of roses bred from very few HTs parents. I figured that is worth mentioning for newbies as well as those that rarely even deal with HTs, except now as roses like DKO are introduced into them.

Double KO itself will produce some hips, but often with only one seed. This may be an attribute of being triploid though.

Just in case it helps anyone with planning, now that I’ve harvested and processed the hips that matured, it’s interesting to see that there were only one or two seeds in each hip regardless of the pollen parent. The weather during pollination seemed ideal; I can’t help but wonder now if the large, open-pollinated hips full of seeds that were on the plant when I received it were largely the products of of selfing.

I would suggest one of the red Kordes roses since they were (in general) selected for both hardiness and disease resistance. Illusion is one example.

I was gifted a large sweet spirit rose bush. I’d like to plant it in the ground. However, I’m concerned about the timing. I live in Florida and it’s currently 90+ degrees every day. Is it ok to go ahead and plant? Also, is the type of rose tolerant of full morning or partial shade? Thank you

Although I’m not necessarily the best person to give advice about this rose, planting it is certainly no worse than keeping it in a pot, assuming that you’ll be able to keep it adequately watered once planted. In my garden, foliage diseases and flowering shutdown during the hot months were pretty serious problems. My plant never really improved in disease resistance once blackspot had it in its sights, and since it occupied some valuable real estate and proved to be disappointing as a breeding parent, I shovel-pruned mine last fall. It’s difficult to say whether you’ll encounter the same disease troubles given the differences in pressure from one place to the next, but you might at least expect some similar issues with flowering during the heat. Maybe with enough water and fertilizer that could be mitigated to some degree, if it does happen. I don’t personally like to have to pamper roses too much in order to keep them from looking like total eyesores in the garden.

Fiji is probably healthier, and the color is probably easier to work with in breeding, but there is no real scent. I know SS did well in many areas, but that wasn’t enough to convince me to give up space for a magenta rose for my garden or even for breeding.

I do have Fiji. Still newish. Quite healthy and a slight salmon tinge to the deep pink. VERY wichurana-type foliage, but no downy/cerco/anthrac. like many with wich-type foliage get easily.

Did not trial it for hips, but I have a feeling its better as pollen.

I was told SS did not do well in a friends hot climate. It was apparently not a fan of the desert. Fiji did very well in 100F heat here, although I lack the higher UV than 100F higher in altitude for a true test.

One of the reasons I was initially hopeful about Sweet Spirit before I knew better was its parentage, and the possibility of obtaining warmer/other colors in the next generation while retaining fragrance and health. The small number of OP seedlings that I first grew (from whatever had managed to pollinate it at the nursery, or possibly from selfing) did range from true red through coral-pink, although none of those proved to be particularly healthy here outdoors. The only seedling to arise from any of my intentional crosses has flowers with palest peach-pink overall petal coloration, and oddly enough, that came from a very challenging pollen parent that has been uncooperative otherwise. That seedling isn’t exactly the picture of health either, but the pollen parent is so incredibly disease prone that it is actually a huge improvement. So, while SS wasn’t a great garden plant for me (serious understatement), was difficult to use as a seed parent, and produced some pretty disease-prone seedlings, its color probably won’t get in the way should anyone else choose to try it as a parent, and it may have some arcane breeding value.