Talk about a long germination time!

Its not exactly a rose, but…


It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the pre-treatment.

I understand many roses have an extended germination time, especially some species. How do you know when to give up, and do you just leave them in the germination soil all that time?

Thanks, Bob

That’s beyond incredible.

Maybe, then, my having seeds in the fridge from 1983 isn’t just being obsessive.

Umm. No, Don, I’m afraid that is a bit obsessive, or at least excessive. :wink:

(I assume that haven’t actually been stratifying that whole time, have they?)

O.K. guys – I take it one year is not long enough and 25 years (1983-2008) is thought to be a tad long, but that doesn’t narrow it down much. What is the longest anyone out there has successfully held on to seeds, what is the longest you would normally recommend and what did you do to finally get them to germinate. Bob

I had a bunch of rose seeds that were gathered in 2003 that had some germination after about 8 months stratification this past winter. Low rates but there are a couple seedlings that have promise.

Hi Rob. Thanks. Bob

I assume that haven’t actually been stratifying that whole time, have they?

Periodically in the fridge for the entire time though they did spend some full year spells dry. I sometimes dice some up and when I come across a potentially viable embryo back in the fridge they go.

Bob, I know that several rose breeders will keep seedling trays for 2 to 3 years to get more germinations and perhaps find that one good seedling, but I only germinate whatever comes up in the first year.

Part of my goal is to develop rose seed parents that set hips well, produce a larger number of seeds per hip and germinate well (and hopefully produce nice seedlings). Selecting seedlings that take 3 years to germinate and using them in breeding might foul that up. It is true that a truly superior seedling may be found that way, but there are already a lot of hips/seeds in my garden that are going in the trash every year that will never be germinated (all of the OP hips that I never shell). With limited space, I would rather use that space for potential new seed parents to test their germination rates.

Jim Sproul

Ive never kept seeds. I dont have the patience, or the will to waste resources/time.

It takes time and effort to emasculate, pollinate, harvest hips, and plant seeds. It seems a waste to throw out the seeds without giving them ample chance to germinate. Rose seeds don’t naturally all germinate in one season. R. multiflora seeds have been known to be dormant in the soil for over 20 years before germinating. Dr. W. Van Fleet kept his seeds for seven years and got additional germinations every year. Some of my best seedlings took two or three years to germinate. If the seeds are in small containers, like petri dishes or baggies, it takes very little time or space to put them back in the fridge, or to take them out again a few months later.

I started putting seeds back in the fridge when germinations stopped 10-12 weeks ago, and started taking them back out 10 days ago. They started germinating within a couple of days and I’ve gotten over 120 new seedlings so far and more are germinating every day. I took the rest of the seeds out of the fridge tonight and expect that they will soon start germinating again too.

Well, I have less experience than the rest of you guys, but 2-3 years tops is all I’ve ever bothered attempting, and I don’t think, even when working with near-species hybrids, I ever really got much of anything after 18 months or so. The seeds I held on to for years were crosses I was just too interested in, and too stubborn to admit that they apparently weren’t viable.

Bob W., if you ever work with rugosas or other hardy species, you may find that a year ain’t enough. For modern hybrids, I would say a few months stratification is more typical. So have you gotten any hips from any planned crosses this year yet? If so, congrats. (But that is only the first of many potentially frustrating steps towards getting a baby!)

I’ve kept some seed for up to 3 years. Yes, you will get some late germination. I haven’t found these types of seedlings to be anything special in the past.

Space is a big issue here. Now I rarely keep seed a second season unless I know the cross involves a species known to require extended germination time.

I already have so many seedlings I’m having to cull even those of interest for lack of room to evaluate them properly.

I’ve kept some seed for up to 3 years. Yes, you will

get some late germination. I haven’t found these types

of seedlings to be anything special in the past.

Seedlings that germinate after the second or third stratification have the same chance of being something special as seedlings that germinate after one stratification.

I used to put seeds back in the fridge along with the next year’s seeds. Now I put them back when germination stops in the spring, and then take them out again 2-3 months later. That lets me stratify seeds two or three times in one year. In the fall, I throw out 1/3 to 2/3 of the seeds. I throw out crosses that did not produce any good seedlings, and crosses that produced all of the germinations that I think they can produce. The seeds I keep will be stratified another two or three times the next year, and then tossed.

The number of seedlings I can grow is limited by my time, not by space. Depending on the cross, multiple stratifications doubles or triples the number of seedlings I get for one season’s work. If you have plenty of time and not much space, then throwing out viable seeds from good crosses might make sense for you.

It’s true. I have too many seedlings and not enough space. If we use seed parents that offer good germination rates, getting large numbers of seedlings is relatively easy.

I agree seedlings that germinate after the second or third stratification have the same chance of being something special as seedlings that germinate after one stratification.

In my situation it’s much easier to move forward with those seedlings that germinate after one stratification cycle.

One has to weigh whether additional stratification time is worth one’s personal time and resources.

Many thanks guys. I now have a feel for all the factors that go into this issue, many of them personal ones of time, space and patience.


I have nothing yet. As you know (since you are the only one on these fora I have actually met) all my bushes are new except my Mermaid and I got one precious seed out of my enormous bush about two months ago and I know from past experience in a former hybridizing life 30 years ago that it is unlikely to germinate – maybe I didn’t give it enough time in the past. I tend toward the impatient end of the spectrum in the above discussion and hovering over my one crumby seed is like the proverbial watched pot. The reason this issue is important to me is that my daughter and I have some species roses and first generation hybrids now that I fear may take longer than the November, December, January, February max time in the past. In my former life Mermaid was my only first generation hybrid and I had no species or OGR’s. My daughter has lots of space now, but at the rate she is acquiring plants and her preference for climbers, like most of you out there she will be full up in a couple of years. I have planted a second small rose garden here in N.C. and my wife just announced that I could clear another space that should accomodate about another dozen.

Many thanks, Bob

JimT, your method of getting several germinations by repeat cold treatment makes a lot of sense. It’s like squeezing more juice out of a good orange.

Since all of my seeds get directly planted in seedling benches, any additional cold treatment they get is from cooler weather. I think that it does help promote germination.

In the fall, I will get a few more germinations, perhaps 100 to 200 seedlings. I used to try to save them by potting them up before redoing the seedling benches, but found that it was not efficient for me.

Each person’s setup seems to have direct kinds of efficiencies!

Jim Sproul

Ok. Am I missing something? I thought multiple stratifications was the norm? (In my clime, I’m dependent on the refrigerator anyway and have seeds in labeled ziplocks with a little soilless mixture.) I usually start with an extensive multiple-month chill and then room temp for a week or so, and then cycle another week or two in the fridge and a few days out for the rest of the spring/early summer. (The bulk of my germinations occur during this in and out cycling during which I’m pricking out all the sprouts and planting them.) Once the weather is getting brutally hot, I admittedly don’t pull seed out of the cooler so readily – I would rather impede germination at this point (though I continue to check them, obviously). In October, however, (I’m in zone 9 with rather mild winters) I will give another round of room temperature, and once the weather gets cool, they go the next round with another long session along with the next seasons harvests.

With this cycling, I have never had any new successful germinations after 18 mo.s or so, but as I say, I have comparably limited experience.