This year's crosses were a total bust

I made about 100 crosses (total hips pollinated) and only got one hip from those. Did I read somewhere in the RHA form that you can kill success by treating you roses with too much kindness?

At this point I’m guessing but I thing too much water, fertilizer and worm compost.


I’ve broke down this year and started spraying some of my roses (It sure made a difference on Henry Fonda). I’m curious if that spray can harm pollen or otherwise affect flower fertility… I’ve been trying to be careful and not get the spray near the open flowers but the mist does carry in the wind.

I have Henry Fonda here and it has been very clean all year. I also got a lot of pollen from it…just no happy mommas.

‘Henry Fonda’ was very fertile here. I used it as seed parent.

When I started hearing reports of disease problems I abandoned it but I still have descendants.

Here’s a mini I kept. It appears to be seed fertile and sets lots of OP hips.


At this point I’m guessing but I thing too much water, fertilizer and worm compost.

It would be difficult to put more water and fertilizer (and spray) than I did and I got 282 hips from 888 pollenations (~32%). This is way up from my earlier results and I credit two changes I made.

The first new thing I did was to apply the pollen with a brush instead of my finger or a spatula (#2 flat cut white bristled stain brush), working the pollen thoroughly into the stigmata.

The other new thing I did was to keep the freshly pollenated blooms out of the rain for a day or two as needed to prevent pollen washout. I grow my breeders in pots using a lightweight, soil-less mix so I just kept them on the porch if rain threatened.

Some very knowledgeable breeders recommend sparing the fertilizer to prevent premature hip drop so it could well be that I would have had way more hips if I had done so. However, I inspected each failed hip and found only a handful that had seeds, and none of these seeds had embryos inside.

I’m curious if that spray can harm pollen or otherwise affect flower fertility

I think it helps rather than hinders. It is obvious to me from my embryo culture work that disease takes a heavy toll on embryos as they sit in stratification. In fact, I am pretty sure that many seedlings are born with fungus infection, and never stand a fighting chance as a result.

I used Bayer 3-in-1 for Roses, Orthenex and Triazicide (g-cyhalothrin) in rotation all season for a bad mite problem, along with consistent application of Bayer Disease Control for Roses (tebuconazole).

That is not to say that I don’t or won’t challange seedlings with disease, but many of my breeders are known disease magnets. Incremental improvements in disease resistance can only occur if there are seedlings to select from in the first place. In fact, I’m looking forward next year to having enough space and seedlings that I can apply the same sort of intense selection pressures that Bill Radler uses.

Thanks Don:

Since last year was my first year, maybe my timing was off. Who knows? It’s only six more months until Spring!

Dons said,

“Some very knowledgeable breeders recommend sparing the fertilizer to prevent premature hip drop so it could well be that I would have had way more hips if I had done so. However, I inspected each failed hip and found only a handful that had seeds, and none of these seeds had embryos inside.”

I’m one of those that fertilizes very sparingly. This seems especially important when dealing with roses of limited fertility.

Many people would assume much of my garden is half dead.

There is method to my madness but we need to have an understanding of what we are doing. Observation helps develop intuition.


We went thru mostly what you have experienced the first few years. We suspected that it was mostly a timing issue, although there was a very good possibility of compatibility with the parents. Everything in our garden gets the same water, so we never experienced that. We do some crosses in pots and we try to give them the same water that the ones in the ground get (discounting the summer rain!). Same with fertilizer, though the ones in pots might get a tad less. What I tried a couple of years ago, after hearing a talk by Eddie Edwards at the RHA meeting in New Orleans, was to break off the terminal bud and pollinate the rest of the spray. I tried that with different timing on each to see and learn when was the best time to pollinate. From this we saw that we had been too late in prior crosses as the pollen had already been released, so it appeared that we did have mainly a timing problem. You might give this a try and learn just when is the best time to pollinate. Just keep a record of the date of each cross.

Hope you have a better success rate next season.


Has someone pointed the fact that light to no winter pruning is favorable?

As for fertilizers it is nitrogen that does harm to fertility.

As for fertilizers… a little potash (K) favor fertility.

Yikes! 100 pollinations and only 1 hip! That’s tragic!!!

If the roses you’re working with are known to be fertile, I’d think that even fertilizers or water wouldn’t give you that much difficulty.

Like Robert, I hardly ever use any fertilizers. But I can’t claim that it’s been an intentional method for increasing hip set - I just don’t ever get around to it. I don’t do any bug or disease control either. All of my roses are growing “au natural” - so many will look half-dead as Robert described. It’s got to be a special rose for me to give it any pampering.

I agree wholeheartedly with John about the timing aspect. After having a lot of aborted hips in the early days, I started to use repeat pollinations daily over several days (on the same bloom) to be sure that I didn’t miss the receptive period and that seemed to help a lot with hip set. I don’t generally do that anymore because as John mentioned you learn and sort of get a feel for when it’s best (for a single pollination). But if it’s an especially important cross, I’ll still use the multiple pollination method to better my chances of getting some hips.

Also, fresh pollen makes all the difference for me. I will use older pollen (or refrigerated or frozen) when I have no other choice, but if I can use a freshly opened flower as my pollinating brush, I think that’s always given me the best results.

I sure hope you have better results next season. Hang in there - this just gives you more time to focus on researching pedigrees and planning out strategies.


I agree with what the others are saying that it

Fertilizer? Whats that?

The following link may be of interest:


Jeff, what seed parents did you use?

Thanks for all of the responses. This thread will go into my notebook!

I primarily used the following varieties as both seed and pollen parent:

Cal Poly

Rise N Shine

Ruby Pendant

Sequoia Gold



George Burns

Topsy Turvy

Medallion (limited on a couple of minis. Don’t know why. Just thought it would be interesting if they took)


Hot Cocoa

Arlene Francis

Henri Martin (Pollen only)

Chapeau de Napoleon (pollen only)

I took notes on exactly what I did on an old computer but I need to dig it up. I’m beginning to believe my problem was a timing issue. Some of these should have taken from what I’ve read here and in HMF.

The nice thing is there is always next Spring.

I also think that I need to limit what I’m pollenating. Maybe try 10+ blooms per rose with a particular pollen.

last week I found this Page of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria:

I believe , if you use the google translation, it will be ‘understandable’ for you. There are given some rules and hints for plant breeding. The most of the items will also fit for roses breeding purposes.

one example : Flowers of the main shoot bring the best seed set, using only a few blossoms, remove excess flower.

That is what I’ve also observed, esp. on self cleaning plants.

I hope it will be useful.



Jeff, you may still be able to run a program this year. A number of us give away seeds each year. Sometime near Thanksgiving, I will be posting my seed give away list. (I am too old to run an active program so I normally give away most of my seeds.)


Thanks! A couple of other RHA folks have already sent cuttings and seeds.

I do have some OP seeds that I would be willing to give away. E-mail and I will let you know what I have. Most are Big Box chain store varieties. They will give me a chance this year to test my germination skills. Hope they’re better than my pollinating skill :slight_smile:


I couldn’t get the site in English, but thanks.


Jeff – it’s very easy to translate any web page these days with one click, after you install Google’s toolbar with the “translate” function activated. It works perfectly on Bernhard’s site – I just tested it. The link below is the download page for the toolbar.

I never thought I would need something like that, but I end up using it a lot.