Trialling climber seedlings

Just wondering what people do to maximise space and labour to trial climber seedlings (both miniature and standard sized)? I’m anticipating a few this year and whilst space is not really a problem (can spread out to the non-bush sections of the back 3 acre paddock) I figure they are going to be there a few years and over time their numbers will increase (even if I cull, cull, cull) and I still want to have the space to trial non-climbers…

Hi Simon, because of space issues in the seedling bed, climber size “helps” me to make the earlier more difficult choices. I cull pretty severely early on. Climbers in particular seem to vary significantly on their repeat blooming ability. Slow repeaters are not kept unless there is something really great about them.

Jim Sproul

I dont keep once-bloomers, and if they show disease then theyre gone asap. That narrows down climbers pretty fast, especially because of their dense growth. Then they are culled based on bloom quality. If it isnt special, then it goes because no one will want to use that much space on something boring.

Species climbers are a whole other realm, and I cull based on health, vigor, disease resistance, foliage/stem color, etc. Basically I cull down to what I am looking for when it comes to these. Then I keep one and let it grow out.


I’m rather new to this rose hyrbridizing part of growing roses (as well as growing roses in general). I’m not at all sure what you mean when you say that a rose is “boring.” Do you have any pictures of roses you have culled because of their “boring” nature?

I can understand the concepts of lack of disease resistance, once bloomers, etc, but the term “boring” does not conjure up any images to me.



It’s the species crosses I am thinking about mainly. I figure with them one would probably need to keep more than normal as possible ‘link’ crosses. I don’t exactly know what to expect as far as variation goes with a species cross… they might all turn out the same so I only need to keep one or two… I don’t know… I cull on the things mentioned above already and also figure it could be some years before they show their real potential… so I was wondering how people set their trial beds up with climbers in mind to allow them to show their potential whilst still maximising the space and minimising the labour required. I was thinking of just making narrow beds with posts at either end with wire strained between them to run them along and plant them at intervals along the ‘fence’… was also thought of just running them up posts pillar style but rejected that idea because pillars don’t suit all climbers and the fence seemed more like a one-size-fits-all idea. So any ideas on the physical layout others use would be very grateful.

First generation species hybrids are little less uniform than parent species and we can select any true to cross that grows well as they all have from each species a full genome or two according to ploidy. Later generations are more to much more diverse and here selection is at individual level.

Pierre is correct. The conventional wisdom that species crosses will have very little variability is exaggerated. There will be a fair amount. Unfortunately, the traits of the hybrids are not very helpful in predicting how good their offspring will be. It is still safe to throw out the least disease-resistant ones, and you are more likely to get the flower color you want from parents that are the closest to that color (just like any cross).

You can tell very little about the climbing habit from a non-recurrent, first-generation hybrid. Usually, their second-generation, recurrent offspring are MUCH more

Hi Robert, boring is obviously subjective, and not specifically a concept. It is entirely hinged on what I believe to be of aesthetic quality or inspiring – either to myself or for others. So, if something is up for culling, it is more likely to be culled if I cannot perceive at least an f2 aesthetic possibility for it. But to be more direct, something with wispy magenta blooms, sparse and matte foliage and uneven growth is pretty high on the list of boringsville.

Back to the original topic: I have areas of garden where I row out seedlings at the two year old stage (they have already seen two seasons in the greenhouse for early evaluation) about 18" apart and the rows are 6 feet apart. The space between rows is covered with landscaping “fabric” (plastic weave) for weed suppression. Plants are allowed to grow at least three more years in this area to see how they perform. They are given no support and allowed to trail, flop or pillar as they wish. I want to see their natural growth habit. Yes, some seedlings like the Wichurana hybrids, just flop and trail across the landscaping cloth, making a big floppy octopus of a tangle, but that’s fine. I don’t end up with any SERIOUS messes I can’t live with.

In some cases, a test plant is weeded out after one season in that test bed, opening up a space to allow neighbors to breathe a bit more. Sometimes most plants in a rose get removed eventually which frees up space for the next crop of test subjects. Sure, it gets a bit wild in places, but that’s not a problem for me. It all tends to manage itself well enough.

Does planting them only 18 inches apart tend to impede their natural growth habit if they begin to ‘climb’ up each other using their neighbour as their support?

“Does planting them only 18 inches apart tend to impede their natural growth habit if they begin to ‘climb’ up each other using their neighbour as their support?”

Well, no, not really. They DO twine into one another as they grow but you still get to see their natural habit. I don’t regard this approach as being particularly problematic. Remember, eventually many neighboring plants get removed as I cull the less desirable ones, and so these beds eventually thin to 1/3 the number of plants.

Thanks Paul… I like this idea a lot… I guess it would also be a possible indication of versatility of a variety in the landscape as well because, as Roger said, a lot of climbers will make good shrubs if allowed to grow unsupported (like ‘Wild Rover’… I love this rose so much!)… I guess now that I think about it deliberately supporting them with some kind of structure would be like introducing bias into the evaluation process too…