Vegetative Centers

On another thread, a partial discussion was held re: vegetative centers in seedlings. The consensus seemed to be that once a vegetative center, always a vegetative center.

I’d like some further input on this question as I have been observing vegetative centers in some of my known cultivars that do not typically demonstrate this tendency. For instance, Mary Rose (Austin)and Betty Boop (Carruth) have both turned up a vegetative center this year. I do not recall ever seeing this tendency in these roses before.

Are there certain atmospheric/weather conditions that contribute to this problem? Is this something that just happens every so often? Is it a part of the “start-up” process of springtime?

These plants have not been overfertilized and are not brand new plantings (though I have had the same problem with cuttings of other known cultivars, too).

This does seem like an important question to be resolved in order to best be able to select seedlings–I’ve had vegetative centers in some of them as well.

Thanks for your input!

Just out of curiosity, have you had a soild test lately for those beds?

Cathy in MA Z5

Hi Cathy,

I’ll have to confess my ignorance as to what a solids test is. Any information you could pass along would be great. Thanks!

Perhaps Cathy meant SOIL test for pH?

That’s probably right, Meg. Any suggestion on where to get a good pH test? And, is it possible for pH to have this kind of effect on roses?


I think that Cathy also meant to suggest testing for other nutrients with a comprehensive test, especially nitrogen which is sometimes implicated (anecdotally, anyway) in producing these vegetative centers. I strongly suspect that pH alone has little, if any, effect on this aspect of their growth.


High nitrogen content in the soil if often thought to be the culprit when dealing with vegetative centers, although I’ve seen some that seemed to be responding to in-climate weather conditions such as cold weather after the growing season was in full swing.

I seem to remember however, that some OGRs routinely have vegetative centers. Varieties such as:

Fisherman’s Friend, Blumenschmidt & Mlle Franziska Kruger,Perle d’Or, Cecile Brunner, Desiree Parmentier, Frederick Mistral, Marchesa Boccella, Othello and The Bishop also have been known to have them for no particular reason other than possibly fertilizers and weather conditions. They usually clear up on their own.

Hope this is helpful.


You can get a soil test through your County Cooperative Extension usually associated with the State University. They have boxes that you send the soil in and a questionnaire in regard to what you are growing and what tests you would like done for a small fee.

My first John Cabot op seedling just opened today and it is a vegetative center. It also had unusually long uneven sepals. A mini, Green Ice, that has been in the garden for 2 years always has a good percentage of vegetative centers. These have not been treated any differently than the non-vegetative centered seedlings and minis.


Super input–thanks! I was especially concerned last year when some of the first seedling blossoms were vegetative. Considering what has been said here, and on the basis of experience I have been having with known cultivars, I am thinking that these may not continue as vegetative in the future–I guess that it will be an interested experiment.

I need to proofread my posts!

Yes, I meant SOIL test. PH effects how all nutrients present in the soil are available to the plant, and having too much of some nutrients will influence the availability of others. Without the soil test, it’s impossible to know what’s happening at the elemental level.

The state extension service provides an excellent soil profile for a reasonable fee. I found soil test kits to be nowhere near as good.


Vegetative center is an incomplete flower genesis. Failing at finishing flower differenciation. It is a defect that has variable expression. Rare or frequent the phenomenon varies from perfect flower without trace of vegetative center to short “square” buds with prevalent green bush longer than the crimped petals before opening. The later flowers are generaly quite misformed. A related expression is greener outer petals more or less sepal like that are taken off by exhibitors and florists.

Do not underestimate this problem: it is recurrent and will never disapear. If there are misformed flowers: discard!

Proneness is obviously genetic: never observed or quite prevalent according to cv. Expression varies positively with stem thickness, nitrogen, spring.

I have seen very obvious veg centers on virus contaminated plants/clones.

Do not overestimate it neither. Our sophisticated roses flowers are quite abnormal. Only normal rose flowers are those with five petals and up to three days life.:wink:

Pierre Rutten

Robert, in general vegetative centers do persist on seedlings, however, that is not always true. Also, as you mentioned, commercial varieties sometimes give blooms with vegetative centers. It does seem to be related to nutrient(s) effects.

I usually discard seedlings that exhibit large vegetative centers. Occasionally, I will keep one and watch it if it otherwise has good characteristics.

Some people like them if they are not distracting. I prefer rose centers to have stigmas and stamens.

Jim Sproul

Robert, you may wish to discard the seedlings prone to vegetative centers. From experience with named varieties which exhibit the fault regularly, if it’s there, you’re going to deal with it. One which comes readily to mind, Tequilla Sunrise, which is gorgeous here…sometimes, expresses the vegatitive centers on easily 65% of the flowers in my area. The proclivity increased with heat and available nitrogen. I decided early to cull out those which expressed the trait. Kim