What's ripeness?

Most of my crosses were done early to mid-April, so they are about 4 months on the bush at this point. In the past, I’ve waited until they were ripe (some color change, orange flesh) - but for some reason, in my garden that’s at about 5 months, and my germination rate for most batches has not been high. This year, I’ve (nervously) harvested earlier based on recent discussions here, but most hips looked unripe with no color change. Some had dried sepals, some not. So, my question is, do you give more priority to “looks” or “time?” Here are some scenarios:

Would you pick or leave these? And how long would you wait if you chose to leave them? Assume these are Hybrid Teas or Floribundas.

  1. On 98 days, still green with green sepals

  2. On 98 days, still green with dried sepals

  3. On 120 days, still green with green sepals

  4. On 140 days, still green with green sepals

I have the same situation as you and I have started picking the hips at 110 days with dried sepals more of less. Most of these hips are still green but have blanched some(just a little paler green). I give them 6 weeks warm stratification anyway so maybe they will finish ripening if they are now quite there. Everything seems a little different every year so have to play it by ear.


Judith - Our mentors told us to look at the stem just under the hip and harvest when it starts to turn brown, but suppose that it can be different where you are. Some have had this color change for us in the 90 day range, whereas others have been in the 140 - 150 day period. I guess I have always thought of Mother Nature - they fall off when they are ready! There has been a lot of discussion as to whether germination is factored by harvest time or other genetic considerations. We have had some that were harvested at 95,110,120 and 150 days and have had some lousy germination from all. Just like the lottery!! LOL

I’ve had some hips that didn’t turn color even though they were on the plant for 6 months. I harvest most hips at 110-125 days regardless of color.

Dried sepals can be a clue for some varieties, but I have at least one rose whose sepals dry up a few weeks after fertilization, long before the hips are ripe.

Some rose hips like Queen Elizabeth doesn’t need to be orange before seeds can be harvested-- I’ve noticed that germination are more quicker when the hip is still greenish.

Enrique, are the sepals dried or still flexible?

Flexible, I believe.

Great, thanks, Enrique.


From my experience the time for seed maturity varies with the variety and as previously stated color change can’t always be counted on to indicate maturity. Also being a little north of your old turf many of my crosses don’t make it 120 days before some solid freezes set in. Any ways I’ll relate a particular experience.

Last year thanks to some deer browsing in my roses some pollinated hips of Paloma Blanca were knocked of the plant on Sept 22. The hips were pollinated on June 26 & 27th, so they had less than 90 days and were green and I was sure they were still not mature enough. However, I saved and stratified the seeds like usual and was surprised to get about 2/3s germination. Also after coming out of the frig in February almost all germinated within 30 days (about 45 seeds). Some of the same crosses made at the same time but remaining on the bush till the end of October had a somewhat lesser germination rate and took much longer, over 2 months to germinate.

I also found that Prairie Princess can mature within 90 days. I guess a little trial and error and some record keeping would help.