Your superlatives for...

Seeing as it is now the season when some of us plan crosses (not me – planning is not my strong suit) and/or think about the roses we wish we had in our breeding stock, I thought it might be interesting to inquire about the roses folks’ think might be their “go-to” plants for breeding various traits into their offspring moving forward. (Obviously, I’m over-simplifying in trying to look at such one-dimensional aspects, and as I try to contribute something below I realize what a silly exercise this is, nonetheless… ) I’m particularly curious about the commercially available roses that folks have found to be tried and true for various results…

I will go ahead and share my (relative lack of) experience, and welcome comments/encouragements from anyone with positive experiences with any plants I mention.

Thornlessness – (I have yet to breed a thornless rose successfully as both Softee and R. setigera serena – the two thornless roses in my garden currently – have disappointed.) I’m hoping to acquire Legacy at some juncture to play with, and might consider the thornless Wichuraiana as well, though working too much with non-remontant species will have limitations in view of my very limited garden space.

Fragrance – Most of my fragrant roses are not without other flaws – most commonly health related. Earth Angel and Dark Desire, in contrast, have both been spotless (as well as quite fragrant) but have yet to provide me with any babies. Both will want a little boost in the flower power in the next generation and some restructuring of the overall plant architecture IMHO. (I’m not into the open, splayed octopus form, personally.)

Flower-power – my most floriferous rose currently is probably Carefree Sunshine. (In a prior garden it was unquestionably “Limoncello” but I was not able to move the plant.) I have not had seed set on C.S… Carefree Beauty also gives a pretty good show a few times a year, but I’m getting tired of her PANK seedlings. (To be fair, she can take some colors from others, but thus far has definitely put a washed-out pink base to everything. And while I tell myself that as a seedling, her blooms were probably nothing to look at either, most everything from her has been passively culled through ask-me-if-I-care neglect.)

Health – obviously this is a biggee, especially for me in my no-spray Central TX garden. My healthiest plants are the Kordes roses, Earth Angel, Plum Perfect, and Kardinal Kolorscape, as well as the (useless for breeding) rose Pink Pet (obtained as Caldwell Pink), followed by Dark Desire, Carefree Beauty, and Lemon Fizz. Next up would be Summer Sun and Carefree Sunshine. (Miracle on the Hudson, Oso Easy Petit Pink and Campfire will probably be up there as well, but haven’t had a fair shake to date.)

Foliage – Some roses are just beautiful bushes even without blossoms. I’m partial to thick and deeply colored foliage. Currently, I think my Kardinal Kolorscape (Red Ayoba) has the prettiest foliage in my garden, but I have not had offspring from this plant, and its deeply colored flowers do not like TX summer heat. Plum Perfect has had very nice foliage so far, even if the shade of green does nothing to offset the blossoms. My clearance plant of Miracle on the Hudson might prove to have really attractive foliage.

I love my Blue For You, its semi-double flowers are held well on its stems and don’t “nod”(flop), it has a lovely fragrance and is disease resistant, as well as its beautiful lilac coloured flowers. I would like to try crossing it to get qualities like miniaturisation and climbing. And fragrance is massively important, and I would probably reject anything that doesn’t repeat flower, sadly as I don’t have much space.

Beautiful as they are, I am at the moment not so keen on big flowers with high petal count, mainly because I have had a few bad experiences of flowers whose stems aren’t strong enough to hold them up, and flop all over the place. So growth habit is really important. Also flowers with a high petal count can’t be accessed by pollinating insects.

I would be curious to try to produce a fragrant miniature climber with delicate semi-double flowers that are held well by their stems.

At the moment I have a rose growing from seed, it hasn’t flowered yet but is quite big, two very long climbing shoots. It seems quite delicate, and it isn’t producing a lot of shoots from its base. I can’t remember what seed it came from, as I planted a lot. Fingers crossed it flowers this year, I really wanted a sweet, delicate climber.


Climate-wise I’m probably closer to you than most here (MS Gulf Coast). I bought Miracle on the Hudson last winter. It survived the summer here in a pot (which not all can do) and produced hips from a number of crosses. It’s pollen also produced hips with seeds on a number of other roses. It was planted in the fall after it’s hips ripened and were collected and has now produced a number of OP hips which are now ripening. Foliage has been thick, dark and healthy so far. Since it has shown no signs of dormancy yet and produced two crops of hips, my concern with it is that it will continue to grow and bloom until it burns itself out and dies. I’ve seen that more than once with roses that were bred for colder climates than this.

If you’re interested, this is what Miracle on the Hudson was crossed with this year:

MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON X (1190 X BFY1037) 25 seeds, no germinations yet, pollen parent germinated from seeds from Joe Bergeson
MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON X LEMON FIZZ 3 seeds, no germinations yet
MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON X MIXED POLLEN 3 seeds, no germinations yet
MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON X R. ARKANSANA 41 seeds, no germinations yet, arkansana clone from Larry Davis
MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON X ((SUNTAN BEAUTY X ABRAHAM DARBY) X R. ARKANSANA)) 38 seeds, no germinations yet. arkansana clone from LD

(APRICOT TWIST X LEMON FIZZ) X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 11 seeds, 7 germinations so far
HIMMELSAUGE X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 33 seeds, no germinations so far
LEMON FIZZ X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 28 seeds, no germinations so far
LEMON FIZZ OP X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 4 seeds, no germinations so far
((LEMON FIZZ X (THIS IS THE DAY X LAFTER)) X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 60 seeds, no germinations so far
R. FOLIOLOSA X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 100+ seeds, no germinations so far
R. LAEVIGATA X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON hip still green, not collected yet
R. RUGOSA ALBA X CANARY BIRD / MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 134 seeds from mixed pollen, dozen plus germinations so far, appear to be seedlings from both pollen donors
R. SETIGERA X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 6 seeds, no germinations so far
SMOKE RINGS X MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON 7 seeds, no germinations so far


Mark, I shared your concerns about MOTH with Robert Rippetoe, it’s raiser. His response is, "You can tell him it shouldn’t burn itself out.

I given it more than a decade of chances. It seemingly will bloom and produce hips ad infinitum.

It’s much easier for pollen but will work for seed with some pollen donors. You might also tell him that it can produce smooth offspring." Remember, this is in Rancho Mirage, where lesser roses burn out quickly.

Thanks, Kim. That’s great news. I knew Robert bred it in a hot climate, but if he grew it for over a decade in that climate I shouldn’t have a problem.


Happy to help, Mark.

Bonica produces the quickest solution to at least 2 generations of no prickles. It germinates like a weed and has a high proportion to select from. Of course, the color and its want to sometimes produce a climber if crossed certain ways are barriers.

Dont ask me why it produces prickle-free and low prickle seedlings. It just does.

Nice of me to post a question and not get around to acknowledging those who reply, eh?. My apologies. Life…

Julie, I think BFY has a lot of potential, and clearly is a viable parent based on offspring. Pictures of its blossoms always reminded me of Lisianthus. Do you have any babies from it yet? Any plans as to what you might cross it with? (I’d like to see what might come of it and a mauve poly.)

Mark, that is pretty remarkable. My mind being on the mauve line right now, I’m wondering if MotH crossed with R. foliolosa might yield some really deep rich hues such as foliolosa yields when crossed with rugosas. I had wanted R.f. primarily to see if I could coax any of that deep purple wine color from any of its offspring. I know little about actual results beyond the colors of a few babies, and will be interested to know what your foliolosa offspring do when born of some modern roses.

MotH is a pretty popular rose in this area. I think Certified is pushing it pretty hard (a new improved K.O., I suppose) to landscapers via the big box stores. (Hasn’t K.O.'s patent run out?)

Thanks Pacificjade. (It’s Michael, right?)
Have you ever gotten anything other than washed-out PANK from Bonica? My impression is that she goes pink of white no matter what. I never worked with her when I had her though. I seem to recall some discouraging reports (was it Paul Barden who beat his head on that wall for a while?) I never thought about it, but the fact that some of her offspring might want to ramble makes sense. That whole sempervirens/Mlle Marthe Carron lot includes a lot of scrambling roses. That there would be a good percentage of thornless offspring on the other hand makes less sense to me… I would LOVE to understand that one…

I just wish the colour was easy to pass in the following gen. Not exactly the same but I have a few Ann Endt x Sweet Spot Calyspo seedlings (and they generally combined the worst traits of each other) that are all dull pinks with crumpled petals that last a few hours at most. There’s a number of other Ann Endt seedlings with various things to flower still, but hopes aren’t high.

There’s Tequila La Sevillana, orangey coloured with Bonica as pollen parent.

Hi, Phillip,

I have got non-washed out pink from Bonica. Recall that Picasso is a parent. It takes well to things handpainted types would merge well with. Use your imagination ;] And, of course, it also makes crystal white like its other parent. I suggest looking at Bonica’s 2nd gen listing on HMF for some hints.

Tequila has a few prickles, but it is mostly smooth. But its a BIG rose when mature, and it can mildew. Another flori on roids with low prickle count is Easter Basket. I suggest avoiding Easter Basket and Tequila, despite their low prickle count, because they make Iceberg look like a runt at full maturity. Tequila can also make floris that appear to be floris, but gain a climbing cane in the fall. This is due to the rubiginosa ancestor from the yellow side. You see this trait even in roses like Aperitif. I would avoid it. Its difficult to weed out until it is too late.

Ha! …And ironically, I have most of the same grievances with Carefree Beauty, but as one of my best hip-setters, I nonetheless use it. Easter Basket is one of the more recent seedlings to encourage me to continue with her.
Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me to search thornless seedlings from thorny parents.
Have you worked with any of Bonica’s close kins such as Swany or Alba Meidiland? I do tend to think a little more highly of CB than Bonica as a breeder, and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps reviews on HMF have influenced me? (I was first introduced to CB as “Katy Road Pink” while the actual rose was still under patent, and was really impressed with this “found” rose.)

I am not sure Alba Meidiland can be used in breeding. I owned it a long time ago. The inner blooms mildew and make the garden smell… how do I say this politely… like old clothes at Goodwill lol. It was very healthy and very viney though. The flowers are quite tiny. After using Lullaby as a project of insanity, good luck getting anything out of Alba Mei.

Another feature of Bonica is that is passes on red male parts to some seedlings. Its actually quite neat. Which one was it? I think I had something like (Birthday Girl x (Bonica x Shadow Dancer)) x Home Run that was red striped white with deep red parts, and Bonica x Shadow Dancer was pink striped with dark red parts. It was trippy… I still own the former, but I dont use singles anymore. It’s more compact than Home Run. Just in case youre worried about size and Bonica, it is quite easy to breed out.


My issue with foliolosa is having enough seedlings survive to move forward. I’m able to germinate both OP and crossed seedlings (in small numbers) but unfortunately most of the seedlings lack vigor and die after a period of time. The only OP seedlings that have shown great vigor all appear to be bracteata crosses. Both roses bloom concurrently every year when little else is blooming and the bees love them both, so every time I grow out OP foliolosa seedlings I get a few of these crosses. I did a deliberate cross between the two several years ago and got quite a few seedlings, so it is a viable cross. The only foliolosa/modern cross I have which has produced a mature plant (hasn’t bloomed yet) was with a seedling of mine as pollen parent that was This is the Day X ((Suntan Beauty X Abraham Darby) X Distant Drums)). This seedling was basically a combination of all the “russet” roses I’ve grown and I wanted to see what color magic foliolosa might have when used with it. I crossed foliolosa with MOTH specifically to see what a deeply pigmented pollen parent could produce with foliolosa. I’ve also seen some of the seedlings others have produced and wondered what else foliolosa might be capable of.

My plant of foliolosa is covered with OP hips this year which I don’t plan to process. If you want to try them, shoot me a private message with your address. If nothing else you might get a foliolosa/bracteata cross that wants to take over your world. My oldest seedling of the cross is about 7-8 feet high and probably twice that across. It blooms heavily (white blooms) in the spring followed by lighter bloom through the summer and into late fall.


I knew I had seen a comment from Pierre in another thread that described what I see with a lot of foliolosa seedlings. Took me a minute to find it. “Foliolosa seedling syndrome”.


I get this effect from 2 roses. (Carefree Marvel x Livin Easy) has produced this in roughly 2% of the seedlings, and Bubble Double produces this effect in roughly 5% of seedlings. Crossed together, it does this and creates random interval spacings. My feeling is that its due to deleterious genetics, and not due to virus, chemicals, or weather. There is one rose that is ((Yellow Dog x Birthday Girl) x Bubble Double) that produces this with such vigor that its fun to watch. The wich background seems to really enhance the effect, so it looks like a small, shiny orb of shredded foliage, despite being bred out of rather large rose plants.

It is a non-issue, however.

Pierre: "I know this “foliolosa seedlings syndrom”.

I have it yearly on some seedlings with foliolosa ascendent. There is no remission. Quite obvious at young seedling stage or later. Transmissible to other roses.

I guess it is a seed borne virus." [End quote]

Odd that it could be transmitted…

(Whatever happened to Pierre? Anybody know? I haven’t seen a post from him in half a decade.)

Just message him. Some people like to be left to their own devices, unless they know the other person, so I dont think discussing such things in social messaging is always wise. Especially as social messaging has become so widespread. A lot of people just opt out now, especially as we age. I would if I wasn’t devoted to improving rose culture.