Sunday, February 26, 2012

Germinating Rose Hip

I found this sprouting seedling the other day ago while cleaning out some of the pots of old leaves and other debris.  As seen in the photo below, the seedling is sprouting right out of the hip.  It reminded me of the time when I experimented planting whole rose hips directly into seedling flats and stratified them like that in the refrigerator.  I had wanted to see if there was something about the hips that would inhibit the seeds from germinating.  The hips had come from 'Avandel', a miniature rose, that I had learned many years ago from Carolyn Supinger of Sequoia Roses, was a good miniature rose seed parent.  My experiment proved that rose seedlings are happy to germinate directly from the rose hips.  The problem came when trying to separate one seedling from another because they all germinated together from the hip.  It was difficult to separate them without breaking the fragile roots.  This seedling too had a broken root, so was not transplanted, but it made me think again about how much living things are made to live.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Germination Progress

Early in the year, in order to track progress and to assess germination rates, I make 3 or 4 counts of all of the seedlings that are germinating.  My first count this year was made last weekend.

So far, there have been 5,033 germinations.  Among these 2,751 were from Hulthemia crosses, and among those, there were 483 seedlings coming from crosses between Hulhemias and stripes.  Over the next 6 weeks, I anticipate an additional 5,000 to 10,000 seedling germinations.  By then, some of the new seedlings will be blooming for the first time.

Below is a portion of the Excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of my seedlings.

I have found the spreadsheet to be particularly helpful when assessing the germination rates of new seed parents.  The far left column under "F", contains the number of germinations for each particular cross.  The percent germination can be seen in the right column.  Early in the season among the better germinating seed parents, there is often a large difference in germination rates reflecting the difference in time that it takes for seeds from a particular cross to germinate.  The seeds from some seed parents germinate very early, while other seed parents are late germinators.  Generally, I'll get 25-30% overall germination by the end of the season.

Before using a new seed parent, I will usually check the germination rate for "OP", or open pollinated seeds first before spending (and perhaps wasting) any time on them making crosses.  That is an important step, because many roses that produce abundant hips and seeds, have very poor germination rates.  With one seed parent, code name N147-30, I decided to take a chance and use it since I liked it so much and it seemed to set hips well.  Fortunately, it has turned out to have good germination rates (ranging from 27.27% to 38.69%).  N147-30 resulted from a cross of 'Pearl Sanford' X 'Thrive!', and is a miniflora to floribunda sized rose having a nice bright red coloring and glossy foliage with above average cleanliness.

Further down on the sheet there are several new seedlings that were tested for germination rates.  Two sister seedlings that I like very much, N161-1 and N161-2, are nice miniature Hulthemias that set loads of hips.  Usually, I will only pick 10-15 hips each of a new seed parent to check germination rates, so as not to waste too much seedling bench space.  With these two however, I had high hopes for them being good germinators and wanted to see the range of seedling possibilities, so I picked lots of hips and planted all of their seeds.  As you can see, out of 1,454 seeds of N161-2 that were planted, there have been ZERO germinations so far!  That is powerful evidence that time should not be wasted using it as a seed parent.  It is possible that these are both later germinators since the seed parent of these two is also a late germinator, so I will wait and keep my fingers crossed.  Later in the season, I will give an update on their final germination rates.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crested Moss Seedlings

The new 2012 seedlings are sprouting like crazy and some of my most hoped for crosses are showing excellent germination.  Shown below is a group of seedlings coming from a Hulthemia cross.

Although the development of new Hulthemia hybrids is my primary focus, I have interests in other unusual roses as well.  One of my other interests is to develop a good repeat blooming crested moss miniature rose.

On the website HelpMeFind, the crested moss trait is given this description: "The fringed and mossy sepals project from the buds in such a way that they resemble little three-cornered hats like the French tricorne that Napoleon often wore" (for more information about crested moss type roses, please google "Chapeau de Napoleon rose", or for an excellent description, please go to Paul Barden's website at  My interest in the crested moss roses was first piqued by Mr. Ralph Moore several years ago.  He spent more than 30 years working with the crested moss roses before he got any repeat blooming seedlings.  He ended up with a handful of repeat blooming crested moss varieties that have not been released.  One of his repeat blooming hybrids that I have had the opportunity to work with is his "Red Crested Moss".  It produces large red semi-double to double blooms and has a fair amount of cresting on its sepals.  Although it rarely sets hips (I have only seen one), it has proven to have good pollen fertility.  I had not used it much until last year, but was very happy to see that many hips were produced and was even more pleased to see an excellent germination rate among several of the crosses where it was used as the pollen parent.  The batch seen below, is from a cross of 'Pearl Sanford' X "Red Crested Moss". I may have planted them too densely to allow for good growth.

While it is possible that the first generation may not exhibit any of the crested moss type sepals, I am very excited to see what develops over the next few weeks!