Tuesday, March 25, 2014


From my earliest memories of wanting to breed roses, I remember pouring over rose books to select possible prospective parents for my breeding program.  One of the first roses that caught my eye was 'Euphrates'.  At the time, I had no idea what Hulthemia hybrids were.  I only knew that I was disappointed to read in it's description that 'Euphrates' was infertile.

Last year I was so excited to receive a rooted piece of 'Euphrates' from Kim Rupert.  After I planted it, all of the foliage died.  I thought that maybe the smaller roots may not have been able to support it's growth.  I had already failed twice in trying to root cuttings of 'Euphrates', so the thought hit me that I would just simply not be able to grow 'Euphrates'.  I had wanted to try it in hybridizing after hearing that it had been used by others to produce seedlings, even though I had previously read that it was infertile.  I was glad that I kept that piece with a root on it because after a few more days, it started to put out some new growth.  Although it didn't bloom last year, it has developed buds this year, and just started blooming yesterday.

Somehow, I had thought that the blotch would be much larger, but I suppose that even 'Euphrates's blotch was dependent on several variables just like the modern Hulthemia hybrids that I have grown.  This bloom and 2 others have been crossed with hybrid Hulthemia pollen in hopes that better compatibility will exist than when crossing with regular roses.

It may just be an unproductive exercise, however, I would like to see if 'Euphrates' will be able to bring any other interesting traits to the Hulthemia hybrids.  Below are photos of some of the new 2013 seedlings that are just now blooming for the first time outside of the greenhouse.  Blotch size and intensity continue to increase.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hulthemia Persica Seedlings (Part 1)

These most ancient of roses, Hulthemia persica, from Persia (Iran), have now begun to grow here in Bakersfield.  Though their cotyledons appear rose like, their first true leaves do not.  They are not compound like roses (having many leaflets), but just have a single leaf coming directly from the stems.  It hasn't taken them very long to germinate and grow!

As can be seen in the lower left seedling, powdery mildew is already affecting some of these seedlings. Germination has been fair so far with 16/73 seeds sprouting (22% germination rate).  This is very similar to the average germination rate that I see in rose seeds (varies widely depending on the rose seed parent).  I wonder how many years it will take these seedlings to bloom?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hulthemia Persica Seeds (Part 2)

In order to rehydrate the Hulthemia persica seeds, I decided to wrap them in a damp paper towel, place them into a zip-lock bag and put them in the refrigerator.  After about 2 weeks, I took the seeds out of the paper towel and found that the paper towel had been darkly stained from the seeds.

The seeds were removed from the paper towel and placed back into the zip-lock bag and put back in the refrigerator for another 6-8 weeks.  Upon removal from the bag, much to my excitement, I found that one of the seeds had germinated!  I knew then that at least some of the seeds were viable.  This was great news.

Additionally, I noticed that the seeds were covered in a yellowish green material, something that I had never seen on rose seeds.  I suppose that it was a fungus.

Next, I divided the seeds into two groups: one group (43 seeds) was planted into the seedling benches along with the rose seeds; and the other group (30 seeds) was planted into a sandy soil mix taken from the native soil in my back yard (5 seeds per pot).

The story will continue…..

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hulthemia persica Seeds! (Part 1)

Last April I received the most amazing gift - Hulthemia persica seeds from Iran!  They came to me by way of Dr. David Byrne of Texas A&M University.  The seeds were brought to the U.S. by doctoral candidate Mahnaz Kiani.  She is working on a genomics project on sorghum with Dr. Patricia Klein.

Since it was already after my usual planting time and having already had experience germinating 'Tigris' seeds that were more than a year old, I thought that it would be prudent to put the envelop containing the blackened seed pods into the refrigerator for safekeeping until I could plant the seeds along with my rose seeds in 2014.

This is what the contents looked like when I opened the clear plastic bag last November.

The hips looked almost like they had been scorched and were completely dry and crispy. It made me wonder whether any of the seeds would be viable.

Seen close-up below, you can imagine how "unfriendly" the hips were.  I had to be careful removing the seeds so as not to puncture my fingers!

I noticed that unlike rose seeds, Hulthemia persica seeds were more uniform in shape and size.  Additionally, the seed covers appeared rather smooth.  Approximately 20 hips yielded 119 seeds.  73 of these seeds were placed in a damp paper towel and returned to the refrigerator in a zip-lock bag for further cold stratification.

The story will continue…..