Amateur Rose Breeders

Amateur Rose Breeders

As the Amateur Rose Breeders Association is in the process of being wound up; former Chairman Bob Webster is determined that the great work done by the UK's amateur rose breeders in the past will be carried on by tomorrow's amateur breeders. So Bob asks us all the question

Have you ever tried breeding a rose?

It is not difficult and it can give great enjoyment and might lead to a life-long hobby. Of course, the first rose you achieve may not be of the highest standard, but the resulting pleasure will encourage you to have another go, and another, until you have obtained a variety to be proud of.  And who knows, you may produce a rose that is the envy of the professional. This is now the time to start.

In the UK, because of our fairly cool climate rose-breeding is best carried out in a greenhouse in order to produce seed that is ripe for germination. Pot up the plants you wish to work with, although for a beginner it is best to select varieties that have fully open flowers whitch clearly expose the stigma and pollen sacs. Roses placed in the greenhouse in early April will generally produce flower in mid -May. Because roses in the garden will flower a little bit later, pollen will be scarce and thus pollen for crossing early flowers will have to come from the varieties present in the greenhouse, so the more varieties you have, the better. In the UK, after a crossing is made, swelling of the hep will occur after a few weeks and then it will start to ripen and turn red. Heps should not be harvested until 20 weeks have elapsed after pollination. Not all the seeds in the hep will germinate and number will depend on weather- conditions. Should over 50% of your seed germinate, then you have done well. For the same crossing made outdoors one would be lucky to get 10%. The sunnier and warmer the summer the better. High humidity in the greenhouse must be avoided and good ventilation is required.

The act of pollination is simple. When the flower is just fully open, the pollen sacs will be fully extended. These can now be removed before the pollen drops onto the central stigma and placed in a small container for future use. This then needs to be stored in a warm room, but out of direct sunlight. Hopefully, the pollen will have dropped after 24 hours, but it could take longer. This pollen can then be used for pollinating another variety of flower. After removal of the pollen sac, the next step is to immediately cover the stigma with pollen previously obtained from another variety.

When the hep is harvested, remove the seed and place it in a small polythene bag in slightly damp tissue and store in the fridge (do not freeze) for six weeks. The seed then can be sewn in a seed tray about 1 cm deep. Water well and keep in the greenhouse. Speed of germination will depend on weather conditions. The first seedlings should appear about 10 weeks after sewing. It is probable that by the end of June germination will have ceased and the trays can then be discarded. After a few days remove the seedling and transfer into a 4 inch  pot, taking great care not to damage the tender root. Flowering will occur from June onwards. After flowering, if the seedling is of interest, it can be planted in the ground and overwintered for further evaluation. It is important that every stage of the operation seeds and seedlings are carefully referenced  and labelled

The process is simple and I urge everyone to have a go; but I warn you . . .

You might get hooked.