Creating a new rose

a quick guide

by Lily Whitworth-Biehler
BSc (Hons)

1. Select the seed parent rose (the one that will turn into a hip and produce the seeds) Remove the flower petals and cut off all the stamen (this removes the pollen so the rose can't self fertilise). This will leave the central stigma exposed.

2. Select the pollen parent. Remove the petals and gently tap over a clean sheet of paper, if you see pollen grains it's ready, if not store over night gently wrapped in the paper and it should ready the following day. The next day directly transfer pollen from the cut pollen parent onto the prepared stigma left on the plant. Most breeders will pollinate twice, repeating this process the next day.

3. Secure and label your fertilised rose. Cover the pollinated flower head with a plastic bag. This prevents any rain washing the pollen from the stigma and prevents further cross pollination from helpful little Bees. Pop a label on it so you know the date and which roses you used to create your Hybrid. It is usual to list the seed parent first then the pollen parent.

4. Wait. It takes around four months for the hip to ripen. Try to remove hips before the frosts start to get heavy.



Bagged to prevent cross pollination

Seeds in a ripened hip

5. Germination Open the hips and clean the seeds, using a metal sieve will help to scarify the seed coat. Place the seeds into a plastic bag with lightly dampened perlite and store in a warm room for one month. After this the bag can go outside in a shed or garage. After about 6 weeks some of the seeds will have begun sprouting, pot these into seed trays in a seed compost.

6. Selecting your hybrid. As the new roses develop you'll soon see the differences between them and hopefully you can choose one that you like and nurture it to maturity. Once you've got a good plant with plenty of buds you can graft the buds on to neutral root stock and duplicate your new rose.

7. Keep calm and carry on. It's extremely rare to get a completely unique rose out of a first generation breeding pair. Several generation breeds are normally necessary to eliminated little quirks in the growing form. So no, you probably haven't just made a fortune on your first attempt. However, keep going and keep a record of what you've done - you never know what might pop up next year!

Budding roses ensures that an identical rose is reproduced.

You might get lucky and breed a blue rose, (that's blue, not purple) or even a black one - the 'holy grail' for rose breeders.