Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Longer than expected germination

I don't usually hold on to seeds planted longer than their originally expected germination period. Here, I find what I want to raise germinates within a few months (at most) from sewing, so there really isn't the need, much less room, to hold an "empty" table until the next season. 

Last year, I was given seed from R. Xanthina. I planted half last year, hoping for something to result from them. Only one seedling came up and I'm honestly not convinced it is from those seeds. Fortunately, I know what was planted in the row beside the Xanthina. I use the soil in the seed tables to pot the seedlings in as I remove them to make room for the next round of new seeds. I noticed in the pots containing the seedlings from what was raised beside where the Xanthina seed were planted, some odd appearing little roses are germinating. These have been under soil now for 15 months. 

I'm glad I deliberately planted the Xanthina seed next to something which appears completely different! I'm excited to see these beginning to show up. I'd looked for R. Hugonis "flore pleno" or Double Hugonis as well as the double form of Xanthina pretty much in vain. Each source listed on Help Me Find - Roses responded theirs had only five or six petals, or they had simply lost the variety entirely. 

Per the 1919 American Rose Society annual, Frank Meyer, the same Frank Meyer responsible for discovering and bring to the United States the Meyer Lemon, brought Xanthina seed from China and raised seedlings in 1906. He found some of them varied quite a bit in petal count; some were true singles with only five petals,while others had up to several rows of petals. For whatever reason, the more double forms of Xanthina appear to have fallen out of commerce here. Hopefully, one or more of these Xanthina seed will provide flowers with multiple petals! 

Some years ago, I raised a cross of Ralph Moore's climbing yellow miniature breeder, 1-72-1, crossed with what he gave me as R. Hugonis. The seedling has been code named, 1-72-1Hugonis so I can keep track of it. I've used it as both seed and pollen parent with some very interesting results. Seedlings from the use of its pollen on other more modern roses appear to germinate easily in the expected few months from planting. Seeds from this plant, whether they were apparently self-set or from my deliberate attempts to pollinate it with other roses, germinated sparsely. As I did with the spoil containing the Xanthina seeds, I know where the soil containing the 1-72-1Hugonis seeds was used. I am also seeing these seed now germinating after 15 months in soil. In some cases, the original seedling from last year failed, but others of its siblings are coming up to fill the pots. 

My suggestion is, if you intend to raise seedlings from species, plan on needing to retain the soil and containers you initially plant them in for at least a full year after planting. Not all species have expressed this delayed germination, Fedtschenkoana for one, but these from the Yellow Chinese Species definitely are. You may need to reserve those containers much longer than you may have originally intended to obtain the results you desired. 


  1. Do you chill all your rose seeds before planting. In damp paper towel or just in jar. I have never tried seeds but have some~~~I think I will try. Enjoy your blog!

  2. There are numerous methods of stratifying rose seeds, Gwen. I have tried many of them and have usually found myself with more than enough seedlings for me to handle without resorting to anything expensive or "esoteric". I don't work with anything very "Arctic hardy" as I live in the land of endless summer where "cold hardy" means able to withstand about 35 F. Often, the greater the extreme cold hardiness of the parents, the longer and colder the seeds need to be exposed to so they "know" winter has passed. Now, I traditionally begin collecting the hips between 3.5 and 4 months after pollination to beat the vermin to them. I shell them immediately, cleaning all the fibers and pulp from them as possible, the store them with a plastic label (marked with # 2 pencil as it lasts forever!) in small plastic bags which I place in the refrigerator until I can plant. Often, that is up to four or five months because I can't safely plant them until after Thanksgiving in this climate. I store them in cold more to hopefully delay germination until that time than to provide them with a "winter". Here, we can have extremely hot, dry conditions until late November. They won't usually germinate under those conditions, so why go through the effort of planting them and having to keep them watered? If I wait until after Thanksgiving, the rain SHOULD begin which helps them germinate dramatically. Of course, timing and conditions are going to vary tremendously from one climate to the next, but that's what I do with them here. The few years I've actually planted them right from the hips without any cold storage, germination was extremely high. You'll find some years, no matter how they've been stored, nor what efforts you have made, your germination percentages will swing widely from very low to very high. For my "laziness", I found the method which demands the least from me which delivers the most acceptable success rate. This is supposed to be fun and not work, right? Good luck!

    1. "The few years I've actually planted them right from the hips without any cold storage, germination was extremely high."

      This is what I do, but I'm in Sydney, Australia where the hardest "freeze" I'll see in winter is dew turn into a very thin sloppy bit of ice for a few hours at most once or twice a year that seems to not be remotely cold enough to do any damage except to tropical plants (and even then...it's extremely minor). I don't chill, seeds are harvested last week of summer (would harvest earlier but no seedlings would survive summer when it starts above 100F every other day), sown by the first week of autumn, sprouts start about 3 weeks later. The seeds won't have seen temperatures below 60F at that point, but will have had numerous days over 100F while in the hip so I'm not entirely convinced on the need to chill (at least not with modern hybrids, most everything I go stems back to Moore, Kordes or Carruth...roses from those breeders seem to be available globally so nothing special going on with my garden). So don't take the chill requirement as law even though it's usually presented as a 100% requirement, it hasn't been for me.

  3. Thank you, P. Even with more "species" types, there are some which won't require that chill period. Mr. Moore used to say he thought that was "Nature's plan" so in warmer winters, something would germinate, leaving the more cold requiring ones to lie in the soil until colder conditions arrived. If they did and the seeds were still viable, they may germinate. It would be a way for plants to "adapt" to changing conditions. He also felt those which germinated quickly were likely more of the dwarf, repeat flowering types needed for warmer climates while those requiring the longer germination were likely those better suited to colder conditions. Whether that actually holds true over time would require someone to test the theories, but I can see his logic. When I lived in the "extreme heat" climate, I would use refrigeration to hold the seeds until planting, until I decided just to hold them where they would experience temps below 80 F, until I could plant. Now I live in a much cooler, damper climate and I date the tags so I know when they should be ripe and plant them pretty quickly after harvesting. They are germinating about as well as they did previously. I actually had three batches of planting in 2016. Some were generated in 2015; some were mid 2016 and some around the beginning of autumn. All are germinating at about the same rate. Good luck!