cakes roses
Photo by Gerrit Klein on Unsplash

Professional breeders go through complicated procedures to produce new varieties of roses.

by John Bagnasco

Jackson & Perkins used to plant about 300,000 seeds in order to get three to six new roses to introduce. I've found these simple steps can give some great new plants.

1. Allow rose hips to ripen (do not harvest when green). Since the flowers were pollinated by insects, the seeds you harvest will grow into a plant with different characteristics., especially if harvested from a hybrid rose variety.

2. Cut the hips open and remove the seeds. Cut open the rose hips with a knife or pair of pruning shears revealing the seeds inside. Pull these out with the tip of your cutting instrument. The number of seeds in each rose hip varies greatly between rose varieties. There may only be a few per rose hip, or several dozen.

3. Wipe the pulp off the seeds. The easiest way is to let the seeds dry for a couple hours and then rub between your hands. Gently blow the chaff away after each rubbing.

4. Fill a container with sterile seed starting mix. Small seedling starting trays make it easy to germinate many seeds at once or use plastic drinking cups with a hole punched in the bottom. Regular soil is not recommended, as it may allow the young seedlings to die from damping off disease.

5. Plant the seeds. If planted in January, seedlings should emerge within a couple months. Seeds of some varieties may take two or three years to emerge, so don’t discard the pots.

6. Enjoy the new plants! Outdoors, the new rose plants should bloom in 8-12 weeks. The plants will be unique, so transplant to slightly larger pots and evaluate as the year progresses.