The Q&A Archives: Wood Rose Seed Propagation

Question: I have some seeds I found in my grandmother's estate. The bag is marked Wood Rose Seeds. They are brown and wrinkled and about the size of a marble. How can I propagate these correctly and grow them. It would be appropriate to have these in honor of her, since her name was Rose. I've heard these were beautiful.

Answer: In a database search, I found 4142 roses listed, but there was nothing with the common name of wood rose. Common names can vary around the country, as well as from generation to generation, so I'm not sure exactly what plant you have. Roses can be propagated from seeds, although germination is sometimes difficult and can take two seasons. Rose seeds are about the size of tomato seeds or lemon seeds. I wonder if what you have is the entire rose hip, with seeds inside. Rose hips are about the size of a marble.

According to the American Horticultural Society's book, Plant Propagation, seeds are usually extracted from fresh hips in mid to late autumn, but here's the procedure. Rose seeds need to be stratified with cold to aid germination. Remove from the hip and place seeds either in a plastic bag or in a seed tray in moist peat, vermiculite or sand. Keep at about 70 degrees F until late winter. Then chill seeds by placing the bag or tray in the refrigerator at just above freezing (35 degrees) for 3-4 weeks. Then sow the seeds in individual cells or pots and leave in a cool, sheltered place such as a cold frame. They may take one year to germinate. Pot the seedlings up when they have the first set of true leaves.

In cold climates, the entire hip can be layered 2 inches deep in a container in moist peat, vermiculite or sand and left outdoors for 12-15 months in a cool, shady place. The seed coats break down naturally. In early spring of the second year, remove the now stratified seeds and sow them in an outdoor bed. Cover with fine soil or soil mix. Germination can take 2 months.

Depending on how many "marbles" you have, you might want to try each method (do you have any family members in cold climates?). Another possibility is to contact The American Rose Society, PO Box 30,000, Shreveport, LA, 71130-0030, 318/938 5402, 318/938-5405 fax to see if they are familiar with the common name wood rose. I hope this info helps. Good luck!

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