Roses by seed - Knowledgebase Question

Albuquerque, Ne
Question by mlm9891
February 10, 2010
I live in new mexico and want to grow roses by seed this weekend. Should I start indoors or can I start outdoors? If indoors, what kind of soil? I also have some rose bushes growing outside already. When should I start watering them? What are some good tips to get them to bloom, or grow bigger?

Answer from NGA
February 10, 2010


Roses are not difficult to grow from seed if you do it right. It may take a little while for the seeds to sprout and the plants to bloom, but with a little patience, you will end up with roses that no one else in the world has.

In the late summer or fall, collect hips that have ripened. They'll usually be yellow, orange, or red. Cut them open with a knife, and dig out the creamy white seeds. Most roses originally came from colder climates, and their seeds need to survive a winter before they sprout. We can trick them into sprouting by giving them a stratification treatment?a period of moist, cold storage.

Rinse the seeds of any fruit pulp and plant them about one-quarter inch deep in a seed-planting mix. I use a mixture of one-third perlite, one-third vermiculite and one-third peat moss. I like to use the clear plastic cherry tomato or strawberry cartons, and I plant multiple seeds per container. Seal each container in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Be sure to label each container, indicating the parent variety and the seed-planting date.

After eight to twelve weeks, bring the containers out into a warm environment (about 70F). I like to time this for early spring, when seeds are normally waking up and sprouting. As your seeds sprout, carefully transplant the seedlings to other pots with a small spoon or the end of a plant label. Don't touch the roots during this process. Feed the seedlings with half-strength fertilizer and give them lots of light when they start to grow.

After several weeks, put containers with any unsprouted seeds back in the refrigerator for another month, then try them again in the warm environment. Depending on the variety, seeds may continue to sprout over several months, but don't expect more than thirty percent of the seeds to sprout overall.

Young rose seedlings are susceptible to damping off, a disease in which the stem rots at the soil surface. To minimize damping off, use a sterile planting soil, don't overwater and, if you like, use a fungicide right after the plants come up. Provide good air circulation and lots of light.

Some of your rose seedlings may also develop powdery mildew. It is probably best to discard those plants, since they are not likely to develop resistance later in life. Keep the robust, healthy seedlings instead.

If your seeds' parents were both repeat-flowering varieties, the seedlings may flower in as little as five or six weeks after planting. Most will send up a long stem and flower in the first season. If either parent was a once-flowering rose, however, the seedlings may not flower the first year. Some may take three years or more to flower for the first time, but with a little patience, you will eventually be a proud parent.

You can begin regular watering of your established rose bushes now. To promote new growth and lots of flowers, prune them back this spring when leaf buds begin to swell on the canes.

Good luck with your roses!

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