Roses forum: Let's talk about Polyanthas and Poly-Teas

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Name: Christopher
New Brunswick, NJ, USA (Zone 7a)
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AquaEyes
Jun 21, 2018 10:32 PM CST
The earliest Polyanthas -- 'Paquerette' (bred 1872), 'Mignonette' (bred 1875), and 'Anne-Marie de Montravel' (bred 1879) were essentially dwarf repeat-blooming hybrids or Rosa multiflora. The other parent was likely a dwarf repeat-blooming China -- like 'Rouletii' or one of the other Lawrancianas, which were essentially Chinas that had a dwarfing mutation, in addition to the reblooming mutation found among other Chinas. As they continued to be bred, it seems some were raised which lacked the dwarfing mutation but retained the reblooming mutation. These Polyanthas were a bit larger in plant size than the earlier ones, but still retained a bushy rather than climbing habit. Also, the earliest were either white, but as they were bred with red and pink Chinas, their colors expanded. Later, some dwarf repeat-blooming sports of Multiflora Ramblers -- 'Tausendschon' is one example of a Rambler that begat a line of Polyantha sports -- appeared, and they, too, were known as Polyanthas. Still later, Polyanthas were bred using Rosa wichura(ia)na, which brought glossy leaves, a bit more of a lax habit, and less shade tolerance than the R. multiflora-derived Polyanthas.

So that's a very basic history of the origin of Polyanthas. But what are they? Essentially, they are small to medium shrubs which bear small flowers in large clusters, and bloom repeatedly. They tend to be a little more cold-hardy than Chinas, and so began to overtake them as "everblooming roses" in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This led to them being used for bedding -- planting beds of one variety massed together. They started to fade from popularity as they were bred with Hybrid Teas in the early 20th Century to expand color range and make larger flowers. At first, these were known as Hybrid Polyanthas, or Poulsen Roses in reference to the Danish breeder who first made these crosses. Over time, a new class was created to accommodate them -- the Floribundas. Yep, today's popular cluster-flowered class of roses goes back to the Polyanthas.

Early on, there was a small side-branch of the Polyanthas -- the Poly-Teas. Just as the Chinas had the repeat-blooming mutation, so did the Teas. They differed in that Chinas tended to be smaller and less fragrant, but in darker colors like pink and red. Teas tended to be larger and more fragrant, and in paler, translucent colors, including pale yellow and peach-apricot shades. When Teas were crossed with the early Polyanthas, the resulting offspring were stouter, had pointed buds of the Teas, but blooms were much smaller and held in large clusters. The most well-known of this side-branch is 'Mlle Cecile Brunner' (bred before 1880), aka 'The Sweetheart Rose', which originated from crossing a pink Tea with an early Polyantha. But there's another, possibly slightly earlier rose that is similar, except that its Tea parent was yellow. This Poly-Tea is 'Perle d'Or' (bred 1875), sometimes aka 'Yellow Cecile Brunner'.

2018:

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2017:

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2016:

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For me, here in central NJ zone 7, this rose took a little time to get going since coming as a band in 2013. Part of that was my ignorance at the time -- when I dead-headed it, I followed "book advice" for modern roses and cut it back to the first set of five leaflets. If you look at the pics above, you'll see that this rose sends up large "candelabras" of blooms on rather naked stems, often as new basals, still soft but already terminating in a cluster of up to 20 burds. Cutting down to the first set of five leaflets after the blooms faded meant removing a lot of growth, so poor 'Perle d'Or' remained rather small for the first two years. It wasn't until I was too busy to dead-head for a bit that I saw how this rose grows. Sprouting from otherwise naked candelabra stems -- where I couldn't see any growth buds previously -- were new shoots. So, from then on, rather than dead-heading back to a five-leaflet set, I'd just snap off the faded blooms at the tip, and leave those naked candelabra stems. Rather soon after, I'd find new shoots on many of them. Then I'd decide which to retain -- generally, the outer ones, so as to guide growth into a sort of inverted traffic cone shape -- and cut back the rest. Over the next few years, this has resulted in the shape you see in the pics above.

For me -- and for many others elsewhere -- this rose is bullet-proof, so long as you aren't in a zone colder than about 6. It gets no blackspot or mildew even without using fungicides, blooms in repeated waves with very little down-time in between and continuing until repeated hard frosts knock it to sleep, has a light and sweet scent that isn't strong up-close but floats far on the air, and is a pleasing shade of apricot fading to buff that goes with many other colors.

:-)

~Christopher







Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
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porkpal
Jun 22, 2018 6:48 AM CST
I am learning that rose history is a lot more convoluted than I realized - fascinating!

I am, however, glad to learn that my casual deadheading technique turns out to be correct for many of my roses.
Porkpal
Michigan (Zone 6b)
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HummingbirdRose
Jun 22, 2018 9:37 AM CST
I love Perle d'Or. To me, the little blooms are so whimsical. I just love them.
Sweet Pea is a new Poly for me this year, and I find her charming as well. Such a pretty thing Lovey dubby
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Jun 22, 2018 12:01 PM CST

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I first fell in love with Rose (Rosa 'Perle d'Or') on a garden tour and when I moved to this property 7 years ago, I made sure to add it. The bloom is to me one of those distinct ones, I can usually recognize it when I see it. Love the button center and can't get enough photos as the database entry will attest! The colors vary from cream with an apricot flush or a pink flush.


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lisa100467
Jun 22, 2018 12:16 PM CST
I also love the polyantha's. I enjoy the fact that many remain smaller plants, and I like clusters of small roses for bouquets amongst the "big blooms roses". I have several, and my most special and antique poly, is 'Princesse Josephine de Flandres' (Soupert & Notting 1888) I was given this rare beauty in January by a dear rosarian, who was downsizing his vast collection of roses. She was in glorious bloom before we cut her back and brought her here. Since January, she's been constantly pushing out clusters of buds, but hardly a one has opened. She's been plagued with powdery mildew. I'm not quick to spray anything, but she clearly needs some help. I keep thinking the next flush will open, as she gets established and the weather warms up here. Unfortunately, each new flush continues to mildew to the point of total failure to open, and eventually drying up on the plant. I'm just dying to see the sort of blooms she had out in the desert, when we dug her out. Hopefully her roots will recover and grow enough to supply her top with enough water soon. I'm sure that's a large part of her PM issue.
I also grow other poly's. Some of them include 'Lovely Fairy', 'Too Cute', 'Yvonne Rabier', 'Mrs. William G Koning', 'Marie Pavie', (little) 'White Pet', and probably a few others that I'm forgetting. Overall, they're a great class of roses. Lisa
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She keeps trying, but so far the powdery mildew is winning.

lisa100467
Jun 22, 2018 12:25 PM CST
By the way Chris, what a wonderful post and explaination of the class. Nicely done! Thank You!
Sue, your 'Perle d'Or' photos are gorgeous! Lisa
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Jun 22, 2018 12:25 PM CST

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Some other shots I took mostly at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden
If anyone owns these or any other, please add photos and comments to the database entries for them!!






a local Santa Rosa garden


this one taken at Vintage Gardens
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[Last edited by Calif_Sue - Jun 22, 2018 3:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Bonnie
Texas
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RosesnTx
Jun 22, 2018 12:35 PM CST
I love love Perle d'Or too. It is a bullet proof rose in Texas for sure. I gave one to my parents to plant next to their porch because it is nearly thornless and I taught my dad how to correctly dead head her and 5 years later she is at least 4 x 5 and a beautiful rose, plus her fragrance wafts and when they sit on the porch they can smell her. I also grow Marie Pavie and she wafts for me too, just a great little rose for me. And of course I love Clotilde Soupert, I grow her in a pot and she never disappoints. There are some really gorgeous pics posted on this thread!
Name: Ingrid
Northeast San Diego County (Zone 11a)
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ingrid_vc
Jun 22, 2018 3:15 PM CST
I've had quite a few of these in the past but am left with only Marie Pavie. There will not be any more in the future because they're short enough where rabbits can eat them, so from now on it's only tall roses for me, so I can take off the wire cages from the roses after they've grown enough. My White Pet is mostly in the rabbits' stomachs. They are a wonderful group for landscaping uses if you have no lagomorphs in your garden (to be fair, the rabbits are more desperate now because of the continued drought, and I can't blame them for trying to stay alive).

I do have one polyantha that I tend to forget about because the rabbits don't nibble on it much, probably because most of the growth is above their little mouths. That would be Aunt Margy's Rose, which grows 6-7 feet tall against a house wall and has 2-inch blooms of an old rose type and fragrance.


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Oops, another one is Lavender Mist, currently ensconced inside a wire cage, a darling little rose with petite leaves and lavender-pink flowers to match.


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Name: Bonnie
Texas
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RosesnTx
Jun 22, 2018 7:00 PM CST
Ingrid your Margie's rose is beautiful and Lavender mist is a sweet looking rose, I love the mix of pink and lavender. I'm so sorry your having a difficult time with the pesky rabbits, I know that has to be so frustrating and I hope it gets better for you.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jun 22, 2018 8:51 PM CST

Moderator

I have 25 of these, so I'll depart from the usual one-rose-per-post format, and I'll also ignore 10 of the 25 because they've already been discussed and pictured either in this thread or the Photos and Chat thread in recent days.

Climbing polyanthas are among the most impressive roses in my garden. When I moved into my present home and didn't have much disposable income, I used to go to the local flea market and buy roses for 50 cents to fill up my garden. They grew well, but they were small. I carried three Cecile Brunners home in my purse one Sunday.

One of them now covers two arbors.



Another didn't find enough in my garden to climb, so it crossed the fence and climbed up my neighbor's oak tree.



Happy is another climbing polyantha. It's growing on a lovely rebar umbrella trellis, which you can see in Sue's photo of my Happy. Sometimes the trellis is almost invisible because the blooms cascade down from the top.

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
Jun 22, 2018 8:58 PM CST

Moderator

Moving on to the non-climbing polyanthas, I have some that are quite obscure. All of these photos are from the database, so you can click on the names at the top of the photos and go to the database entries to see information and more photos.



Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
Jun 22, 2018 9:05 PM CST

Moderator

The ones in this post are more common but have not been mentioned yet in this thread.







Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
Jun 22, 2018 9:11 PM CST

Moderator

And now we arrive at my extra-special polyanthas I bought from Cliff when he was moving. Unfortunately, they did not adapt well after moving from the desert to my home, and perhaps I should have kept them in containers, as Cliff did. They stopped blooming a year or two ago, and I see no trace of them this year, but they were so much fun while they lasted. They produced blooms of conventional beauty as well as wild and crazy blooms.





Name: Ingrid
Northeast San Diego County (Zone 11a)
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ingrid_vc
Jun 22, 2018 10:49 PM CST
zuzu, your climbing roses are jaw-dropping in their sheer size and general gorgeousness. Not many gardens can boast of roses like this. I wish mine could.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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zuzu
Jun 22, 2018 11:22 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks, Ingrid. I love climbers.

lisa100467
Jun 23, 2018 9:56 AM CST
What gorgeous polyanthas shown here. Zuzu, my most special polyantha, 'Princesse Josephine de Flandres' came from Cliff, too! I, (well my sons, technically) dug up about 10 roses at Cliff's in January. I got some great roses. What a wonderful man, Cliff is! Lisa
East TN (Zone 7a)
Kesroses
Jun 25, 2018 2:51 PM CST
If you are z6 or warmer and wondering whether you should try growing a polyantha rose-

Polys are as tough as the carpet and drift roses for me. Most of mine are fragrant, some even with a fragrance that wafts. Their roses are small but grow in clusters. A single snip, along with several fillers, can yield a charming nosegay or a flower girl's bouquet. Most polys have multiflora ancestry and many go back to tea roses, directly or indirectly. I live in an area where landowners do battle with the multiflora rose so maybe it's no surprise that roses like poyanthas with multiflora ancestry would do well here. Teas (not the modern hybrid tea roses) also flourish here, fast growing and disease resistant in the warmer months, even with sweltering heat, drought and infertile, dry, rocky soil. Their bugaboo here seems to be the desire to begin growing early, before the last freeze and then losing their new growth. In our area spring often comes in waves, not in a gradual warming. That said, I've only lost a couple polys to winter kill and there were other problems with those.

Still wondering? Think about these:
Charles Walker Mignonette- This one came from Vintage, a rose nursery now closed. It is a found rose so no one is sure about its ancestry. But don't let any of that dissuade you. It bears bunches of nickle-sized white fragrant pom-poms that have a baby pink tinge in cool weather. It's a short rose; mine is about 2 ft. in its 4th season here. It's in bloom, just finished blooming or just getting ready to bloom all the way till a freeze. For all its virtues, it can be hard to find. Try Long Ago Roses, a mail order nursery.

Baby Alberic- supposedly the shrub form of a big old rambler called Alberic Barbier although there is some controversy about that. It isn't typical of most polyanthas either, bearing roses individually more often than in clusters.And what lovely blooms they are! The blooms are large for a polyantha and have a lovely form, a lot like some of the old tea roses. Although the official color is light yellow, mine are a soft white with an occasional cream blush in cold weather. It takes awhile for it to mature so be patient if it seems like a mess. So far as I know, in the USA this one is only available through Roses Unlimited.

Tip Top- a Pre-WWI introduction in Germany, this fragrant little polyantha travels the path from the sublime to the ridiculous. Its buds resemble a perfect little hybrid tea's with yellow centers and deep pink edges. As it opens fully it takes on the look of a pink tousle-headed ball with a white center. The roses are borne individually more than in clusters. The foliage is nearly flawless here and almost as lovely as its flowers.

Weeping China Doll- Introduced in the mid 70's, a charming rose hidden behind a sad sounding name. It's large for a polyantha, and is grown as a short climber or a weeping shrub. It has the advantage of being nearly thornless. I think this rose is most lovely cascading over a wall or embankment. The ruffled pink roses have a spicy fragrance and bloom mostly in clusters covering the flowing canes when they flush out. In full bloom the rose can stop traffic.

If you're reading this and live in an appropriate zone, I hope you'll think about trying one or several of these polys or any of the ones pictured and described above by others. I think sometimes people are intimidated by old roses. The best way to preserve old roses is for everyone to grow them, not just experts.

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