Old hybrid teas, own root

jaspermplantsOctober 27, 2011

A recent post mentioned that hybrid teas are sometimes (or often?) not vigorous on their own roots. I've been wondering if this is true for more modern hybrid teas or for the old hybrid teas as well. Any ideas why this would be so for the old hybrid teas since they are hybrid perpetuals and tea mixes, generally, and both those were grown on their own roots?

I have some old hybrid teas that are young and am wondering how they will do own root. I'm currently growing Captain Christy, Mme Abel Chatenay, Kaiseren August Victoria, Duchess of Albany.

How have others done with these own root?

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Jasper, a lot about how vigorous they'll be is climate and soil dependent. I grew MANY of them in my old Newhall, CA garden. You may browse the list of what went through that garden in its eighteen year existence at the link below.

I propagated MANY roses, to the tune of a few thousand, literally, over the many years I volunteered at The Huntington Library propagating roses. From my experience propagating them, growing many of them, working with them in the gardens at The Huntington and observing them in public and private gardens all over California, I found those which were introduced prior to the mid 1920s generally grow well own root, with a few exceptions, as many of them were originally sold own root. Ease of rooting and growing own root were prime criteria for selecting which roses were to be introduced. It wasn't until around that time that the American market shifted away from own root to budding. Those of that era considered "vigorous" in the publications of their time make good garden plants where they are suited to the soil and climate. Weaker growers can be improved by budding, but weak is weak, no matter what.

You have to keep in mind that very few of them are going to be as husky, vigorous or full as many of the later types. Though many were decent for their time, it wasn't until the introduction of Peace and its influence on breeding that plants resembling more of what we know today began to be considered the "norm". Most of the older cultivars aren't as well foliated, nor do most grow as dense and full. You have to view them with eyes appropriate to their vintage. There were exceptions to all the rules, just as there are now, but for the most part, nothing from the 1920s will be as husky, dense and full as something from the 30s, 40s, 50s and later. Each decade, the bar was raised concerning health, vigor, bloom production, etc. and if you wander around a collection planted by decade, you can easily see what I mean.

Radiance, introduced in 1908, was surely initially offered own root. Eclipse, introduced in 1935, was initially offered budded. Radiance will still make a substantially better (more in keeping with 21st Century eyes expectations) own root plant than Eclipse. Once budding was the standard method of propagation, it didn't matter how well a variety rooted, nor how well it grew own root. That wasn't a consideration of their selection processes.

That doesn't mean those introduced later won't root or won't grow well own root, but many which were, aren't as good or as easy own root as earlier types are.

The four you ask about are all Nineteenth Century introductions, quite a distance from when budding became the standard production method. As long as they are happy with your soil, climate and culture types, I would expect them to perform acceptably own root for you. I would suggest, if they aren't already mature plants to pot them, growing them on until they are what you would expect from a canned, bud and bloom size plant before putting them in the ground. Young, own root plants are literally "infants" and benefit greatly from some time canned to mature and build the energy and momentum they'll need for being planted in the ground. In that old mid desert garden, I always grew new plants on in five gallon nursery cans until they were large and established enough for planting out. It made worlds of difference in their performance. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: A Hidden Sanctuary rose list

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:11AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Thanks for the informative post, Kim.

I didn't know that cuttings were the routine production method prior to the 1920s. I'm surprised to learn that.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:03AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thanks for the info., Kim - it helps me a lot in understanding own-root.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:34AM
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You're welcome! That was a great benefit of reading the older ARS annuals and rose books of the early Twentieth Century. There were advertisements and articles all over about "inferior, greenhouse grown, cheap cutting grown roses" and how the "new" budded roses were so far superior to them, beginning in the early to mid 1920s. Even later, people complained about the traveling salesmen who hawked "cheap roses", meaning immature, cutting grown types as opposed to the "superior budded plants". Even after the major players began offering only budded roses, the "cheap" producers continued offering their "cheap" roses. Apparently, budding was standardized as the propagation method of choice in Europe before it was here. I'd imagine it was due to the difference in climates and length of growing season. Sequoia was able to produce rooted cuttings nine and more months of the year in their heat. Vintage, due to their comparative lack of heat, has a much shorter production window.

Own root will always be less expensive than budded for obvious reasons, and with a portion of them, can be as good, in a few instances, better, than budded. But, for the majority of situations and types, budded plants offer great benefits to own root.

As with anything, there are down sides to it, but those are the things you have to weigh in making your decisions and choices. In my own garden, perhaps ten percent of the plants are budded. All the rest are own root and are OK performers IMO. All of my seedlings, including the mother plants of earlier ones, are own root as that is one of the important criteria I select for. I don't want to create a rose which requires being budded. I honestly don't believe that in the long run, those needing a root stock will remain in the market. I can't envision a time when there won't be some budded plants because that is what the average consumer expects. It will require a major shift in the consuming mind for them to accept smaller, less mature plants in smaller containers, even at lower prices. Yet, that same consumer will happily buy "culls", the pushed, budded plants rejected during the grading process in the rose fields as being under developed, in two and three gallon cans at big box stores at lower prices. Kim

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:37PM
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Thanks to on-line resources, I've been reading many early rose-related documents, journal articles, etc. -- some from the early 20th century, others dating back to the mid-19th century and beyond.

For me, one of the surprises found in those old materials is the fairly frequent reference to the budding of roses on various rootstocks -- roses that today are referred to as OGRs. While budding may not have been the standard production method used by early producers, it clearly was not uncommon.

Frequently, I encounter an antique print of a beautiful rose accompanied by a 'rave' review of its garden perfomance, only to learn that the rose is thought to be extinct. Various factors can lead to the loss of a variety, but I wonder now if some of those roses are no longer with us primarily because they did not perform well on their own roots.

With the profound shift in favor of modern varieties that took place after the turn of the 20th century, the labor-intensive task of budding roses was focused on the production of HTs & other modern classes. OGRs were then essentially relegated to 'pass-along' plant status. Obviously, only the varieties that performed well (or reasonably well) on their own roots survived.

We seem now to be in the midst of another radical shift as interest in rose gardening declines, and major suppliers give up the ghost. It's probable that more new modern introductions will be available only as own-root plants, and that budded moderns won't be the norm that they now are. If that should happen, expect many modern roses to disappear -- simply because they're duds on their own roots.

I find it interesting that some of Edmunds' 'exclusive' 2012 HT introductions are own-roots, as are ALL the new roses in their Biltmore Collection. One has to wonder how extensive the trials were before those roses were released. J&P had less than stellar success with their 'New Generation' (own-root) plants; perhaps Edmunds' will fare better.

Personally, I'll forever be hesitant to purchase a modern own-root. Perhaps it's attributable to my less than ideal growing conditions, but own-root HT's and Floribundas mostly have been colossal failures in my garden. The only own-root HTs that have performed reasonably well here are varieties that are monstrously robust to begin with -- for instance, 'Folklore', 'Maid of Honor', 'European Touch', 'Imperatrice Farah'.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 5:00PM
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windeaux, I believe you hit that nail firmly on the head! The "old roses" we have are mainly those which performed well own root and in wider ranges of soil and climate types. Those which required budding and were "miffy" many places, are gone. Many which old rose authors praised so highly because of their exhibition potential were absolute horrors in the garden and have mostly fallen by the wayside. The same thing with older moderns which were exhibition favorites but terrible garden plants. You'll see more of that with the finicky exhibition and florist types being nursed along now. As they (and we) age, they will receive less and less "nursing" and many are going to become extinct, to be bemoaned by those for whom their glowing descriptions beckon, much as we experience now of long lost "glories". Kim

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 5:42PM
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Thanks for the informative posts. Very interesting information!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 12:31PM
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