Which roses are sterile or don't set hips?

gr8heather(6b)June 10, 2014

I've begun cross pollinating roses for this year, and I have a few I'm not sure about, are any of these sterile? If a rose is sterile, does that mean that it won't set hips, and the pollen is also useless, or maybe just one or the other?
I have:
Ketchup & Mustard
Purple Tiger
Perfume Tiger
Rock & Roll
Queen Elizabeth

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The answer to your question can literally depend upon climate. Iceberg never set hips for me in any hot, inland gardens, yet in the cool, damp coastal areas, it looks like a danged fruit tree! It's LOADED with hips. Of course few germinate and even fewer produce plants worth raising, but that's another issue.

A rose can be self sterile, meaning it won't cross with itself. It can be seed sterile, meaning it is incapable of setting seed, or its seed are incapable of germinating. It can be pollen sterile, meaning its pollen is of no use. It can be any combination of all of these. My suggestion has always been to stop dead heading in your garden. Observe which of your roses set self hips easily, then germinate the seedlings they have set to learn which are good seed parents; which have easily germinated, viable seed, and learn how to raise the seed before putting out the effort and time to generate your own crosses.

Queen Elizabeth, in my experience, is another "fruit tree". She is SO fertile (how fertile is she?), she shuts down completely here if I don't keep her dead headed. She sets ENORMOUS hips and every seed germinates. That's one reason why she has so many listed descendants on Help Me Find - Roses.

Purple Tiger...in my experience, it sets few hips with few seeds, either by itself or deliberately and the even fewer seedlings are just as awful as it is. In my opinion, definitely NOT worth the resources required to pollinate it and raise any resulting seedlings. When John Walden, formerly Keith Zary's assistant at the J&P Research Center in Somis, CA, visited my garden years ago, shortly after Purple Tiger was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, I asked him WHY they released such a weak, diseased rose. He laughed and responded that if I thought it was bad now, I should have seen it BEFORE they "cleaned it up". J&P bought Armstrong Roses for their PATENTS, not for their stock. He said Armstrong's stock was so badly virused, they had to burn the crop in the fields. J&P reportedly had Purple Tiger indexed to remove the RMV from it. Even after being "cleaned up", all it had going for it were those flowers. I have yet to see a plant of it which is significantly stronger or healthier than the several I nursed along all those years ago. There are FAR better roses for you to play with than this "thing".

I have not grown Rock and Roll, Perfume Tiger nor Ketchup and Mustard, but of the three, I would expect Ketchup and Mustard to have the most promise for breeding. It was created from City of San Francisco, a prolific red floribunda with a decent reputation for health and vigor. It's been successfully used to create further commercial roses such as Drop Dead Red, Teeny Bopper, Oh My!, In the Mood and Ketchup and Mustard.

The other parent of Ketchup and Mustard is Shockwave, which has a rather good pedigree, whether it has been well mined for all it has to offer or not. Of those you've listed, Queen Elizabeth has been heavily mined and may not have a lot more of any real difference to offer. Perfume Tiger may give something worthwhile, though I would expect many of its offspring to be rather rangy, floppy growers due to the Roller Coaster heritage it contains. Rock and Roll I personally would avoid due to the George Burns heritage. Calico, which made George Burns, I grew many years ago when I collected the odd colors. Even in a very beneficial climate, Calico had some pretty severe disease issues. New Zealand may help in that department, or not. Purple Tiger, well, "Purple Tiger".

I've seen many hips forming on Ketchup and Mustard in this climate. Hopefully, it will do similarly in yours and they will germinate well. That's the one I would focus on from your list. I believe it to have the greatest potential for honestly improved plants with better vigor and health. Good luck! Kim

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 12:21AM
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I never know when my queen Elizabeth hips are ready for harvesting .. mine are big and fatband green but have what look..like big red seeds should i wait till.the turn orange or harvest now

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 7:59PM
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With sufficient heat and time, they will turn yellow. It only takes about 110 to 120 days from pollination until the seeds are viable. Think of them as apples. Depending upon climate and weather, they may not receive enough heat and sun to actually turn colors. You're safe counting the days. As long as they've been on the plant about three months, you can plant the seeds and expect something to germinate, if it's done at least well enough to permit germination. I often go by the number of days instead of waiting for them to color. Green hips aren't nearly as attractive to squirrels and rats as yellow and red ones are, so I beat them to my efforts using the time instead of color. Kim

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 2:34AM
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Thanks for the advice. Here in Florida we have soo many pest : birds ,fruit rats and squriels. I will count the days and out smart the pests . Is it illegal to plant seeds from a patented rose like say a drift ... cause i have peach and apricot drifts and they hip constantly . I dead head once a month and each bush ha two at least . It would be fun to try

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Thanks for the advice. Here in Florida we have soo many pest : birds ,fruit rats and squriels. I will count the days and out smart the pests . Is it illegal to plant seeds from a patented rose like say a drift ... cause i have peach and apricot drifts and they hip constantly . I dead head once a month and each bush ha two at least . It would be fun to try

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Thanks so much, Kim, what a wonderful answer.
Unfortunately (maybe?) Purple tiger is the main one I have been able to cross so far.. LOL. How is it's pollen, do you know?

It's a long shot, but I'd love to have purple/yellow striped rose. Do you know of any that already exist? In addition to the ones I listed, I do have a few more named babies, and lots of unknowns that I hope to try to cross this year, too.

I've already grown roses from seed, for the first time this year, and I was pretty successful at it. I just got some self pollinated ones from my mother in law's rosebush, but they did quite well and I got about 30 new roses.

I've only had my roses maybe 3 years, and I usually deadhead so I haven't noticed hips on any but Rock & Roll and Queen Elizabeth (&maybe perfume tiger). It should be interesting to see if Ketchup & Mustard sets hips. Right now, as they are first blooming, they don't seem to have much of a bump below the bloom, while other varieties have a quite large bump (hip?). Does this indicate anything?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 1:06PM
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You're welcome! Thank you. No, it is not illegal to plant seeds from patented roses. If the plant is patented, that protection only applies to reproducing that plant asexually (budding grafting, rooting, etc.), not "sexually", through the use of pollen (sperm) or seed. The difference is when you encounter a rose containing patented GENES. Applause, the gene spliced "blue rose", contains a gene artificially inserted into the plant. That gene is patented and it contains "markers" which make it possible for the owner to test for and prove whether their patented property is contained in the questioned plant. If it is, you have broken the law and owe them royalties, plus any penalties a court would find you liable for. But for standard garden roses, no, you are free to plant their seed and use their pollen. This patented gene issue is at the heart of the Monsanto GMO crops issues.

The only "purple and yellow striped" rose I've come across, I've never seen photos of. There was an Indian mutation of the old Pigalle, Tata Centenary, which was described in Modern Roses as purple and yellow stripes. The description entered into Help Me Find-Roses states red with yellow. There have been reddish purple with yellowish reverese, though neither color remained very stable and degraded into other tones. I don't know if it would be possible to create that combination. I would imagine the best possibility would be from a spontaneous mutation of the purple with yellow reverse. The easiest combination appears to be pink/white and red/white. Getting a fairly stable yellow with red took many tries and required many seedlings. Ralph Moore is the gentleman responsible for bringing stripes into modern roses. Prior to his decades of working toward that goal, stripes were usually mutations of solid colors. He wanted to create striped minis. The only rose he could find which wasn't known to be a striped mutation was Ferdinand Pichard, which had no stated parentage. Of any possibilities, he theorized this stood the greatest chance of being the source for what he sought. I was blessed to have known and visited with him for many years and asked him why he chose such a disease ridden rose to base his entire breeding on. He said it seemed the only possibly successful route. He was right.

He crossed Little Darling with Ferdinand Pichard and raised the seedlings. Only a few showed any striping at all. and all only on one or two petals. He continued working with the mildewy, leggy results until he obtained flowers with fully striped flowers. The early ones were pretty much short climbers due to the HP and Little Darling's leggy characters. He continued crossing the striped results into the miniatures and produced Pinstripe, what he felt was one of the best striped plants. Sam McGredy wanted Pinstripe for breeding, but Mr. Moore wasn't finished with it yet, so he gave Mr. McGredy Stars'n'Stripes and suggested he could obtain a more dwarf, bushy plant by raising self seedlings from it to fix the bush form before breeding with it. Obviously, from the leggy, semi climbing character of McGredy's early striped large roses, he didn't take the advice.

I have never found any evidence of anyone else discovering a source for striped roses other than Mr. Moore's striped minis. I think it very safe to say that all the modern striped roses which aren't stated to be sports, resulted from his striped mini line and its descendants. All of today's modern moss roses; striped roses; crested moss hybrids; even the modern Hulthemia hybrids (particularly the American results), go back to Mr. Moore's work bringing those traits into modern roses through miniatures.

It's been MANY years since I've messed with Purple Tiger at all. Nothing that ever resulted from its pollen was healthy enough to live long or maintain for further observation. It just doesn't contain good genes and isn't strong on its own. That's the issue when you have a rose selected solely for its flower, the "pretty face". It's like selecting a dog from a breeding line which only considers markings or form while it ignores disposition and health. It may be beautiful, but at what cost? Any good dog breeder (and rose!) will tell you, "Recessives are forever". Once a weak or bad gene becomes homogenized it's virtually impossible to get rid of.

Congratulations on your seedlings! You were fortunate to hit on the right combination of variables to have that kind of success right off the bat.

The ovaries can vary greatly in size from one variety to the next. That's another genetically determined variable. Some don't make large ovaries, but can produce good seed. Others can make huge ovaries with little to nothing to show for them. That would be the rose version of a "seedless fruit" variety. When you consider the "hip" as a piece of fruit, it's easy to extrapolate what you see on the plant to what you know about other fruit. Roses which don't set hips are like fruitless, flowering peaches, pears and cherries. Those which set few to no seeds are like seedless oranges, etc. When creating fruit varieties, they seek large "hips" with few to no seeds. We're going a different route in hopes of creating good seeds containing desirable genes. A great deal of that is determined by what you select as parents. Another good percentage depends upon appropriate selection of the results with probably as great a percentage depending upon LUCK. J&P stated in the seventies they raised hundreds of thousands of seedlings a year. You see what they obtained from those kinds of numbers. Then you have the fortunate few "amateurs" who have raised just a few seedlings and obtained really quite good roses which have gone on to be large commercial successes in many countries. I don't think you can say luck wasn't involved when you can obtain a rose like Sheila's Perfume from raising some seedlings on your kitchen window sill.

The odd colors (browns, greys, greens, even mauves and darker purples) resulted from a fairly similar "recipe". Edward LeGrice, who created the first modern 'Coffee Roses', stated that recipe in his Breeding for Unusual Colors article. Paul Barden archived it at the link below. You should notice the red/yellow bicolor figures in nearly all of them. Ketchup and Mustard IS the modern day ancestor of R. Foetida bicolor. It's also vigorous, healthy, productive and holds great promise for something quite interesting. If I was searching for odder colored striped results, I would definitely consider pressing K&M into service with the stripes and any other healthy roses in my garden.

If you're serious about obtaining real improvements in your seedlings, you honestly should consider buying a Premium Membership to Help Me Find-Roses. It costs $24 a year and it affords you the ability to research the parentage of all the roses which are contained in the database. It's the largest, most complete database of roses there is. Just as you don't want to inbreed animals, you should desire not to inbreed roses, for the same reasons. If you want better chances for health and vigor, you should research what made the roses you want to use and keep the common ancestors to a minimum. Inbreeding can help to stabilize a characteristic you want to isolate, but it also homogenizes bad ones, too. Remember, "recessives are forever"! Once you have a line of roses which shed all their foliage after flowering, it's very difficult to massage the line to drop that trait. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Unusual Colors in Roses

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 2:19PM
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