How are New Roses Bred?
Each year Peter Beales Roses launch their newest and most exciting roses. These new varieties are usually launched at prestigious flower shows, like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Typically it will take between 5 to 8 years for a rose to get to this stage and out of the few roses launched each year, around 50,000 others would have been rejected!
New varieties of roses are created by introducing the pollen of one rose to the stigma of another. This process is called hybridisation. We normally hybridise 7 days a week from late April until the end of June. Once the pollen has been introduced the mother plant will begin to develop hips, which are the seed heads of a rose. Each hip generally contains 3 to 17 seeds and each seed will germinate to be a completely new variety of rose!
Years ago new varieties were bred by planting rows of different roses together so that bees and other insects would perform the process naturally and entirely at random. Nowadays, people have a much better understanding of hybridising and our parent plants are always chosen carefully, however, the results of the crossings can often still be surprising.
At Peter Beales our aim is always to breed attractive and healthy new roses, which would make a great addition to any garden.
As an example, ‘Frilly Cuff’ launched for Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen at the RHS Chelsea Flower show in 2014; it is interesting that its parents are ‘Centenaire de Lourdes’ a bright glowing pink to pale salmon, semi-double Floribunda with wavy petals and ‘Ruby Celebration’, another semi-double Floribunda rose with dark red frilly blooms. Click here to see more from the launch of rosa ‘Frilly Cuff’.
SO HOW ARE NEW ROSES BRED?
Fig. 1 - First, the mother plants are selected and once at the perfect stage of flowering, the petals are removed.
Fig. 2 - The anthers and pollen of the mother plant are also stripped, leaving only the stigma to stop natural pollination.
Fig. 3 - A different variety is then chosen to make the cross and the pollen is collected.
Fig. 4 - The stigma that is found in the middle of the flowers becomes sticky when it is ready to accept the pollen.
Fig. 5 - The pollen of one parent plant is then introduced to the stigma of the mother plant.
Fig. 6 - The pollinated flowers on the mother plants are then left to develop into hips and ripen.
Fig. 7 - By October the hips have ripened and are ready to be taken off and the seeds extracted.
Fig. 8 - Each variety is then labeled and put into a fridge until January to simulate controlled winter conditions.
Fig. 9 - During January and February the seeds are then sown in long beds within glasshouses.
Fig. 10 - By March the new varieties are beginning to germinate.
Fig. 11 - The new seedlings grow quickly and by mid-April they already look like small rose bushes.
Fig. 12 - From May the new seedlings are assessed and the best ones selected, whilst thousands are rejected if they don’t make the grade.
Fig. 13 - The short-listed new varieties are then budded into fields so that they can grow into mature plants and can be regularly reassessed.
Fig. 14 - The new seedlings are inspected for the next few years for their health, vigour and growth habits.
Fig. 15 - A few of the very best seedlings are chosen for release, often given their official launch at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Fig. 16 - ‘Sandringham’ launched at Chelsea by Rachel De Thame in 2016. Click here to see more from the launch of rosa ‘Sandringham’.
Breeding a new rose is a long and labour intensive process and even with years of experience and research, the results can often be surprising and unpredictable. When first looking at all the new seedlings growing within the glasshouses, it is hard to believe that within several years as few as three may be kept to go onto to be sold commercially. Before a new variety has been chosen for launch, it must first be tested in a number of situations, including being tested in pots and gardens, to monitor how it performs. Keeping a close eye on its disease resistance, flowering habit, preferred locations and general health and vigour. Once the final decision has been made to introduce a variety, the stock has to be increased ready to go on sale, the name has to be decided upon and a launch planned, before finally becoming available for the public to enjoy.