Starting Roses From Seed

Apparently, last week’s post generated some seedy questions, sow I thought I would respond to one question in particular.

“Hi, most brilliant gardener. Someone brought me a few HUGE rosehips (possibly Rosa rugosa) from his recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. They look ripe, and are starting to soften and shrivel a bit. What’s the best way to handle them — a) dry them over winter and plant the seeds in the spring, b) dry them and plant yet this Fall, or c) plant them as-is now, not drying them first?”

Before I proceed to expound on a topic with which I have no actual experience (starting roses from seed), a little side note if I may. Seed collecting from areas one travels to should be done with caution for a few reasons:

  1. The plant from which you are collecting seed may be from a different part of the country from where you reside (i.e. Pacific Northwest). The seeds in your hot little pocket have adapted to a different set of environmental conditions, putting your future progeny at risk of a visit from the Grim Reaper’s sickle.
  2. The seed, when it germinates, may not have the characteristics you liked in its parent. Sometimes the rose falls further from the shrub than you would like; it’s that whole recombination of DNA thing.
  3. There are ethical, legal and ecological concerns to consider.

Wellfield Botanic Gardens has a strict Collection policy, (discussed previously in this post: Garden Tag) as to how and what we purchase and from whom. Some invasive species we are now facing were spread by seed or whole plants being transported to a new location and escaping to wreak havoc. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora lay guidelines for governments, NGO’s and individuals to follow.

Now, having caused everyone to fall asleep while I was on my soap box, I shall now proceed to answer the question with my brilliant chatter. The first thing to note, is the fact you are dealing with a woody temperate species. Most seed of species with such a description will require a vernalization treatment. The last thing to note is this great article from SFGate, which will actually answer this question. Thanks for asking!

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager


One comment

  1. That should not cause anyone to fall asleep. It is very important, and something that should have been considered during the past few centuries, while so many different specie were moved all over the world and allowed to naturalize in some very bad ways. We have blue gum eucalyptus, Acacia dealbata, pampas grass, giant reed, water hyacinth and various broom infesting our region and competing with native vegetation because no one thought of the potential problems with bringing such specie here. We like to think that people are more responsible in regard to such matters now, but people still buy and sell plants on Ebay, all over the World!


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