As soon as the rose seeds have been removed from the rose hips, rinse the seeds in a solution of purified water (any bottled water will do) with 5% bleach. This would be about two teaspoons of bleach per cup of water. Rinse the rose seeds with plain bottled water in a strainer, then soak the seeds in straight 3% peroxide for 24 hours. CAUTION: Do not mix bleach with peroxide because there could be a chemical reaction.
Select two roses that you want to cross-pollenate. The blooms should not be too tight, perhaps about one-half to 3/4 open. Carefully peel off all the petals. The rose stamens inside should look golden yellow and fresh. With sterile tweezers or cuticle scissors, carefully remove all the stamens at the base of the rose hip, so you do not damage the pollen sacs (anthers). Place the rose stamens into separate, clean film canisters, and place the canisters in a dry place, but not in direct sunlight.
Chilling your seeds in a refrigerator for about six to ten weeks encourages them to germinate faster once planted. However, you must take care to avoid keeping them cold for long as they can germinate while still in the refrigerator. Place your seeds on a paper towel before moistening them. Use half purified water and half peroxide to prevent the growth of mould. You can then place them in a plastic zippered bag, mark the date and variety before placing in a refrigerator set at 1 to 3 degrees C. The paper towel should remain moist for the entire period. You can check occasionally to see if it needs remoistening. Make sure you don’t freeze the towel.
Prepare a pot. Fill the small pot with potting soil. For the best results, replace a quarter of the soil with perlite, peat moss, or vermiculite, or a combination thereof. This will increase air flow and draining, giving your cutting a better opportunity to root. If the soil is dry, water it and allow the excess water to drain out, so that the soil is evenly moist.
Most softwood rose cuttings will root within 10 to 14 days.1 To test their progress, tug very gently on the cuttings. You'll feel a slight resistance as the new roots form and grow into the soil. A gentle fish- or kelp-based fertilizer during this time provides beneficial nutrients. Once roots are established and plants show strong new growth, you can transplant your new roses to more permanent garden homes.
Selecting a disease-resistant rose is the single most effective way to avoid problems and the need for chemicals. You might start by considering some of the old rose varieties, many of which have natural disease resistance. You can also look to many of the modern roses, which are now being bred for improved disease resistance. Hybrid teas are notoriously disease-prone, and seem to lure every insect pest from miles around. They can be difficult to grow without an arsenal of chemical dusts and sprays.
Although miniature roses have always been grown on their own roots since the 1950's when they were first introduced, Ralph Moore of Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, CA, near Fresno, offered many of the larger roses on own-root along with his vast selection of minis. His Playgirl floribunda has always been sold by Ralph as own-root cuttings in 4-inch pots, as well as a good assortment of other own-root floribundas and old garden roses. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore is now deceased and his nursery is closed.
Fertilizer: Roses are heavy feeders, and will benefit from a steady supply of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You can provide these nutrients with either liquid or granular fertilizers, at a ratio of approximately 5-8-5. In most cases, regular applications of compost, rotted manure, fish emulsion and seaweed extracts will provide roses with all the nutrients they need. These organic amendments also help to moderate pH imbalances and stimulate beneficial soil life. Other organic amendments favored by rose growers include greensand, black rock phosphate and alfalfa meal.
When you transplant your roses, be sure to dig a much bigger hole than you think you need (for most types, the planting hole should be about 15 to 18 inches wide), and add plenty of organic matter such as compost or aged manure. This will feed your plant in the years ahead. Some old-timers recommend placing a 4-inch square of gypsum wallboard and a 16-penny nail in the hole to provide calcium and iron, both appreciated by roses.
Rose seeds need to go through stratification (an artificial cold spell) for 10 to 12 weeks before they will sprout. This, combined with a germination success rate of 20-30% makes propagation by seed an unattractive prospect. on by seed an unattractive prospect. If you still want to try it, find a good source of information that will guide you through the process.
Once you have had several weeks of below-freezing temperatures, cover the base of the rose with 12 inches of soil or mulch, and then cover the canes with straw, leaves, pine boughs or even foam insulation. Climbing roses can be wrapped right on their supports, or you can lay them on the ground and cover the canes with straw or brush. In severely cold climates, hybrid teas are sometimes partially dug up, laid down onto the soil, and the entire plant is then covered with more soil or mulch.
The next step how to grow roses from seed is to sprout the rose seeds. After having gone through their “stratification” time, take the containers out of the refrigerator and into a warm environment of around 70 F. (21 C.). I do my best to time this for early spring when the seedlings would normally be coming out of their cold cycle (stratification) outside and starting to sprout.
Pests and diseases: Prevention is the best way to avoid pest and disease problems. Start with disease-resistant varieties, keep plants in healthy condition (well fertilized and well watered), maintain good air circulation, keep foliage dry, and remove any diseased foliage or spent flowers. For Japanese beetle grubs, use beneficial nematodes or Milky Spore (Bacillus popilliae). Rose Rx is effective against scale, spidermites and aphids. For more information, see the Pest and Disease Finder.