Creating a Rose Hybrid with Cross-Pollination

What You'll Need
Plastic baggies
Small plastic containers
Marking pen

Very often, dedicated gardeners who are also rose enthusiasts become so passionate about roses, they want to try creating their own rose hybrid with cross-pollination. Many rose lovers become eager to experience the accomplishment of putting their personal creative stamp on a rose hybrid they have developed themselves. 

Creating a Rose Hybrid with Cross-Pollination

A hybrid rose is created when you breed two different types of roses together to create a third type (the hybrid). There are two ways to create hybrid roses - by grafting two plants together, or by fertilizing the seed of one parent rose with the pollen of the other. The second method is called cross-pollination.

While the goal of cross-pollination is to develop a hybrid that will inherit the desired characteristics of its parent plants, such as color, scent and size, this can be difficult to accomplish at first, and will typically succeed only after a lot of patient trial and error. This is because the less desired characteristics of the parent roses often pass on more reliably than the features you'd like to combine. Before you begin the process of creating a hybrid rose using cross-pollination, understand that it takes patience, and even some luck. And, of course, careful selection and handling of the parent plants.

First Steps

The month of April in North America is the start of rose hypridizing season, and a good time for you to begin your own cross-pollination project. 

Look in your garden for roses whose characteristics you think would combine in a complementary way, and be sure to consider whether the potential individual parent roses appear fertile enough to be hybridized. Many common garden roses have been developed to be sterile, so it's obviously important to have roses in your garden that produce both pollen and fertile seeds.

Collecting Pollen and Seeds from Your Chosen Parent Roses

You will need a pollen parent rose and a seed parent rose. When selecting the rose to be the pollen parent, choose a bloom that is almost, but not completely, open. In the early morning or evening, cut the bloom from the rose bush leaving only a small portion of stem attached to the flower - what you can grasp between your fingers is enough. Then, gently remove all of the petals and sepals. This will expose the rose's stamen and pollen sacs, so the pollen can be released. Carefully place the bloom upside down in a container, leaving it alone for 24 hours - enough time for the rose to release its pollen. The pollen will resemble delicate yellow powder.

The seed parent plant must also be not quite in full bloom. With the seed parent, you also remove the petals, but leave the sepals. Also snip off the stamens, leaving the stigmas, then cover the top of your flower with a "cupped" piece of paper to protect it from bees. Leave the seed parent alone for 24 hours. The seed parent is ready for pollination by then and its stigmas wiill be coated with a sticky substance. 

To pollinate, simply take the pollen parent flower, holding it upside down, and gently swipe the seed parent's stigmas with it. You don't need to use all of the pollen the first time. Reapply twice a day for 2 days. If you have succeeded in cross pollinating your parent plants, the seed parent plant should develop rose hips (seed pods) that will be ready for "harvest" in about 4 months, when the hips should be cut and the seeds picked out from the hip shells. Keep the seeds dry and refrigerated until it's time for planting (December is the best time in most regions).