1985 American Rose Annual
Striped Roses Are Here!
Ralph S. Moore

Sequoia Nursery

Ralph Moore began growing roses in high school. He started Sequoia Nursery in 1937 and began specializing in miniatures in 1957. He has originated over 175 new varieties of roses, mostly miniatures, and had been granted over 100 U.S. Plant Patents. He is the recipient of many horticultural awards and the author of several papers, articles and books. Ralph has been a member of the American Rose Society since 1929.

For a long time, in fact ever since I was a small child, rainbows have fascinated me. I have loved the soft, subtle blending of colors in rainbows. On the other extreme, the bold bright colors, the sharp, distinct delineation of colors, have excited me. They continue to fascinate and excite me.

So, is it any wonder that my fancy has been captured by variegated plants and striped roses? Among the older roses with stripes and/or unusual color patterns may be counted such roses as Vick's Caprice, Roger Lambelin, Rainbow (a sport of Papa Gontier), Rosa Mundi, York and Lancaster, and others. More recently there were Careless Love (a striped sport of Red Radiance). Candy Stripe (a sport of Pink Peace), plus several others including Banner (a sport of Charlotte Armstrong), Radio (a sport of Condessa de Sastago), and Harry Wheatcroft [a.k.a. Caribia] (a sport of Picadilly). There were numerous striped (or variegated) forms of the old Gallica roses.

Where did these striped roses come from? How did they originate? The origins of many are lost; they just happened. Others of more recent origin were discovered as sports or mutations of known garden or greenhouse varieties. There is a constant tendency of varieties originating as bud sports to revert (or return) to the original varieties from which they sported. Sometimes an original sport may sport again, differing from the first sport in form or color, but the constant urge to go back to the original form is always there. The genetic makeup of such varieties is unstable.

On the other hand, many of the old striped or variegated roses, including all (or nearly all) the striped gallicas, are striped because of certain rose viruses. This should not seem unusual, as the striped tulips and nearly all the striped camellias are also caused by virus. [CybeRose note: William Herbert found that the earliest ripening seeds of variegated camellias were more inclined to give plants with white or particolored flowers than later ripening seeds.] Evidence of the viral origin of the old gallicas and certain other striped roses came about when some of these varieties were given heat treatment to eliminate certain other suspected viruses. Young plants were grown in a changer under high intensity fluorescent lights and kept at 100 degrees fahrenheit for several weeks to rid the plants of any viral disease. After such treatment, the virus-free plants had lost their stripes! Thus the striping was not an inheritable genetic trait. And the other striped roses, originating as bud sports, also did not pass on this characteristic to the offspring.

[CybeRose note: Heat treatment could also disrupt the "position effect" which may be responsible for many striped varieties. This effect is inherited, but not simply. If there is really a "striping virus", it should be transmissable to other varieties by grafting —which does not seem to be the case.]

This same or similar heat treatment has been used on numerous fruit tree and grape varieties to clean up one or more kinds of virus which may infect any given variety. California nurserymen, including commercial rose growers, now have available sources of virus-free fruit and rose varieties, including rose understock.

In practise today, the heat chamber method may be used to clean varieties of virus, or the now popular tissue culture (micro propagation) method may be employed. The basic idea is to get virus-free tissue—a few buds, cuttings or explants from which to propagate a whole new line of virus-free plants.

Where did the new modern striped roses come from? Some years ago, as an aside from our usual line of crosses, we used some pollen from a striped hybrid perpetual of unknown ancestry. From this cross (Little Darling x Ferdinand Pichard) came 29 seedlings—all climbers or semi-climbers except two. Of these 29 plants, nine showed some degree of striping—red and white or pink and white. Some had only a few stripes; others were well-striped. Most plants were only moderately vigorous. Some gave spring bloom only. Foliage was fair to sparse with a tendency to mildew. Of the lot, two were finally saved to continue breeding. One was a bush with 3 to 3.5 inch semi-double, very fragrant flowers that were well-striped. This bush, not overly vigorous, we identified as No. 26 stripe.

The other plant we saved was a fairly vigorous climber with three-inch double flowers that were red and white striped. The buds were urn-shaped, resembling the seed parent, Little Darling, in form. This plant, in spite of its good bud and flower form and repeat bloom, took to mildew if any was around.

We tried many different crosses using pollen of this selection, which we identified as No. 14 stripe. Among the combinations tried were Queen Elizabeth x No. 14 stripe, Rumba x No. 14 stripe, Fairy Moss x No. 14 stripe, Little Darling x No. 14 stripe and others. In all, we planted a total of several hundred seed from these crosses. Most of the flower colors were in the range of light pink to rose pink—without stripes! One weak plant, Fairy Mose x No. 14 stripe, showed only a few white stripes on an insipid light pink base.

But the one (and only) successful cross to produce a striped flower was a small lot of about 50 seeds from Little Chief (miniature) x No. 14 stripe. When I first saw the flower on the tiny plant (the only seedling which came striped!) I knew I had something. As soon as possible, a few cuttings were made. These were followed by more cuttings so that within a year we had over 3000 plants. Thus the miniature Stars 'N' Stripes was born—just in time to celebrate the bicentennial of the USA in 1976.

Fortunately, Stars 'N' Stripes is a good grower and quite easy to propagate. In growth habit, it can develop into a bushy plant 15 to 18 inches tall with some specimens being observed as semi-climbing to climbing up to five feet tall. I personally have seen it growing in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, England and South Africa. So, our little Stars 'N' Stripes seems to be at home over a wide area and in varied growing conditions.

We have observed seed hips, on occasion, on mature plants of Stars 'N' Stripes but have never had them germinate. Pollen is scarce or lacking. However, down in New Zealand, Sam McGredy has been able to find and use pollen and now has several seedlings descended from Stars 'N' Stripes.

The cross of Fairy Moss x No. 26 stripe produced several seedlings, but only one plant bore striped flowers. The slender buds opened into seven to eight petaled, 1.5 inch, lightly mossed flowers, which were freely produced on a low growing plant. There were two major faults: (1) the plants were weak and difficult to keep going and (2) of the seven to eight deep pink to light red petals, only one or two petals on each flower showed stripes. But we did find that when pollen was used on other varieties (miniature and otherwise) we got a number of striped seedlings in the offspring. Thus, nearly all of today's "bred to order" striped roses have come out of seedling No. 26 stripe and its offspring through our striped miniature seedlings No. 33 stripe (Fairy Moss x No. 26 stripe).

So, what were the next steps to put a varied range of striped roses on vigorous, free-flowering, well-foliaged plants? To begin with, we used pollen of our No. 33 stripe on many different roses. Our seed parents have ranged from Queen Elizabeth to kinds such as Baccara, Little Darling, Pinocchio, Dortmund, Golden Glow (Brownell), Golden Angel, etc., plus numerous selected seedlings of different types and flower size. The results to date (in addition to Stars 'N' Stripes have been such unusual miniatures as Crazy Quilt (Little Darling x No. 33 stripe), Strawberry Swirl [Little Darling x (Fairy Moss x No. 33 stripe)], Strange Music (Little Darling x No. 33 stripe), and Earthquake (Var: MORquake) [Golden Angel x (Dortmund x No. 33 stripe)].

These are only the varieties we have already introduced. Our breeding now has carried our crossing of striped roses into the fourth and fifth generations. Some of our present new seedlings now only have stripes, but some are mossed. We even have one selection which grows much like a petunia plant (low and spreading) with two-inch single (five-petaled) petunia-like flowers with stripes.

Several of our new striped selections are not in trials. We also have under observation, red and white, red and pink, pink and white, red and yellow—even some with orange, pink and white combinations. These range from low, bushy plants to others growing from 12 inches high to climbers. Flowers range in size from one inch up to four inches in all degrees of doubleness. We have some moss varieties with stripes. These range from light moss to a new pink and white flowered one with heavy fragrant moss.

In addition to these already mentioned, I would add some other striped selections from our breeding, which will soon be available, possibly the best of the lot being a red and white striped miniature which was in the AARS trials. We thought we had a winner and still do. It is now in the ARS trials. The plant and all-around performance of this selection is outstanding. It is now being tried as a forcing pot rose. Also in trials is an exciting orange and white striped miniature. And in the climbers we have a large-flowered selection (3 to 3.5 inch) with red and yellow stripes. Since this blooms only in the spring with no repeat, it probably will not be released but may have value for breeding. We have seed hips on it now.

So far, the red and yellow combination has been the most difficult to achieve. But now the pioneer work has been done. We have made a breakthrough. Only time and the limits of our imaginations will determine what can be done in breeding striped roses of all types, sizes and other combinations. We look for new worlds to conquer. Where do we go next?

Author's Footnote: Regarding the inheritance of stripes, it has been determined that plant viruses are unlikely to be passed on through the pollen but can be passed on by the mother (seed parent) in the placental tissue. In our breeding of stripes, we have used the male (pollen) parent as our source of this characteristic. Thus it appears we have a genetic source of striping rather than a viral-caused striping.