The Rose-Amateur's Guide (1863)
Thomas Rivers

PART III.

GENERAL CULTURE AND PROPAGATION OF ROSES.
TREATMENT OF THE SEED, SOWING, &c.

THE HIPS of all the varieties of roses will in general be fully ripe by the beginning of November; they should then be gathered and kept entire, in a flower-pot filled with dry sand, carefully guarded from mice; in February, or by the first week in March, they must be broken to pieces with the fingers, and sown in flower-pots, such as are generally used for sowing seeds in, called 'seed-pans,' but for rose seeds they should not be too shallow; nine inches in depth will be enough; these should be nearly, but not quite, filled with a rich compost of rotten manure and sandy loam or peat; the seeds may be covered, to the depth of about half an inch, with the same compost; a piece of kiln wire must then be placed over the pot, fitting closely at the rim, so as to prevent the ingress, of mice, which are passionately fond of rose seeds; there must be space enough between the wire and the mould for the young plants to come up; half an inch will probably be found enough; the pots of seed must never be placed under glass, but kept constantly in the open air, in a full sunny exposure, as the wire will shade the mould, and prevent its drying. Water should be given occasionally in dry weather; the young plants will perhaps make their appearance in April or May, but very often the seed will not vegetate till the second spring. When they have made their 'rough leaves,' that is, when they have three or four leaves, exclusive of their seed leaves, they must be carefully raised with the point of a narrow pruning-knife, potted into small pots, and placed in the shade: if the weather be very hot and dry, they may be covered with a hand-glass for a few days. They may remain in those pots a month, and then be planted out into a rich border; by the end of August those that are robust growers will have made shoots long enough to take buds from. Those that have done so may be cut down, and one or two strong stocks budded with each; these will, the following summer, make vigorous shoots, and the summer following, if left unpruned, to a certainty they will produce flowers. This is the only method to insure seedling roses flowering the third year: many will do so that are not budded; but very often the superior varieties are shy bloomers on their own roots, till age and careful culture give them strength.

* It requires some watchfulness to do this at the proper time: if too soon, the petals will be injured in forcing them open: and in hot weather in July, if delayed only an hour or two, the anthers will be found to have shed their pollen. To ascertain precisely when the pollen is in a fit state for transmission, a few of the anthers should be gently pressed with the finger and thumb; if the yellow dust adheres to them the operation may be performed; it requires close examination and some practice to know when the flower to be operated upon is in a fit state to receive the pollen; as a general rule, the flowers ought to be in the same state of expansion, or, in other words, about the same age. It is only in cases where it is wished for the qualities of a particular rose to predominate that the removal of the anthem of the rose to be fertilised is necessary: thus, if a yellow climbing rose is desired by the union of the Yellow Briar with the Ayrshire, every anther should be removed from the latter, so that it is fertilised solely with the pollen of the former. In some cases, where it is desirable to have the qualities of both parents in an equal degree, the removal of the anthers need not take place; thus, I have found by removing them from the Luxembourg Moss, and fertilising that rose with a dark variety of Rosa Gallica, that the features of the Moss Rose are totally lost in its offspring, and they become nearly pure varieties of Rosa Gallica; but if the anthers of the Moss Rose are left untouched, and it is fertilised with Rosa Gallica, interesting hybrids are the result, more or less mossy; this seems to make superfetation very probable; yet Dr. Lindley, in 'Theory of Horticulture,' page 332, 'thinks it is not very likely to occur.'

It may be mentioned here, as treatment applicable to all seed-bearing roses, that when it is desirable the qualities of a favourite rose should preponderate, the petals of the flower to be fertilised must be opened gently with the fingers;* a flower that would expand in the morning should be opened the afternoon or evening previous, and the anthers all removed with a pair of pointed scissors; the following morning when this flower is fully expanded it must be fertilised with a flower of some variety, of which it is desired to have seedlings partaking largely of its qualities. To exemplify this we will suppose that a climbing Moss Rose with red or crimson flowers is wished for: the flowers of the Blush Ayrshire, which bears seed abundantly, may be selected, and before expansion the anthers removed; the following morning, or as soon after the operation as these flowers open, they should be fertilised with those of the Luxembourg Moss; if the operation succeed, seed will be procured, from which the probability is that a climbing rose will be produced with the habit and flowers of the Moss Rose, or at least an approximation to them; and as these hybrids often bear seed freely, by repeating the process with them, the at-present apparent remote chance of getting a climbing Moss Rose may be brought very near.

* It is more than probable that if the flowers of this rose were fertilised with those of the single Moss Rose, they would produce seed from which some curious hybrid Moss Roses might be expected.

I mention the union of the Moss and Ayrshire Roses by way of illustration, and merely to point out to the amateur how extensive and how interesting a field of operations is open in this way. I ought to give a fact that has occurred in my own experience, which will tell better with the sceptical than a thousand anticipations. About four years since, in a pan of seedling Moss Roses, was one with a most peculiar habit, even when very young; this has since proved a hybrid rose, partaking much more of the Scotch Rose than of any other, and till the plant arrived at full growth I thought it a Scotch Rose, the seed of which had by accident been mixed with that of the Moss Rose, although I had taken extreme care: to my surprise it has since proved a perfect hybrid, having the sepals and the fruit of the Provence Rose, with the spiny and dwarf habit of the Scotch Rose; it bears abundance of hips, which are all abortive.* The difference in the fruit of the Moss and Provence Roses and that of the Scotch is very remarkable, and this it was which drew my particular attention to the plant in question; it was raised from the same seed, and in the same seed-pan, as the Single Crimson Moss Rose: as this strange hybrid came from a Moss Rose accidentally fertilised, we may expect that art will do much more for us.

The following extract from the 'Botanical Register' for January 1840 will, I think, go to prove that these expectations are not without foundation:—

'My principal reason for publishing a figure of this very remarkable plant, Fuchsia Standishii, is because it is a mule between Fuchsia fulgens and Fuchsia globosa, two plants as dissimilar as possible in the same genus. The former, indeed, figured in this work for the year 1838, tab. 1, differs in so many respects from the common species of the genus, especially in having an herbaceous stem and tuberous roots, that it has been supposed impossible that it should be a Fuchsia at all. It now, however, appears, from the fact of its crossing freely with the common Fuchsias, that it produces hybrids, and really does belong to the genus. These hybrids are completely intermediate between the two parents: in this case having the leaves, flowers, and habit of their mother, Fuchsia globosa, with the hairiness and tenderness of foliage of their father, some of his colouring, and much of his herbaceous character. It is by no means necessary to take Fuchsia globosa for the female parent, as Fuchsia fulgens is found to intermix readily with many other species. That which is now figured is the handsomest I have seen. It was raised by Mr. John Standish, nurseryman, Bagshot, who sent me specimens last July, together with flowers of several others of inferior appearance. He tells me that it is an exceedingly free bloomer, with a stiff erect habit; and I can state, from my personal knowledge, that the plant is very handsome.'

Now this is from Dr. Lindley, who may be quoted as a weighty authority; and this plant is a hybrid between two, one of which, I believe, it was seriously contemplated to place out of the genus Fuchsia, so dissimilar did it appear to any known species of that genus. After this we may hope for a Mossy Bourbon Rose, and a Yellow Ayrshire.


CybeRose note: The word 'superfetation' (also spelled 'superfoetation') was used in two senses in the 19th century. In one sense, it meant that one seed might be influenced by two different fathers; in the second, it meant that different seeds in a fruit might have different fathers.

If Rivers raised a Spinosissima-like seedling from seed of the same fruit that gave the Single Crimson Moss, the second sense of superfetation is indicated. However, the fact that the 'Rouge de Luxembourg' gave "hybrid" seedlings only when it was left with its own anthers, in addition to being pollinated by a Gallica, suggests that 'Rouge de Luxembourg' was itself a hybrid of a Moss and a Gallica. Selfing would account for the mossy seedlings, not a combined influence of the two pollen parents.