Magazine of Horticulture 4(9): 330-331 (Sept 1838)
Art. III. Observations on the Cultivation of hardy varieties of Roses from seeds.
By L. Boll, Florist, &c, New York.

In a late number of your Magazine, I observe an article, (p. 241,) by Mr. Buist, of Philadelphia, on the germination of the seeds of roses, which corresponds very nearly with my own experience upon the same subject. In your brief remarks, appended to the article, you express a desire that some of your correspondents would give you a detailed method of the germination and vegetation of the more robust and hardy kinds, Mr. Buist's experiments having been confined altogether to China and other tender roses. I will therefore endeavor to offer, in a few words, my own method of cultivation and treatment, which I have followed with complete success for several years.

When the seeds are perfectly ripe in the fall of the year, I pick them from the plants and put them in a flower-pot, and set them away in a dark place, where they remain. The seeds are taken off in the hips, and it is very important that these should be put where they cannot dry up, and where they can be preserved in a humid state. I leave the hips in this state for ten or fifteen days, when I begin to open them and pick out the seeds ready for sowing, having first prepared my compost, which is generally composed of one third heath soil, one third fresh loam, and one third road sand, or scrapings of the highway.

I generally sow the seeds in boxes, which I prefer to pots for most all kinds of seeds. When they are all planted, I take some lime-dust and strew slightly over them. Afterwards I finish the operation, by covering the whole with a layer of the compost first mentioned, which I press down firmly, and give a gentle watering with a water-pot through a fine rose.

I then remove the boxes of seeds into a dark place in the green-house, (underneath the stage, or where they will get as little light as possible,) or into a pit. Each box I cover with a pane or piece of glass, according to the size of the boxes, to protect the seeds from the rats, which I find very troublesome. I leave the whole in this state until the month of February, when I again remove the boxes to a warm place in the green-house, on the stage, as near the glass as possible, where they will have plenty of light and air.

Seeds of hardy roses can be forced as well as the tender kinds, viz. the Chinese, and the tea or the noisette: but I would observe, that there is considerable risk of losing a great portion of the seedlings, from the excessive humidity of the atmosphere at this season, which causes the young seedlings to be attacked by what is termed the mildew, (nieller.) When this occurs, the plants are separated very carefully before they have acquired a large size. Seeds may be also successfully sown in the open air; but I would observe that this method is scarcely ever employed, when the object is to procure strong plants, which will produce bloom the first year. All the seeds will not come up at the same time; and many of them often remain in the soil until the second year, before they vegetate.

It is probable that there are many persons, especially those who have not paid much observation to raising roses from seeds, who are not aware that the plants sport as much as any others, without excepting even the dahlia. I have often noticed, among my seedlings, plants with deep crimson or purple flowers, raised from seeds saved from a pure white rose. I think that the pimpernell class generally preserve their colors with more certainty than any other. I have also observed that the Isle de Bourbons sport less than either the Chinese, the tea, or the noisette varieties.

On this account I would recommend all amateurs of roses to sow as many seeds as possible of this superb and fragrant group. For all amateurs and connoisseurs of roses agree with me that this is, without contradiction, the finest and the most desirable of all for its delightful odor, its superb flowers, and its beautiful foliage, and for its hardiness in standing out in our most severe winters without injury.

The Isle de Bourbon roses hold, and will hold, a place above all other kinds. There are, at the present day, more than fifty varieties in the trade, all fine and beautiful. I have raised, the present year, two varieties from seeds planted the 28th of February, which flowered very well the 1st of June, and which were very fine. There is no reason why we should not produce a yellow Isle de Bourbon, for which I have labored long. I have not any doubt but that we shall produce, in a short time, as fine varieties in this country as in France. If our horticultural societies should encourage the taste for roses and the production of seedlings, it would be the means of adding many varieties to our collections.

I have thus noted down my method of cultivation of hardy roses from the seed. If my experience upon the subject has afforded any thing new, I shall feel amply repaid in communicating to you these few hints, for the information of all who feel an interest in gardening. Yours, &c. L. Boll. New York, August, 1838.

The above article, by Mr. Boll, who is, probably, one of the best cultivators of roses in the country, as all may witness who have inspected his nursery, we trust will awaken the attention of amateurs and others to the interesting subject of raising new varieties of roses from seed. It has been generally believed, that two years were required for the seeds of roses to vegetate, and that two more were necessary to enable the plant to arrive at a flowering state; and such a prevalent opinion has prevented many amateurs and gardeners, who are not possessed with a good share of patience, from entering into the production of seedling roses. The facility of raising seedlings, as communicated by Mr. Boll, will account for the rapidity with which the French nurserymen raise new varieties, hundreds of which are added to the catalogues every year, although not half, or even quarter, of them are really fine and worth possessing. Indeed, few plants, unless we except annuals, can be brought into flower much sooner than roses.

Many of our amateur gentlemen in gardening have commenced the production of seedling camellias in good earnest, though requiring at least four, and, in a majority of cases, six or seven years' growth, before they are strong enough to produce a good specimen bloom. We hope the production of new varieties of roses will be commenced with the same zeal, and that we shall be no longer dependant on France for an annual supply of new varieties wherewith to decorate our gardens. Rose seeds may be procured in ten times the quantity, and with much greater facility than camellia seed, and a few boxes, which would take up but little room in any green-house, would hold hundreds of plants. A regular sowing every year would soon produce an abundance of plants, and undoubtedly, with proper care and attention in saving the seeds, many very fine and novel varieties. We repeat, that we hope the article of Mr. Boll will awaken a zeal among our amateurs and gardeners to produce seedling roses.—Ed.