Rose bud seeds

How to Collect and Save Rose Seeds for Planting

There is something truly intoxicating about a bountiful rose garden.

While it might seem like a costly endeavor to fill your yard with roses, there is actually an easy, and practically free, way to take one bush and turn it into many.

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Read on to learn how to collect and save the seeds you need to grow new ones!

What You’ll Learn

Each season, rose bushes form buds which open into fragrant blooms that are pollinated by butterflies, bees, and wasps.

Once the flowers begin to die back, you will notice green ovaries begin to swell at the base of the blooms.

These fleshy pods, known as rose hips, will slowly ripen to red, orange, or yellow. The seeds are contained within these pods.

In addition, the hips are edible and make a delicious nutrient-rich tea. You can learn all about the health benefits here.

Deadhead with Care

It is worth noting that there are many hybridized cultivars out there, and not all plants create hips or produce viable offspring.

You may not know before you try whether the particular cultivar you have will produce usable seed, but since collecting them is so easy, I say there isn’t much harm in giving it a shot.

One reason that some blooms may not form hips is because flowers are removed before pollination can happen. It is important to leave old blooms to fall off on their own to give the hips a chance to develop.

At the same time, hip formation requires energy, and if too many are allowed to form on each plant, it could become overburdened, possibly resulting in underdeveloped seeds.

Therefore, deadheading some but not all of the blooms can create fewer but stronger hips that are more likely to produce viable seeds. You can read all about how to do this in our guide.

Cut no more than two thirds of the flowers off the plant, and also remove any brown or shriveled pods.

Harvest the Ripe Hips

Collect the well ripened hips in late summer or fall, a few months after they begin to form, and once they have fully turned from green to red, orange, or yellow and have softened up a bit.

Some gardeners suggest picking them right after the first light frost of fall, but before a hard frost has a chance to send the plant into dormancy. Either way, just be sure they are completely ripe.

Harvesting is easy, but if you are growing varieties with thorns, don’t forget to wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid getting pricked!

When you are ready, with gloves donned and basket in hand, simply pluck the hips off of the plant with your fingers.

If you are collecting from more than one cultivar, separating them into different containers may be helpful to note the parent plants. But unless you are breeding them in a controlled environment, don’t expect an exact replica to grow after you plant the seeds.

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Bees and other pollinators may transport pollen from one plant to another, and it is impossible to know exactly where the pollen is winding up. Additionally, seeds collected from hybrid varieties may not breed true.

In any case, be prepared to propagate something different than what you started with!

Remove and Clean the Seeds

After harvesting, carefully cut or pry the hips open with a knife or your fingers, and remove the contents within. If the pods are ripe, they should come apart pretty easily.

Remove as much of the pulp and other fibrous material as you can by hand, and then use a strainer to rinse off any leftover chaff from the seeds under cool running water.

Another method is to put the hips in a glass of water and mash them up a bit with a spoon. Leave them to soak for a day or two, and then pull out the loose pulp by hand. Using a strainer, rinse off the remaining debris.

With either of these methods, after you’re done, drop the cleaned seeds in a glass of water to test for viability. Those that float to the top are less likely to germinate and should be discarded.

Spread the remainder on a coffee filter or paper towel and set in a dark, cool location to dry. Leave them for a week or two until they are completely dry to eliminate the risk of spoilage.

Store in a labeled plastic bag in the refrigerator or any dark cool place until you are ready to use them.

Now you are ready to try your hand at growing new plants. These seeds can be tricky to get to germinate, but is t is a rewarding project. You can learn more about propagating roses from seed in our guide.

Make Your Bed of Roses

If you want to multiply a rose garden cheaply and are up for a bit of a surprise, saving seeds is without a doubt the way to go!

After all, no matter what you end up with, the flowers are sure to be aromatic and delightful.

Have you ever saved your own rose seeds? Tell us how it went in the comments below!

Looking to take your rose gardening skills to the next level? These articles are a great place to start:

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Collecting Rose Seeds – How To Get Rose Seeds From A Rose Bush

For harvesting rose seeds, professional rose breeders or hybridizers control what pollen they want used to pollinate a specific rose bloom. By controlling the pollen used in the pollination process, they will know exactly who the parents of a new rose bush are. Out in our gardens we typically have no real clue as to whom both parents are since the bees or wasps do most of the pollinating for us. In some cases, the rose may pollinate itself. When we know how to get seeds from a rose, we can then grow the rose seed and enjoy the delightful surprise that Mother Nature has created for us.

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What Do Rose Seeds Look Like?

Once a rose bush has bloomed and the bloom visited by one of natures’ pollinators, or perhaps even the gardener attempting his or her own controlled breeding program, the area directly at the base of the rose bloom, called the ovary, will swell as the ovule (where the seeds are formed) begins the formation of the rose seeds. This area is referred to as the rose hip, also known as the fruit of the rose. The rose hips are where the rose seeds are contained.

Not all blooms will form rose hips and many are likely deadheaded before the rose hips can truly form up. Not doing any deadheading of the old rose blooms will allow the rose hips to form, which can then be harvested either to use the seeds inside to grow a new rose bush of your own or are used by some to make various delights, such as rose hip jelly.

Those that are harvested to grow a new rose bush have now begun the process known as rose propagation from seed.

How to Clean and Seed Rose Hips

The rose hips are typically collected in late summer or fall once they have ripened. Some of the rose hips turn red, yellow, or orange to help tell us when they have ripened. Be sure to place the rose hips in well marked, separate containers when harvesting them so it is easy to tell which rose they came from. Knowing which rose bush the rose hips and rose seeds came from can be very important when the new rose seedlings come forth so that you know the variety of the parent rose. Once all of the rose hips have been harvested, it is time to process the seeds in them.

Cut each rose hip open carefully with a knife and dig out the seeds, again placing them in containers with the name of the rose bush they came from. Once the seeds have all been removed from the rose hips, rinse the seeds off to remove any of the pulp from the rose hips still on them.

With that, you are done harvesting rose seeds. You can store your rose bush seeds in a cool, dry place for a short period of time or start right away with preparing the seeds and growing roses from seed.

Rose Bush Seeds – How To Grow Roses From Seeds

One way to grow roses is from the seeds they produce. Propagating roses from seed takes a little time but is easy to do. Let’s take a look at what it takes to start growing roses from seed.

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Starting Rose Seeds

Before growing roses from seed, the rose seeds need to go through a period of cold moist storage called “stratification” before they will sprout.

Plant the rose bush seeds approximately ¼ inch (6 mm.) deep in a seed planting mix in seedling trays or your own planting trays. The trays need not be more than 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm.) deep for this use. When planting rose seeds from various rose bush hips, I use a separate tray for each different group of seeds and label the trays with that rose bush’s name and planting date.

The planting mix should be very moist but not soaking wet. Seal each tray or container in a plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 weeks.

Planting Roses from Seeds

The next step in 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 degrees 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.

Once in the proper warm environment, the rose bush seeds should start to sprout. The rose bush seeds will usually continue to sprout over the course of two to three weeks, but probably only 20 to 30 percent of the rose seeds planted will actually sprout.

Once the rose seeds sprout, carefully transplant the rose seedlings into other pots. It is extremely important not to touch the roots during this process! A spoon may be used for this seedling transfer phase to help keep from touching the roots.

Feed the seedlings with half-strength fertilizer and be sure they have plenty of light once they start to grow. The use of a grow light system works very well for this phase of the rose propagation process.

The use of a fungicide on the growing rose seeds will help keep fungal diseases from attacking the rose seedlings at this vulnerable time.

Do not overwater the rose seedlings; overwatering is a major killer of seedlings.

Provide a lot of light as well as good air circulation to the rose seedlings to avoid disease and pests. If disease does set in on some of them, it is probably best to eliminate them and keep only the hardiest of the rose seedlings.

The time it takes for the new roses to actually flower can vary greatly so be patient with your new rose babies. Growing roses from seed can take some time, but you will be rewarded for your efforts.