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This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Growing roses from seed can be challenging since the majority of seeds you collect often won’t germinate regardless of your efforts. Fortunately, most rose plants produce a large number of seeds inside their rose hips, so it usually isn’t necessary to achieve a high success rate. Keep in mind that the plants that grow may be different in appearance or other characteristics from the mother plant, especially if that plant is a hybrid of two varieties grafted together.
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.
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.
What Do Rose Seeds Look Like?
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.
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.