High Desert Roses

Across the globe, species of roses have originated in high deserts. In New Mexico and Utah, our native rose is Rosa Woodsii. It grows at 7,700 to 10,000 feet above sea level, has small pink flowers, many thorns, and can grow to eight feet. It’s considered a species rose meaning it is an original variety from which others can be bred on its native root stock.

Roses which are bred, or hybridized, on native roots specific for an area have increased vigor, more blooms, and live longer. They also only require moderate water in spring and summer and less in fall and winter.

Hybridization is done by taking pollen from one species and placing it on the female part of the other, making sure that none of the pollen of the host species also self-pollinates. When the small red or orange rose hips (seed pods) develop in the fall on the host plant, their seeds ideally will have the desired characteristics of the donor rose but the root vigor of the host. However, it may take thousands of tries to get the desired pure new rose. An example is the Don Juan rose which only reached market as a cultivated rose after 10 year of testing. Cultivated roses are patented and there are stiff fines for using its seeds or cuttings to breed a new rose.

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