Peter Cox, Pheno Geno Roses:

New garden rose breeder launches first varieties

There is a new player in the garden rose breeding industry and this company is called Pheno Geno Roses. After eight years of breeding, this Serbian-Dutch company is ready to put their first own 'special bred' garden roses on the market. "Winter hardy roses, scented roses and edible roses are all part of our assortment", says Peter Cox, the Dutch owner of the company.

Peter Cox at the FlowersExpo in Moscow, Russia.

From growing to breeding
Pheno Geno Roses is a daughter company of garden rose nursery Roath in the Netherlands. This company has been cultivating roses for over 60 years and one of their main export countries is Russia. "Russia is a large market for garden roses and therefore also for us. However, we saw that our roses did not meet the requirements of the Russians. Ours could not stand the extreme cold. And this is how we came up with the idea of starting breeding roses", says Cox. Currently, Pheno Geno has an office in the Netherlands where they do research and cross varieties and an office in Serbia that crosses and tests the varieties. Currently 14 people are working in the breeding department.

Winterjuwel Collection.

Breeding technique
Pheno Geno uses modern techniques, where they identify the genes of the garden rose. "In order to breed the winter hardy garden rose varieties, Wageningen UR Plantbreeding developed an array of 70,000 SNP markers. Each marker stands for a characteristic of the roses. This made it possible for our company to develop a collection of garden roses that can stand minus 35 degrees Celsius. We found this trait in some varieties from Canada. So for developing this specific variety, we were looking for the winter hardy characteristic. We found 2 interesting gens by using this marker set, that makes roses very stress resistant against cold temperatures. Then, we crossed these varieties with European garden roses and bred our own garden roses; called the Winterjuwel Collection. These roses are vigorous but with an elegant appearance, have repeat blooming, are very healthy and can withstand even the harshest winter conditions", says Cox.

Katarina Frayla and Natalija Frayla

Scented roses

Besides that, Pheno Geno also breeds varieties in the traditional manner. They have bred their own scented garden rose line. "Scent is an important feature of a garden rose. Therefore, we bred our own line; the Fragrant Frayla Collection." This collection was launched recently.

Edible roses
For two years now, Pheno Geno has been working on breeding edible garden rose varieties."We now have 320 varieties and from each variety, we planted 20 plants in a greenhouse in the Netherlands", says Cox. The varieties have been tested by consumer panels and Michelin star chefs. "In the eyes of the consumers, eating roses is weird. The chefs, however, are eager to garnish their plates with roses." And on top of that, rose petals on your plate does not only looks beautiful, it also seem to be healthy. "Our varieties are tested and it has been showed that our edible roses contain ten times more oxidants compared to blueberries and are a source of vitamin C." Currently some companies are interested in making yoghurt with their edible garden rose.

Field with organic production of food with Katarina Frayla®

Future projects
For the future, Pheno Geno has many projects in the pipeline. "We are now growing garden roses biologically in Serbia and cooperating with several rose growers to cultivate them biologically too." According to Cox, if this project succeeds, it will be beneficial for other garden rose and cut rose growers too. Another project that will start soon is their heat and drought project. "We want to breed garden roses that can stand extreme heat and drought and we will be testing them in Turkey, Serbia, Thailand and the Netherlands."

For more information
Pheno Geno Roses
Peter Cox

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