Fragrance has always been a good selling point for roses, but longevity of the product used to be the bottleneck. However, as the popularity of fragrant roses is increasing all over the world, it becomes an increasingly more important topic on the breeder’s agenda. Also for Danish breeder Rosa Eskelund of Roses Forever. She already bred several award winning fragrant garden rose varieties and is now busy with creating a series of fragrant large flowered pot rose varieties.
The test line in the greenhouse in Denmark. "Every fifth week, I evaluate and select a line." The picture right: Test roses flowering
Demand for fragrant varieties
“Most people when they see or receive a wonderful rose they automatically put their nose in the roses and fragrance is expected, If there is no scent, receiver may in turn be a little disappointed”, explains Rosa. A fragrant variety would prevent this disappointment, however, at a later stage the receiver would usually be disappointed with a shorter shelf or vase life of the flower. Often, breeders had to make the decision between longevity or fragrance and for several years, longevity was top priority. However, as worldwide interest for fragrant varieties is on the rise, it becomes a more important characteristic to focus on. “I already see it with the garden roses in the Plant’n’Relax series, here it is the fragrant varieties that have become best sellers.”
Selection for fragrance in the fields of garden roses Plant’n’relax in Denmark.
The goal – big flowers, longevity and fragrance
Rosa has many years of experience in breeding garden, pot and cut roses. Adding fragrance has become an important characteristic that she would like to add to her pot roses varieties. Over the last five years, she has been working heavily on fragrant pot roses and she already has three fragrant varieties in the Roses Forever series, namely The Sunny Beach Forever with strong fragrance (yellow), the Greenland Roses Forever (white), and the Love Fragrant Forever (rosa/pink) which won the Public Prize at the IPM 2019, but now she also wants them in the large filled flowered series. “The goal is a series of large flowered pot roses , easy to grow in a short time in high quality and lovely colors - just like the Infinity series we have but then with the addition of a wonderful fragrance.”
IPM award winner Love Fragrance Forever.
The breeding and selection process
When breeding pot roses with fragrance, the main challenge is to keep the long lasting flowers, explains Rosa. “In the past, breeders often left this characteristic behind as it was simply too difficult to achieve both, longevity and fragrance, but it seems to be possible. It the test line of pot roses this year we see some nice compact ones which both has big long lasting flowers and a fragrance.”
So, how does the selection process work? Rosa explains: “I will make the first selection in the breeding greenhouse in Denmark. Here, all the long lasting ones with big flowers are chosen to a production test, which takes about 1 to 2 years. We often we start with 500 different codes and end up with 25 candidates. From here we deliver to the license growers on test agreements, because a new variety can perform well in our own facilities and maybe not so good or even better in another greenhouse. Also the climate is a important factor, therefore normally we send the best 25 ones to Norway (cold climate) to the Netherlands, to Malaysia (highland climate) to UK and China. Every grower has then the possibility to choice the best for their greenhouses and pot-sizes. During the trial period, I get information about the same varieties from different growers and that is very interesting for further selections. I must mention that all the new varieties for greenhouse production have been tested and selected in a short culture way for two years, and when I say short culture it is a cultivation technique that ensures that the entire plant has a max culture time of 10-11 weeks - this is interesting and lucrative for the growers finances.”
Some of the new ones codes which Rosa is currently testing in the pot rose line in greenhouse. "Flowers are all nice long lasting and some are very nice fragrant- now I will see if they perform well and compact in ‘normal’ production facilities."
Hopes are high
Rosa has several scented varieties in the test line of pot roses this year, so she is expecting to enter the market by spring 2022. And hopes are high. “In the garden roses series, the fragrant ones are the best sellers and I therefore have a very sure believe for these new fragrant ones as well.”