Hybrid species roses

Judith Adam

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'Geranium', a hybrid species rose. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
'Geranium', a hybrid species rose. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
‘Geranium’, a hybrid species rose. (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)

‘Geranium’ (Zone 4), a hybrid of Rosa moyesii, has a single flower with deepest red petals and a centre of generous golden stamens. The petal colour can be influenced by climate, and in my garden ‘Geranium’ is dark pink.

Hybrids of species roses have a short breeding history when compared to the multi-generations of modern hybrids. Rosa moyesii has been crossed with a different species or classification to produce ‘Geranium’, and the plant retains some of its original wild characteristics. It grows eight by six feet (2.5 by 1.8 m) with arching, thorny canes, and needs shaping every third year. The flowers are produced on old wood, so I need to be mindful of that when trimming the long canes, removing only three-year-old wood.

‘Geranium’ has retained the disease and insect resistance of its species parentage. It blooms heavily once in early summer, avoiding the peak Japanese beetle feeding schedule, and produces ornamental flagon-shaped red hips in autumn. ‘Geranium’ would be a good selection to fill a big corner or an open space at the back of an informal border.

If you’re intrigued with the cold hardiness and healthy attributes of species roses, you might also consider ‘Nevada’, another R. moyesii hybrid, with white single flowers and golden centres. It has a lovely form and puts out a strong flush of blossoms in early summer, with intermittent blooms through summer.

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