status of the rose industry

karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)September 12, 2011

The Indiana-Illinois District meeting was held on September 10 in Collinsville, Illinois at the Gateway Convention Center.

Dr. Keith Zary, formally head hybridizer for Jackson and Perkins and now working for Garden's Alive gave a program on the status of the rose growing industry.

Garden's Alive bought the bankrupt Weeks Roses and Jackson and Perkins (J&P). They immediately fired the CEO, President and CFO of these companies and replaced them with experts in the field of Roses. Keith said the holding company, Blackstreet, who bought these companies just a few years ago paid over $200,000,000 for them. Garden's alive bought them in bankruptcy for $7,000.000.

The holding company who purchased J&P, Wayside Gardens, and Park Seeds knew absolutely nothing about roses or the plant industry and pretty well drove them to ruin.

J&P printed a really nice catalog for 2012 but they have no product to back up the catalog.(this explains why so many have complained about having to wait so long for roses from them.) DR. Zary said it appears they'll have nothing through 2015 as they've not contracted for any product through then.

Weeks and their hybridizing staff are pretty much intact and will be able to continue to supply retailers with current and new rose varieties.

The major change is only in their testing fields which were moved to Tipp City, Ohio. They'll be concentrating on developing exceptionally disease resistant and cold hardy varieties including hybrid teas. This is something they couldn't do in California.

As an example, 10,000 test seedlings were planted outdoors in Tipp City last year to test for winter hardiness and disease resistance. Of these only 10 survived the cut.

Rose breeding will now be done in the Midwest in keeping with the public's demand for these types of roses.

All roses will now be sold under the Weeks name.

Keith said all roses will be own root.

Grafting is very labor intensive and current immigration policy makes it difficult to obtain cheap labor.

He said the major problem with the rose industry was due to the building bust. Fewer new homes means less need for landscaping.The growers were losing money because of having to pay mortages on unused land. In some cases over half of the growing fields were not being used.

Considering that J&P was selling 50,000.000 roses a year until very recently, that's quite a downfall for them.

I have noticed I've not seen any or very few J&P branded roses in the garden centers for a few years.

Star Roses/Conard Pile is getting out of the rose growing business and will license out the growing of their product. They're still a strong company due to the success of the Knock Out line of roses.

Were it not for that they'd be out of business also.

The AARS testing group will probable be defunct soon. as rose testing is being done in house by the growers.

Keith's program was more on the current status of the rose growing industry as opposed to roses in general. Anyone thinking they'd get a heads up on what rose were in the pipe line were disappointed but his talk was very enlightening as he explained why so many big name growers are going bankrupt.

Overall though, the future looks good. Consolidation in the industry has strengthened the few remaining growers and the changes they've made further helps them.

These large holding companies bought them and pretty well ruined them.

Was not aware Garden's Alive owns so many mail order garden and plant supply companies. They pretty well own the mail order plant indistry.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Thanks. The turmoil in the industry over the past ten years has been amazing.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seil zone 6b MI

Thanks for the information, Karl. It's very interesting. Having test gardens in Ohio is good news for me. Lets hope they really are interested in coming out with hardy, healthy HTs and other types of roses. With hearing about the loss of Vintage Roses in 2013 today I was beginning to think we really would end up with only a variety of Knock Outs to chose from.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

Seems like it would take a very good business person to make sure that they succeed, hopefully they have some.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That still could be the case Seil. If only Knock Out performs to their standards there, they are going to have to breed from it extensively. Finding suitable mates for it to create something different with similar disease resistance is going to be tricky. If it was easy, Bill Radler would have already done it. Kim

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

It depends on what you mean by different. If you've read the book on the Explorers, it really sounds like it is more a matter of deciding this is important, than any inherent difficulty in breeding the roses. Of course the really interesting part about the Explorers is that for all practical reasons, they have introduced their prime breeding roses into general commerce. So the potential is there for some very good roses to be bred by amateurs who take advantage of the Canadian government's groundwork.

The reality is that J&P made a fatal tactical error in totally pulling out of New York. If they had left a test garden there, they would have had some clue about the tidal wave that was going to overwhelm them. (BTW, I heard that from the person who volunteered to run this test facility)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 6:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mad Gallica, I hadn't heard about a book on the Explorers - would you mind telling me the title? I'd like to read it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a HT in my garden that stayed perfectly clean in my garden this past summer while I fought kidney stones. NOTHING got sprayed June, July and half of August. EVERYTHING in my garden got black spot except Remember Me. A Scottish import. Winter hardey and black spot free. I ask myself, why isn't this HT being used in breeding programs. I've never heard of anyone using it anywhere.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kstrong(10 So Cal)

Actually, if you look through the lineage listings over at HMF, you will see Remember Me in the breeding programs of several breeders, including Mr. Carruth. It's in the background of the series of roses that includes Coffee Bean, Smoke Rings and All A Twitter, among many others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Descendents of Remember Me from HMF

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 11:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I never considered it for breeding when I grew it Ken, because the petals fried to a crisp in my heat within a day of opening. It was an OK plant, it just didn't flower enough in my heat, nor did they flowers it gave, last long enough. Kim

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 12:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Harborrose, National Roses Canada put it out a few years ago. They no longer have it on their webpage, so I don't know if it is still available. You can read about it at the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Explorer book

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kentucky_rose zone 6

Karl, Thanks for the update.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Thanks for this info Karl!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 4:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sc_gardener(zone 5)

Great info. It is always scary when the players go down to just a few though.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kordes has been turning out lots of very disease-resistant roses in recent years. That has been one of the primary goals of their breeding, and Knock Out has not been involved. Check to see which of their roses have won the ADR award and you will see plenty of disease-resistant roses.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 11:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maryl zone 7a

Did I read that right? They were bought a few years back for 200 million, yet sold to Gardens Alive for just 7 thousand on the auction block. Heck we forum people could have chipped in and bought J&P at that price. Wouldn't that have been a fun project for us-LOL.....Maryl

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 12:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Disease resistant" in the climates they are selected in. An ADR rating and a statement of "disease resistant" means a potential for better performance in YOUR climate. It does NOT mean the particular rose is resistant to the specific black spot strain in your climate. Nor does it mean it won't rust or mildew in your climate. I can't tell you how many roses I've given away, mailed to people in other climates because they weren't healthy in MINE, but were in THEIRS.

Until the ADR plants are tested for black spot resistance to OUR strains of black spot, they aren't suitable fodder for breeding for resistance for us. Kim

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buford(7 NE GA)

Mary, it's 7 million, not thousand :) I think there is a . instead of , there.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 7:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maryl zone 7a

thanks Buford for spotting the typo. I figured it was something like that. But for one brief happy moment I had dreams of all the new roses we GW forumers could be introducing in the coming years that WEREN'T Knockout. Back to reality now...Maryl

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Thanks, Karl for that valuable information. I appreciate it very much.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for the precis of the talk. However, I am less than reassured by the last paragraphs. It sounds suspiciously like Lenin's 'fewer but better,' and we all know how THAT turned out. JimD

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 8:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Two ADR vars, Eliza and Lions Rose, have been tested for disease resistance in our garden for several years, and both have been completely clean.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 8:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't view the ADR or Earthkind designation as bullet proof by any means, but when I look at a rose, the designation means it's disease resistant somewhere. That's always a good starting point for me and something to consider. There are other things I sometimes look at also. Place it was bred, lineage, what others in your area say, if anything. Shoot, sometimes I buy it because I like it's name or the way it looks or the color or just because it's a particular kind of rose. I've bought some of Kim's roses just because they were his. :)

Everything is a crap shoot in terms of how a rose will do. I'm not looking for guarantees, but any kind of testing or recommendation is helpful.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you harborrose! I'm honored! Kim

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 8:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Karl for passing this on to us. It sounds both scary and encouraging that there is hope of a turnaround. I just hope the industry hasn't forgotten us in zones that need heat tolerant varieties.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 7:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
peachymomo(Ca 8)

Wow, I just watched a 'California's Gold' program where they were in Wasco at Week's garden, it's kind of sad to think that all those rose fields will be gone and all those people will be out of work. I can understand that most Americans will appreciate a test garden in Ohio more than one in sunny So. Cal, but it's still a bit depressing. Maybe in time the pendulum will swing back towards a booming and thriving industry and more test gardens will be opened in different places again. We can only hope.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would hope if they move the test fields to Ohio, they leave the production to Wasco. Irish Farms is already set up to provide all the labor, skilled and otherwise, to produce fruit and roses in large quantities. They have contracted to everyone in that industry for many decades, doing everything required to produce the plants once the fields are ripped and leveled. They do it ALL, preventing the producers from being required to employ their own people to weed, bud, head back, prune, irrigate and harvest. They process the plants once harvested, pack and ship.

Ohio may provide better opportunities to test the plants against growing conditions and fungus strains more commonly encountered by those in the harsher areas, but I seriously doubt they could produce the quantity and quality of product anywhere else in the country possible from Wasco, and definitely no where near the cost. Land is cheap in comparison; water is always an issue, but is made up for by the climate; infrastructure exists from packing sheds/processing buildings, storage, plumbing, transportation, work force, etc. The size and grade of plants everyone is used to and has come to expect is due to a large part, to the quality of the climate and soils there.

It would make good sense to test in the Midwest and grow in California. It should be much more cost effective than trying to recreate everything elsewhere, particularly in harsher, shorter growing season climate. Unless the business issues have burned too many bridges and hurt too many other businesses, preventing them from being able to continue in the area. Memories are very long in that industry. Kim

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would think that test gardens at state universities with graduate botany programs would be a good fit.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 12:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Karl, I appreciate your sharing this information with us.
As I observe people in the midwest posting about their roses, I realize that mine are much more vulnerable to blackspot than theirs. I cannot grow perhaps half of the Buck roses because of blackspot.

People who have great roses in California cannot grow what I can grow, and their roses get blackspot.

I hope that different areas of the country could be areas of testing, and that people would not waste money on "famous" roses when those people in their areas know the rose won't grow without chemicals.

I would like to mention that in Oklahoma, two of our best nurseries are Texas nurseries. Antique Rose Emporium and Chamblees both grow roses that seem to be heat tolerant, and disease resistant -- at least more than other areas of the county.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Thank you Karl for the information. People who never worked in the nursery industry need to know why the nurseries and plants they want have gone out of business.

I worked for a large rhododendron supplier some time ago. It had been sold to a Boston holding company in the merger mania of the 1990s. This bank thought they were going to make piles of money by buying up independent nursery producers (including Weeks). They knew nothing about the industry, just about finance - but not all that much about finance either, otherwise they would have known that no one gets rich in the nursery industry! They just about ruined the rhodie nursery I worked for until it broke free and returned to family ownership.

I'm glad that Weeks and JP have been salvaged to some extent. I'm sorry, I never ever asked for roses tested in Ohio. What good is that going to do me, out here on the West Coast??

There are very good reasons for growing roses in southern climates like SoCal, as roseseek explains. I hope they're continuing to do the production in SoCal, and just testing in Ohio? Portland-based rose grower Edmunds Roses was bought up by a midwestern nursery and everything moved back east (everything east of the Pacific time zone is Back East to us), and the quality has suffered. And even Edmunds was using the Wasco-area fields for production in the last few years, because they could grow bigger better plants cheaper there than in Oregon. Like roseseek, I believe people would be disappointed by the size and grade of plants produced in the midwest compared to what they're getting now.

Karl, botany students are not interested in roses. You need a good horticulture program for that. I'm a horticulturalist by training, working in a field dominated by botanists. They do not like us, we are second-class to them, if that. It's kind of an astronomer/astrologist thing in botanists' minds. Most are pretty poor gardeners, some want to ban all exotic plants - don't know what they think they'll eat. I do not tell people I'm a horticulturalist until they've seen what I can do, and then only if they ask. Anyway, there are good horticulture programs out there, like Purdue and CalPoly.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pfzimmerman(6/7 Upstate SC)

I think the test fields are moving to Ohio simply because Gardens Alive is located there and that is where their other R&D facilities are. Makes sense to have it all in one place - and saves money. Gardens Alive bid for J&P and even though their offer was, I believe, more than Blackstreet it was not accepted because they would not guarantee they would keep the all the jobs in South Carolina where Parks Seed and Wayside are. Too bad as I think they would have been better owners.

Personally I think Weeks is in good hands. Garden's Alive have good people there who actually know something about the plant industry. Keith Zary is a good example. I don't know if Tom Carruth is staying with Weeks but hopefully he is. Christian Bedard also knows his stuff.

IMO California mainly grows large roses because of Dr. Huey. It simply pushes larger plants. But Dr. Huey does not do well in my area (or most areas this side of the country) and keep in mind since it cannot be grown from seed RMV is a result of it being used. Personally I'd be happy to see it vanish as a rootstock.

There is a lot of growing in Arizona these days and I suspect we'll see more there. And don't count out Tyler, TX.

But I think in the end that won't matter. The trend is heavily towards own-root and towards liners finished in pots. Much of the public and quite a few garden centers don't want to deal with bareroots. At best I think we'll see one year field grown own-root crops for wholesale use but I'm not holding my breath on that continuing either.

As to retail I think you'll see more and more 2 quart pots being used for mail order - even from the big boys.

The traditional bareroot budded crop takes two years from planting to harvest. That means you are attempting to guess what the rose market will be in two years. Think of all those growers who planted crops in the winter spring of 2007/2008 for fall 2009 harvest and spring 2010 sales only to see the bottom fall out in September of 2008. By then the planting of the understock and budding (read the most expenses) were spent for a crop that was now likely going to never sell.

With liner production you are almost producing on demand and that means you can react to the market far more quickly and keep losses under control. And conversely bring in larger profits if a rose, or the rose market, heats up.

I think the changes in nursery ownership and nurseries closing aren�t the only big changes we are in the midst of.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

according to Keith, both Tom and Christian are staying with Weeks.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 4:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pfzimmerman(6/7 Upstate SC)

Glad to hear that!!!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

pardon my total ignorance but what are liners finished in pots?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 10:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Liners are small own root cuttings grown in very small pots. Those I purchased this spring were in 2 3/8" and 4" pots. Mine were either 18 or 32 to a flat depending on pot size. They're about the size of the small bands you'd get from Vintage and other own root suppliers. Liners are most often sold wholesale to nurseries in early spring to be finished off in larger pots and sold as larger bud and bloom bushes.
Those I received in early April were blooming and ready for sale by the end of May.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kstrong(10 So Cal)

Well, just got an email from J&P that points up the truth of the original poster's claim that while J&P has a nice catalog, they really have no roses to back it up.

I ordered one (count em, one!) rose from J&P on August 6. They were having a sale of some sort, and I wanted the newest striped rose they had in the catalog, called Raspberry Swirl. The website said nothing at all about when they would be shipped or whether they were container or bareroot plants. So I asked -- I told them I didn't care as between container or bareroot, but I would like them shipped now, or at least as soon as possible. I got back an email full of corporate "we appreciate your biz" garbanzo beans, but no information. So I called them and said, look, all I really want is the anwser to my two questions. The person answering the phone didn't know and didn't seem to know how to find out, but later on she called back and said my container ross would be delivered in "early October."

So, when "early October" came and went, I emailed them again. Got the same text of the corporate "we appreciate your biz" email in return, to which has been added the lines,

Jackson and Perkins prides itself in selling and shipping only the finest, strongest, healthiest roses in peak condition. Due to unfavorable growing conditions this season the roses you have ordered do not meet these standards at this time. Our Jackson and Perkins Horticulturist has determined your roses will require an additional 3-4 weeks in our nursery. After the 3-4 week period, our Horticulturist will inspect our roses again to see if they meet Jackson and Perkins standards for shipping. If they do, we will begin shipping in late October to early November. However if the roses fail to meet our standards, your order will be held and shipped at the proper planting time for your region next Spring.


I think there really is nothing in their greenhouse. I don't think I will see roses in a month's time either, and probably not in the spring. Oh well, the catalog looks nice. But I did notice that the latest few versions of the catalog that were mailed to me had no named roses in them. They have been reduced to selling roses under the labels, "red," "pink," and "yellow," which they can get from any grower and sell in the same manner as a big box store.

So that's what it has come to, I guess.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 1:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I contacted Jackson & Perkins about their spring shipping, and they said that their new spring catalog will come out in late December.

They said that they will sell both bareroot roses, and some container roses, in the spring catalog.

What they have been selling this autumn are 2 quart pot size container roses. Only a few varieties are still available for fall shipping.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 5:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vossner(z9 houston)

It's been a while since I've been on GW. Karl, I am totally impressed w/ your knowledge of the rose biz and your overall thoughtful, analytical way of evaluating situations.

Situation is dismal, to say the least. I think the only thing we can hope for is that young blood, full of dreams and aspirations, enter the industry and ignore the fact that the odds are against them. Haven't mavericks always been the ones to save the day? lol

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 1:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The last "young blood, full of dreams and aspirations" to enter the industry and ignore the fact the odds were against him was EuroDesert. Until income increases sufficiently to permit disposable, discretionary spending for such "luxuries" as roses and gardening, to keep these places in business, it ain't happening. Kim

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jerijen(Zone 10)

I wish I could disagree with you, Kim.

For the present, given the predictions of continued economic hardship, I recommend that folks learn to propagate roses.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 1:25PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Francis Meilland, suggestions on pruning and care?
I currently have him in a 15 gallon, he's at least...
Partial Shade Miniflora
I am looking for some Minifloras that would be okay...
Beth9116 zone 8a TX
vigorosa roses
As I continue my research on roses that will work in...
Beth9116 zone 8a TX
Heirloom roses website
Hi, I've been trying to order roses from the Heirloom...
Old Rose Seminar, May 2, 2015 San Juan Bautista, CA
By tomorrow, I hope to have this up on the Heritage...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™