jefferson rose climbing habit?

StarmadeNovember 29, 2013

I'm puzzled by the listings at nurseries, as well as HMF, of jefferson rose/softee as 2-3 feet high.

Mine is a climber. It was sold to me as jefferson rose, and I am pretty sure it came from Chamblees, though I can't find it in their listing now. It wants to throw long canes 5 to 7 feet, or longer, and has done this since I first put in the ground a couple years ago. It grew very eagerly. I moved it from its original spot in part because it had outgrown the space within six months; in its current part shade position the canes just get longer as they reach for the light. I have whacked it back to three feet and it puts out long canes again immediately. In all other respects it answers the description, quite thornless, a few tiny prickles on the backs of leaves, lovely clean small lacy foliage, and the flowers match the photos I find on HMF and elsewhere. I have searched quite hard for some mention of it as a climber elsewhere, and I think came across a mention of it in a fairly obscure spot, possibly breeder forum, which suggested it "sort of wanted to climb" but gave no dimensions.

My question is, could a climbing habit possibly be distinctive to the form of Softee sold as Jefferson Rose? Would anyone else describe its habit as "climbing" or do I have an unusual sport? I am in zone 9 Houston.

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catsrose(VA 6)

It's a sport or it's not Jefferson, which would be my guess. Maybe a noisette.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 8:18PM
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Thanks for the input; I am leaning to sport. It's not a noisette. The foliage is quite distinctive, small and delicate (in keeping with a modern miniature, about the size of leaves eg on red cascade) but very shiny, modern, a bright green, with the most delicate red edge to the new leaves.
It really looks more like a ralph moore climber than anything else.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 9:06PM
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There is a climbing sport of Softee. From what is behind it (ancestors) it is highly likely it should have sported to a climbing form, even though the traditional bush form can attain quite "respectable" proportions with maturity. Questions regarding the eventual size of Softee have arisen fairly frequently over the years. Mutating to more vigorous, even climbing forms is not uncommon with this rose. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Cl. Softee

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:41AM
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Kim, thanks for this; it is interesting that the discussion on the comments page reveals size discrepancies also (the photos discussion suggests the "climber" only goes two to four feet for some of those who own it). But also I see what you mean about the parentage; it OUGHT to climb. I think I will take some cuttings and see which way they go.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 8:52AM
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You're welcome Starmade. Sequoia didn't promote Softee because it didn't root as easily as Mr. Moore desired. Ease of propagation was one of his main goals and this one didn't quite measure up in his eyes and in that location. I was drawn to it for years because of its breeding, lack of prickles and performance there and in my garden. You'll probably be able to get some to root, but if they resist, knowing it is known for not being as easy as most of his other creations, should hopefully keep it from preventing you from trying it again or trying other varieties.

You'll find the eventual size of a climbing version will be both very location dependent as well as a function of pruning and support. Many which produce elongated growth will be dwarfed by having to support themselves. Providing support early will often encourage them to grow longer, taller, instead of thickening their canes to support themselves. So, if you want it taller, provide something to tie it to so it will grow longer, climb better and not have to sacrifice length to provide strength to support itself. Kim

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Kim, thanks for the heads up that it might not be easy to root. It puts out lots of cane, so at least I have plentiful material to work with.

As to whether it climbs or not, I don't mind which it does, I'm just curious about what happens. I would actually like to have a shorter shrubbier bush (which was what I thought I was getting when I ordered it) and if I could create one from my own plant I'd be happy, but I'd not mind having more of what I've got either. In fact I just ran into an article of yours on Iceberg that suggested its cane length was similarly variable, and wood rooted from the climber might decide to shrub, or the shrub might decide to climb, it happened both ways.

I also remember reading somewhere that Rouletti/ Highway 290 pink buttons is genetically identical to Old Blush, which, if true, means that the same genes can express themselves in very different forms. It makes sense to me that some plants should be more variable in this way than others.

This plant has been in two locations, one full sun, one mostly shade, in neither case supported, and in both places threw long, graceful canes in a dramatically airy way. It will be distinctively different if it stops at three or four feet in any location. At the same time it is so healthy it is hard to stop myself from trying to create more of it.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 3:07PM
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You're welcome Starmade. It isn't really the "same genes" expressing themselves differently. The "genetic fabric" is unstable, permitting it to partially "unravel", reshuffle itself into different variations, so one instance might be a more dwarf, shrubby type while others are much more elongated, "climbing". The variations can also encompass timing and density of flowering, particularly with the larger types, though some mini climbing sports have been once flowering. Sequoia promoted Cl. Cal Poly instead of Cl. Rise'n'Shine because the Cal Poly mutation was continuous flowering where the Rise'n'Shine mutant primarily flowered in spring to early summer.

There are actually quite a few sources of miniaturization, not just from Chinensis. Rouletii may be extremely similar to Old Blush, but not genetically "identical" because of the triggering of the genetic dwarfing factor. Peace sported to numerous color variations; climbing forms and even a miniature! If they were genetically "identical", they would look "identical" to one another. They can easily share virtually identical genetics with only one or two genes expressing themselves differently and appear virtually the same, or extremely different.

So far, I'm not aware of the flowering habit of Softee varying much depending upon the plant habit, but, given sufficient number of plants and mutations, it should be entirely possible for it to produce greater or lesser flowering examples.

I grew Softee in a fifteen gallon can for many years, where it quickly grew through the drain holes into the ground with extremely thick roots (one nearly two inches in diameter!). I used it for breeding and hadn't an appropriate place in the ground to grow it. The plant was easily three by three feet, though it frequently shot out taller, thicker canes which would eventually branch into huge inflorescences. Even stressed in a can which was rather quickly too small for it, in severely depleated soil and frequently water and food stressed, it was seldom without at least some bloom. When I gave it to a more "loving" home, it required a lot of digging to loosen it from the soil. Ants had colonized the remaining soil, so I completely bare rooted the plant and left it soaking in a large pail of water until it traveled to its new home. Those roots continue pushing new plants out of the ground, providing more to place in other deserving homes. I think you'll find it as durable and persistent as most of the other Moore creations as long as it really establishes itself first. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Baby Peace

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 4:07PM
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