May 03, 2010

Grandma's Yellow Rose selected as Texas Superstar

Newest yellow rose of Texas has large 'Valentine's Day' blooms

By: Robert Burns, 903-834-6191  
Contact(s): Dr. Larry Stein, 830-278-9151, larrystein@tamu.edu  
COLLEGE STATION - - Grandma's Yellow is not the perfect yellow rose, but your grandmother might say it's 'mighty dang near close,' according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturists.

Grandma's Yellow rose is the newest Texas Superstar selection, one of five that will be announced for 2010, said Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist and one of the developers of Grandma's Yellow rose.

AgriLife Extension and Texas AgriLife Researchers extensively test and designate plants as Texas Superstars that are not just beautiful but perform well for Texas consumers and growers.

Stein and his fellow horticulturists named the new Texas Superstar in honor of Stein's grandmother, Tillie Jungman, who loved the yellow rose and helped grow test varieties in her garden near Castroville, Stein said.

Stein noted the name 'Grandma' has other connotations in addition to his grandmother helping test the plant. The new Texas Superstar is tough yet beautiful, self-sufficient on its own root stock, and low-maintenance, requiring little intervention except some occasional tender loving care. Which is a lot like how his grandmother Tillie was, Stein said.

"This is a rose which does not need constant spraying to survive and produce lovely yellow Valentine-like blooms," Stein said, becoming more serious. "It produces successive flushes of blooms -- from spring until frost -- and is so disease tolerant that fungicide sprays are seldom required. However in wet, high-pressure disease years, fungicide sprays will be needed to keep black spot in check. It is an outstanding performer even in highly alkaline clay soils."

And though it has a lot in common with antique roses, including growing on its own root stock, Grandma's Yellow rose produces large, modern "Valentine's Day" blooms, he said. And like most people's grandmothers, the rose has a rich, interesting history.

"Valentine's Day" bloom is a rosarian term for long-stemmed, cutting roses, typical of the type favored as Valentine's Day gifts, Stein said.

A team comprised of Stein; Jerry Parsons, retired professor and AgriLife Extension horticulturist; and Greg Grant, horticulturist with Stephen F. Austin State University and former AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Bexar County, began looking for a better yellow rose in 1996. In addition to aesthetic value and good performance, they wanted a plant that was both easy to take care of and to root and otherwise propagate, Stein said.

"There are a lot of yellow roses on the market, but most you have to spray every week or so to really make them do well," he said.

"One of the main elements of being made a Texas SuperStar is it must be able to be propagated and mass-produced in sufficient numbers to meet the increased consumer demand generated," he said. Grandma’s Yellow is readily propagated.

The team looked for yellow roses that had lived a long time in the area they were found. Five candidates were identified and were given names for where they were discovered. One group was found near Sabinal, which is northeast of Uvalde. Another series was identified near Seguin, east of San Antonio. A third candidate came from Somerville, Tenn. The fourth series came from Nacogdoches, where one plant was found blooming near an abandoned motel. And the fifth was found off a street named Brady in southwest San Antonio, Stein said.

The Brady and Seguin roses were almost identical in color and fragrance but Seguin was very difficult to root, and was one of the first to be rejected, he said.

The other roses were ruled out, one by one, for various reasons. The Nacogdoches roses showed the most promise, and the selections were eventually weeded down to a few varieties, which were tested in Miss Tillie's garden for four years, from 1999-2003, with attention to disease resistance. The results were encouraging, as Stein and his team partners remarked in their official report. Even when red roses in the garden were completely defoliated with black spot fungus disease, the Nacogdoches yellow roses were clean.

"We put this test plot in of six plants of Nacogdoches, and there was one plant that was different which ended up being Grandma's Yellow," Stein said. "So it either sported or mutated for us to get this plant that was even better than any of the original Nacogdoches (plants). It was just one of those things that happen in nature."

It was after Miss Tillie died in late November 2005, the name Nacogdoches was changed to Grandma’s Yellow. At the funeral, her pallbearers each wore a yellow rose bud in their lapels, Stein said.

More information on the history and characteristics of Grandma's Yellow rose can be found online at http://plantanswers.com/grandmas_yellow_rose07.htm .

Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas AgriLife Research.

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