Breeding and Development

Breeding Objectives at Star® Roses and Plants

You can expect four attributes from every plant introduced by Star® Roses and Plants: 

  1. Unique 
  2. Visually appealing 
  3. Tolerant of pests and/or disease 
  4. Environmentally adaptable for landscape and container use 

A plant must do more than look pretty, it must solve a need for our customer and the end consumer. After 125 years, you can trust we’ve learned a few things about breeding, developing, and introducing successful plants.  

One pillar of this success is partnering with hybridizers around the world. We have the resources and legacy to help bring their discoveries and creations to market. In turn, each breeder is a specialist, bringing their expertise in their chosen genera.  

This commitment goes back to the 1930s when Conard-Pyle first partnered with Meilland® International and with Kathleen Meserve, who single-handedly redefined Hollies in North American gardens.  

Our team deeply values partnering with both rose and woody ornamental breeders. If you are interested in collaborating with us to breed, trial, or introduce a new genetic, please send us a message. 

Rose Breeding and Product Development

Our philosophy for introducing new plants is based on two principles: 

  1. Maintain close relationships with hybridizers who entrust us to evaluate their seedlings. 
  2. Operate a superior testing facility to ensure that only the best plants are introduced. 

These guidelines have allowed us to introduce many award-winning plants, including the revolutionary Knock Out® Family of Roses. Our current breeder partnerships include: 

We collaborate with these key partners to develop genetics that combine trusted performance with the current needs and trends of the rose market. 

Rose Trialing Process

Our roses are tested at three different facilities located on both the East and West Coasts. To be introduced, a rose must perform well at all three sites: West Grove, PA; Wasco, CA; and Arroyo Grande, CA. 

Roses also undergo extensive production trials to determine own-root, container, and garden performance. Trialing sites across the country help us gather additional data and conduct thorough zone testing and comparison trials against the industry’s top varieties.  

We’re constantly striving towards cutting edge genetics and processes to ensure the final product will be highly successful and enjoyable for our customer and the end consumer. 

“Rose Hell:” Our rose test fields in West Grove, Pennsylvania
“Rose Heaven:” Our rose test fields in Wasco, California
Our no-spray rose test fields in Arroyo Grande, California

Woody Ornamental Breeding and Product Development

In a class of plants that can take upwards of 10 years to breed, how do you choose future products to fill industry gaps? In the Woody Ornamental Department at Star® Roses and Plants, the breeding journey begins with either a plausible solution to a problem or the conception of a novel idea.  

After identifying a breeding objective, we select the best parents for the desired traits. Using advanced laboratory techniques in combination with traditional breeding, our team develops the beautiful, resilient, and low-maintenance plants that you find in our pipeline.  

Take our Sweet Starlight™ Hydrangea. Hydrangea paniculata are known for their large blooms and white-to-pink coloration, but often exhibit frustrating qualities as they age, such as flopping and overgrown habits. Our team was able to successfully breed a new variety with earlier blooming and color onset, non-flopping stems, and a more compact habit to increase versatility of use in the landscape.

Woody Ornamental Trialing Process

Before introduction, woody plants undergo rigorous testing to be sure they’re market worthy. We test various types of products, including fast-turn color shrubs, evergreens, and bare root trees.

A period of screening in nursery containers and field conditions is performed before evaluation in commercial comparison trials. Varieties are tested onsite and at numerous trial locations and universities across the country to determine performance in different hardiness zones and climates. Plants are only released if they prove to perform better than their peers across numerous environments.   

In addition to identifying disease resistance and attributes, the trial process helps determine the timing and protocol for finishing product. This is most helpful in comparison to other varieties on the market. If a plant does not demonstrate an improvement over industry standards, it is not introduced.   

Our goal in executing such detailed evaluation is to ensure each introduction delivers new or improved attributes to the customer.

Commercial Comparison Container Trial in West Grove, Pennsylvania
View the videos below to learn about breeding and production at Star® Roses and Plants.