How the Knock Out® Rose was Born

The Knock Out Rose

A little piece of Conard-Pyle’s history with the Knock Out®  Rose...

Conard-Pyle just received another award for the Knock Out® Family of Roses — there are almost too many to keep track. This one however is a bit different, as it relates to being recognized by the horticulture trade (a.k.a. our peers in the business), and not the rose itself. Knock Out® received the Excellence in Marketing award from Greenhouse Grower, a very influential trade magazine, during the largest trade show in our industry in July.

These two pictures are from what we at Conard-Pyle call our “Acquisition Book.” This book is the bible where we record every single new plant received for evaluation. It can be a mutation found at a nursery, or a new seedling sent to us by an amateur hybridizer, gardener, or commercial breeder. The day we receive each plant, we give it what we call a “CP number.”  This number is a code that will follow the plant for the rest of its life at Conard-Pyle until it gets discarded, or, in the rare instance, when it makes it to market -- at which point the number changes to a variety name under which it will be patented. To this day, although we maintain all of our records electronically, I have insisted that all new plants we receive for evaluation are hand written in the acquisition books.  I hope this tradition will continue well into the 21st century, so one day someone can tell a similar story about another great plant.

If you look at the bottom lower end of this picture, you will see the number 4642.

The Post-It on the right gives you the story. That code, CP4642 is the number under which the Knock Out® rose began its existence with us. Prior to this, is was known as RAD 89-20-1, which is the code Will Radler gave to the seedling when it made the original cross in 1989, after it germinated in his cellar. But that’s another story, one much better told by Bill himself.

If you look at picture 2, the close up on the line shows the date we received it (May 13, 1992), the breeder code under which we received it (RAD 89-20-1), the type of rose (shrub), the type of material (one plant), the quality (poor!), and the Breeder’s name (Bill Radler).

The reason the quality was recorded as “poor” was because Bill rooted the cutting himself in his house and he did not have all the material we use in commercial propagation. So in essence we got some sort of “runt of the litter” kind of a plant, but Bill felt it was important enough to send us whatever plant material he was able to propagate from his original seedling. We were able to rescue it, bring it to good health and to start the evaluation process which was now a good, healthy plant. The rest is history.

The reason this is a bit personal for me is because the recording in the book is actually my hand writing. It is the only one I wrote on that page. Normally it was my assistant at the time who was entering all the information in the book. She was not there that day, so when the package arrived, I took care of the poor thing, brought it to the greenhouse, repotted and watered it and made sure it was in the right spot so it would not get lost, and then recorded the information in the book. So there it is.  The official beginning of the life of The Knock Out® Rose at Conard-Pyle, recorded for history by yours truly 20 years ago on that fateful day of May 13, 1992.

VP of License and New Business Development at Star® Roses and Plants

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