Modern practice has been to grow roses on a graft, however, there are some nurseries now moving back to growing roses with their own root system. For a start it’s quicker and cheaper.
It is generally not difficult growing rose from cuttings, provided you take a few steps in preparation. (See also the video below)
You can plant cuttings directly into the ground or start them off in pots. The pots do allow you more control.
- Prepare your pots or soil before you take the cuttings. They need to be as fresh as you can make them – so having the pot ready first means you can put them straight into them.
- Pre-water the pot or ground
- Have some rooting hormone ready to dip the end of the cutting into – this improves your chance of success
- You can just put the cutting straight into the ground – well mulched and composted is best
- For pots: a 1:1 mix of potting mix and perlite works very well. It is a light blend that allows the roots to form and grow without too much struggle
- Have a large glass jar or plastic bottle (top removed) to place over the cutting. This will ensure that high humidity is maintained and this helps prevent the soil/potting mix drying out.
- Water the parent rose bush well the night before
When and What
The best time of year to take cuttings is spring right after the first blooming has finished, or early fall. In milder climates, winter and summer can also be successful – provided the parent plant isn’t dormant. Intense summer heat of is not conducive for taking cuttings, nor frost and freezing winters.
New or old wood?
Immature wood will probably not take. New wood is usually mature enough after the stem has just finished blooming
If taking the cuttings in the fall use older wood.
- Try to get your cuttings in the early morning
- Length of cuttings: 4 to 6 inches is sufficient.
- Cut at a sharp angle just above a potential bud
- Leave one set of leaves at the top of each cutting
- Remove the lower leaves so that 2-3 leaf joints are visible on the stem. The leaf joints are where the roots will form.
- Always use a sharp knife or secaturs – to avoid crushing the stem
- You can make slits in the bottom inch of a stem or even scrape off some of the stem to encourage more rooting. Try some with and some without and see which works best for you.
Planting – Into Soil or Pots
It takes 4 to 8 weeks for the cutting to root, depending on the weather and the rose variety.
Climbers seem to be quicker which is good to note
You may see some new growth starting within two weeks.
Avoid lifting the cutting to see if it is developing roots as this will almost certainly ensure failure. Don’t be tempted!
Don’t forget to label your rose cuttings with their proper name so that you can identify it for later planting in the garden.
Depending on the size of the pot, you can place 5+ in a single pot. Just leave about 4 inches between each stem – makes it easier to separate when you are ready to move them to the garden.
Mind you, some experienced gardeners just shove the cuttings in the ground and hope for the best – and you can get some results – it’s worth doing both methods
Periodically water the soil around the jar, otherwise the rose stem will dry out.
Keep the cuttings moist at all times, with good air circulation and sunlight.
You can re-pot them when their roots are at least an inch long.
If you have struck the cutting in fall, wait until the spring to plant them into the ground. Depending on their size (growth rate) you may need to re-pot them to allow better development. In milder climates you can put them into the ground in winter, but I usually prefer to wait until I know the soil is warming up.
Summary – The Steps
- Prepare your potting medium or garden bed.
- Have the pots ready with hormone powder nearby
- Select your rose – just make sure it is healthy and disease and pest free.
- Cut a stem 6-10 inches long
- Dip the cut end of the tip cutting into a rooting hormone
- Poke a hole into the prepared pot/ground with a pencil – don’t poke the stem straight in as this damages the nutrient carrying cambium layer along the stem
- Firm down the soil/mix with your fingers to make it secure
- Place a jar or plastic bottle over the cuttings (greenhouse affect)
- Water daily (or mist under the jar) Needs high humidity and its heat.
- Keep them away from direct sun as it will cook them. (Indirect light or only early morning sun)
- You can remove the cover after about 4 weeks, but keep misting.