By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
One way to propagate roses is from rose cuttings taken from the rose bush one desires to have more of. Keep in mind that some rose bushes may still be protected under patent rights and thus, are not to be propagated by anyone other than the patent holder. Keep reading to learn more about how to root roses.
How to Grow Roses from Cuttings
The best time to take rose cuttings and rooting roses is in the cooler months, perhaps starting in September, as the success rate is higher for home gardeners at this time. The rose cuttings that one is going to try to root are best taken from the stems of the rose bush that have just flowered and about to be deadheaded.
The rose cutting should be 6 to 8 inches in length measuring down the stem from the base of the bloom. I recommend keeping a jar or can of water handy so that the fresh cuttings may be placed directly into the water after making the cutting. Always use sharp clean pruners to take the cuttings.
The planting site for growing roses from cuttings should be one where they will get good exposure from the morning sun, yet shielded from the hot afternoon sun. The soil in the planting site should be well tilled, loose soil with good drainage.
To start rose bush from cuttings, once the rose cuttings have been taken and brought to the planting site, take out a single cutting and remove the lower leaves only. Make a small slit with a sharp knife on one or two sides of the lower portion of the cutting, not a deep cut but just enough to penetrate the outer layer of the cutting. Dip the lower portion of the cutting into a rooting hormone powder.
The next step when you grow roses from cuttings is to use a pencil or metal probe push down into the planting site soil to make a hole that is deep enough to plant the cutting up to about 50 percent of its overall length. Place the cutting that has been dipped into the rooting hormone into this hole. Lightly push the soil in around the cutting to finish the planting. Do the same thing for each cutting keeping them at least eight inches apart. Label each row of rose cuttings with the name of the mother rose bush it was taken from.
Place a jar over each cutting to form a sort of miniature greenhouse for each cutting. It is extremely important that the soil moisture for the cuttings does not dry out at this rooting time. The jar will help to hold humidity in, but can be a problem if it is subjected to a lot of hot afternoon sun, as it will overheat the cutting and kill it, thus the need for shielding against the exposure to the hot afternoon sun when you root roses. Watering of the planting site every other day may be required to keep the soil moist but do not create a standing water or muddy soils situation.
Once the new roses have taken root well and have begun to grow, they may be moved to their permanent locations in your rose beds or gardens. The new rose bushes will be small but usually grow fairly quickly. The new rose bushes must be well protected against the hard winter freezes in their first year as well as extreme heat stress conditions.
Please keep in mind that many rose bushes are grafted rose bushes. This means that the bottom part is a hardier rootstock that will withstand cold and heat better than the top and more desired part of the rose bush. Starting a rose bush from cuttings places the new rose bush on its own roots, so it may not be as hardy in cold climates or in extreme heat conditions climates. Being on its own root system can cause the new rose bush to be far less hardy than its mother rose bush.