Propagating Roses

Freisinger MorgenRote (climber)


Propagating Roses

     At some point in your rose growing experiences you may wish to try your hand at experimenting with propagation to expand your rose collection. For the amateur gardener; propagation by division, cuttings, seeds or layering will produce some very satisfactory results. From these four methods taking cuttings is a particularly easy and fun way to increase your rose stock. It does involve some patience however, because it usually takes about 3 years for your new plant to become established.

     Most roses that are purchased commercially have been bud grafted onto selected pre-prepared rootstocks. The plants that are created from cuttings are called own root roses because they grow on their own roots and are not grafted onto a rootstock. The roses that seem to root most easily are miniatures, ramblers and roses that are closely related to their species. Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are a bit more challenging to root but nonetheless you may be quite surprised at your success! The lengthy time period that it takes a Hybrid Tea to root is one reason they are not often found commercially on their own roots.

     The method for rooting cuttings is quite simple and has a good success rate. In late summer or early autumn, select a healthy cane of approximately one to two feet in length and cut it off just above an outward facing bud. Remove all leaves and twigs. You can also carefully remove all the thorns to make handling easier. Cut the remaining cane into lengths of 6 to 9 pieces with the bottom of each piece being as close to a leaf node as possible. For miniature roses you will only need 2”to 4”inch cuttings.

     At this point, you may wish to use a rooting hormone. You can either use one commercially available or you can make your own by chopping up willow twigs and soaking them in a bucket of water overnight. If you use willow water, then dip the ends of the cutting in the water and let sit overnight

     Plant each cutting in a separate little pot filled with good quality potting soil, adding a bit of sand in the bottom of the hole for drainage. Make sure that at least 2/3 of the cutting is under the soil. Mist the cutting and the soil and place a plastic bag over the pot and secure. Keep your cutting outside, in a brightly lit but sheltered spot. Make sure that you protect your young plant from the direct heat of the sun. Check the pot periodically to make sure that your cutting is moist but not wet. Usually within a month your cutting will have taken root.

     Alternatively, you may plant the cuttings directly outside in the garden in a well prepared spot that is shielded from the midday sun. If flower buds should appear the following summer remove them so that the young plant can concentrate all its energies to producing strong vegetative growth. If you are fortunate, they should be well rooted by the following autumn at which time you can carefully lift and replant them in its permanent location.

     For those that live in areas of severe winter weather, you may wish to experiment with softwood cuttings rather than hardwood cuttings. Using the same method as outlined above, simply choose a mature side shoot that is still green. Trim off all soft growth and cut into 4 pieces rather than 9 pieces. Softwood cuttings should be planted in plastic covered pots and kept in a frost-free environment until the following spring, when you can plant them outside.
By Irene Roth