How to Propagate Roses from Cuttings on a Small Scale

You don’t need an elaborate system to propagate your own roses. There is nothing more rewarding than the enjoyment of a rose that you grew yourself.

Many of us have fond memories of watching our grandmothers root roses. She would take her cutting and stick it in the soil next to another large rose bush to shade her new cutting, then place an old mayonnaise jar over top. There was never much attention paid until she noticed new growth appearing, and then she would tip the jar, and shimmy a rock under it to gradually let fresh air in until it was strong enough to come out from under the jar and thrive on its own.

Today’s gardeners have come up with an assortment of techniques for rooting roses, and this is just one of the many that have had good results in the propagation of roses.

How to Take Cuttings from Roses

Make sure all tools are clean.
After your rose has finished blooming, take a cutting from a disease free stem that has flowered.
Choose a stem about the diameter of a pencil with five leaves. Each leaf will come from a separate leaf bud.
Cut off the old flower.
Remove the bottom two leaves. There should be three leaves on the top coming from three separate leaf buds.
There should be about a half inch of stem below the bottom leaf bud after cutting.
With a sharp clean knife cut from the bottom up and through the bottom leaf bud. This will be about a one inch cut.
Make a second cut on the other side. There will not be a leaf bud on the other side.
Dip the cutting into rooting hormone. You’ll get good success by using 0.8 percent Indole Butryic Acid (IBA). This is sold under the name of Rhizopon #3 and Hormonex #3. Rooting Gels are also becoming very popular, and easy to use.

What Happens After You Take a Rose Cutting

Fill a 3 inch Jiffy pot with a damp soiless medium. The medium should be a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. Make a space in the medium using a pencil, and insert the cutting. Be careful not to rub off the rooting hormone. Gently tamp the soil and water from the bottom. Then put the pot into a clean, deep translucent box. There will be less disturbance of the cutting by using peat pots, and you’ll be able to see the roots emerge from the bottom of the pot.

Translucent boxes are readily available from local discount stores. You’ll notice that some of the cuttings will lose their leaves. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine as long as the cane stays green. If it turns brown, toss out the cutting and the pot. Never tug on the cutting, instead check the bottom of the peat pot for roots.

The moist pots are enclosed in the box. The box will be opened once or twice a week to remove any fallen leaves, and to make sure the pots don’t dry out. As long as you see that your container looks steamy inside with water droplets on the inside walls, you’ll know that everything is working the way it’s supposed to.

The lid of most containers will not keep a heavy rain from leaking in, so after the lid is on, cover it with a white plastic trash bag. Put the whole container in an area where it will be out of the direct sun.

What Happens When the Rooted Cuttings are Ready to be Transplanted

Some roses root quickly, and some take many weeks. You’ll find out with practice. It’s rare that you’ll get 100% rooting from all your cuttings, so make sure you take a few from your favorite.

After you notice some strong roots popping out from the small peat pot, you can transplant the whole pot into a larger 6″ pot filled with fresh soiless medium with about one inch of compost on the bottom. You might be tempted to fertilize at this point but hold off. The little bit of compost on the bottom of the pot will supply enough nutrients until your rose can be planted outside. This is the time to be careful with your newly rooted roses. Remember they have been in an isolated area, so you have to gradually expose them to the outside elements. Keep your potted rose in a semi-shaded area and make sure it doesn’t dry out. There are so many techniques to this process, and everyone has her favorite.

After the rose has hardened off you can hold it over in a cold frame for the winter, or the rooted rose can be planted directly in the ground. In zone 6 cuttings are taken in mid June, and rooted plants are ready to be transplanted into the garden by September with no shock to the rose.

Propagating roses is a great way to share with family and friends. An old rose that was passed down through the ages will always instill fond memories.

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