Rooting Roses The Easy Way!
Rooting roses is an easy, fun project that can be done by anyone. The process is straightforward and the results, although they may not be 100%, should be productive.
You need a minimum of materials but you do need time: time to watch and water! They cannot dry out and they do need light.
Start in the fall and be ready for spring. New bushes for your rose bed and they haven’t cost you a cent! This page guides you through the simple steps to success with your cuttings.
Some roses will do well on their own roots. Some won’t. But there seems to be a move by nurseries these days to grow roses on their own roots where possible. You will find that older style roses, climbers, ramblers and miniatures do well like this. Whereas Hybrid Teas can be too highly bred to perform well unless they are grafted onto a good rootstock.
I have a highly scientific method of discovering which ones do well on their own roots. I take some cuttings, and if they do well, I’m happy! If they don’t do well,then you’re no worse off.
When To Take Them
If I have the choice, I take them once the summer is over. While the days are still warm, but the sap has started to dry up a little. So in the Southern Hemisphere, that’s usually mid March. Some people like3 to do their cuttings in mid summer, when sap flow is high. I have some success with that, but i find taking them at the end of the growing season, and leaving them in the ground over winter produces a higher strike rate.
Each fall I cannot bear to cut back my mini rose bushes and throw the cut branches out, so I reproduce the plants at that time. This is usually in mid-September. It is an easy process, but takes a little care, to have minis growing in the spring.
How To Take The Cuttings
Usually, I select year old wood – each cutting wants to be about 6″ long, and the thickness of a pencil with 3-4 buds on it. A lot of people advise removing the leaves – I don’t find leaving them on makes it any more likely your cuttings will die.
Start by cutting the mini roses (or HT‘s too) with six sets of five-petal leaves.
All of the bottom leaves are removed, one remains on the top.
You have a stem about six inches long, for minis, and eight to ten inches for a HT.
Now dust the stem end in a package of root stimulator or hormone. This can be purchased in a packet the size of a seed packet at any nursery.(Rootone #1; sometimes in a small plastic “pill” jar!) It will last indefinitely and one packet will be enough for several years of rose rooting if you keep it dry.
I have prepared pots for my minis, as it is easy to lose the little things. I use one pot for each variety, so it is easier to label them accurately.
I prefer a pot about three or four inches in diameter and this can accommodate about ten cuttings of one cultivar. I use potting soil with extra sand, but any good grade soil will be okay if there is enough organic matter to maintain good moisture content.
The cuttings I have prepared are put in a hole made in the pot, with a pencil, down to the lowest remaining leaf, and firmed in with your fingers, until the pot is full of cuttings.
This pot is submerged in the ground so that the lip is below ground level. Now cut the bottom out of a gallon plastic milk carton. Keep the screw cap on. Set the milk carton over the submerged pot, after it is watered thoroughly.
Now you are ready to sit back until you cover your other roses in the main rose bed, ready for winter. At that time, about late November, I cover most of the milk carton with mulch so that the carton will not be kicked off or dislodged until spring.
In the spring you can peek in by removing the cap. Do not take off the bottle until late May or June. You will see new leaves forming when you peak and occasionally one blooming. These are similar to hot house roses, care must be taken when you uncover them, in May or June, that they don’t get sunburned or dried out.
They can be separated and placed in the garden but they do better if a jar or newspaper is covering them for a few days after transplanting.
…and keep them watered well. Rooting roses this way can produce a large quantity so make sure you alert the neighbors; they may want some!
My Little Secret
Here’s what i do slightly differently. Firstly, I take the cuttings during the full moon. Yes, it really does make a difference.
And secondly, I use what I call “willow water”. Strip some bark from willow branches (any variety will do). Now soak that bark in a tub with enough water to cover the bark for a couple of days.
The willow contains a chemical that helps with root growth. If you don’t have access to willow branches, then a couple of aspirin will make a good substitute. Once you have taken your rose cuttings, put them in a jar of this water, and let them sit for a day.
Planting Them Outside
An undisturbed corner of the garden is best – not too damp. Mix a little river sand in and plant your cuttings. And that’s it…come back in the spring! With any luck, you will have new buds on the cuttings, showing that they have survived the winter.
Depending on conditions, you may get the end of your cutting beginning to form a callous within a few weeks. Normally, you won’t see this, as you want to leave the cuttings undisturbed until they are ready for transplanting.