Rooting Rose Cuttings

* First Method: Take a 12” stem with the just-bloomed rose removed. We are told to use softwood cuttings in summer, hardwood in winter. The cutting should have 4 to 6 leaf sets.

Remove all but the top two leaf sets. Cut the stem just ABOVE the top leaf set, and just BELOW the bottom eye. For best results, take the cutting from right where the stem joins the cane, as the cells there are different — but this isn’t always possible. With a razor blade or sharp knife, cut into the bottom of the stem, quartering it. Go up at least a half-inch. Some shave off the bark for an inch on either side of the cutting, near the bottom. You can dip the cane in the rooting hormone. Make a hole in the medium, so the hormone isn’t wiped away. Insert cutting.

The medium varies. Old-timers recommend sticking the cutting into the soil near the “mother plant.” Any friable soil will do, and you can use a very coarse builder’s sand. Potting soil is adequate. Some spray the bed with a fungicide to prevent mildew and blackspot. Do not overwater, as the cuttings may rot. You can put a large glass container over the cutting, or add a plastic cover.

* A far-out method worked here. Prepare a half-dozen cuttings. Use no rooting hormone. Place the cuttings in a zip-top bag, with wet newspapers squeezed into balls. (Use 3 or 4 balls.) Use NO medium. Flatten the bag, to remove most of the air, then seal it. Keep in the refrigerator until the slips appear to callus. This might take a month. When callus, or white roots form, remove the cuttings and plant in good soil, or kitty litter.

* The journal of England’s Royal Horticultural Society wrote up a method: Take cuttings from healthy young bushes. Here, July or September would be fine. Prepare as usual. The rooting medium is sand, loam, and peat moss, in proportions of 3-1-1. Place a 4” pot inside a 6” pot Add pebbles or broken clay pot parts for one inch under the 4-in. pot. There will be 1 in of space all around the outside of the smaller pot. Fill that space with the medium, and wet well. Insert cuttings in this space. Place in a cool, shady spot, or in a plastic bag. Roots should form in 6 to 8 weeks. When cuttings are well-rooted, remove the inner pot, and plant in the ground.

*The simplest method, which has met with mixed success, is to cut a rose in full and glorious bloom. Leave it in water, to enjoy it. When the bloom fades, cut it off, and leave the stem in the water. This worked for our grandmothers.

If you are serious about increasing your roses, set up a misting system. It’s best to use a raised bed, or a table with low sides so that the medium stays in place. The mist must be timed so that the cuttings never dry out. Ralph Moore uses a garden hose, with the proper attachment to provide a mist, not a deluge. It is outside and on a timer. A greenhouse, or some protective covering, helps.

Many books on roses offer information on rooting cuttings. Ortho and Sunset include it, along with info on budding and germinating rose seed. This Fall, collect a few hips, remove the seeds from the casing, put them in damp peat moss. Keep them in the refrigerator until Spring, and plant in light soil. A flat is best, kept in a shady spot. Keep the soil damp.

Some roses (‘Secret Garden Musk Climber’ is a good example) are notoriously difficult to root from cuttings. We have speculated that LAYERING might be a better method for such roses . . .