Grafting Roses - Budding Roses

Grafting roses or budding roses is a nurseryman’s technique. Most roses bought from garden centers or online have been propagated by this method

I always love to propagate roses this way. It is not easy for the first time and maybe you will not get any results, but if you do it right, it is the fastest way to get new roses.

Grafting on first place means to join the bud or stem of one rose onto the roots of another. That leads us to the questions, which rootstock to use and from where to get the rootstocks.

Rootstocks To Use For Grafting Roses

Most modern roses are usually budded on to the roots of wild roses with the advantage that the new plant has ready-made roots for a quick development. Not every rootstock can be used for budding to get good results

Rootstocks used for grafting roses include:

  • Rosa “Laxa”: This one has the advantage that they rarely produce suckers, and are nearly thornless for easy budding. Rosa Laxa is popular in the UK.
  •  Dr. Huey: A commonly used rootstock by nurseries in the US
  •  Rosa “Multiflora”: Popular in the US. Produces strong and vigorous plants. Winter hardier than Dr. Huey.
  • Rosa “Canina”: Because this variety easily produces suckers, it is not that popular any longer. But they have the advantage to produce hardy plants.
  • Rosa Rugosa: Not suitable for heavy soils and rarely used for bushes
  • Fortuniana: This rootstock is cold sensitive and commonly used to grow roses in mild climates

As professional rose growers always experiment with new rose rootstocks to get the perfect rose, you may find more rootstock varieties in different regions.

I could not find any suppliers to sell rootstocks for the public, that’s why I always ask my local rose grower for some understocks when I am ready to experiment with budding roses. Or you grow them from seed, which is definitively the longer and harder way.

Budding Roses: 6 Steps To Your Own Rose

Ready for budding rose? Here we go.

Buy rootstocks in late fall (end of October or November) and plant them in the same way you would plant a bareroot rose.

The right time for budding rootstocks is the following mid-summer, while the plants are still growing. Choose a cool day to minimize the risk of the propagating material drying out.

What Is A Well-Ripened Shoot

On a well-ripened cane, the thorns will snap off easily and cleanly. On the other hand, the cane is not ripe enough if the thorns are soft and flexible.

  1. Choose a strong, healthy, well-ripened, just finished-flowering shoot from the rose you want to grow.
  2. Cut a piece of bud-wood (10-12 inches) from the middle of the shoot, remove the leaves (retain short stalks) and snap off the thorns. Keep the shoot moisture in a plastic bag while proceeding.
  3. Use a budding-knife to make a T-shaped cut in the rootstock-bark and carefully ease back the left and right flaps of the bark with the blunt end of the knife.
  4.  Find a dormant bud on your bud-wood and cut off a tail of the bark (bud-shield) beneath the bud. Remove the pith behind the bud and remove ragged edges
  5. Insert the bud-shield into the T-cut and cut off the top of the bud-shield along the top of the T. Don’t damage the rootstock wood.
  6. Softly tie the bud-shield with damp raffia, leaving the bud uncovered

That’s it for a while. If everything was perfect and the union is a success, we will see new growth from the bud the following spring.

Remove the ties when the bud begins to grow, and then cut off the growth of the rootstock above the new bud.

As this procedure needs practical skills and patience, it is not suitable for everybody. Maybe taking cuttings will be an easier way for the amateur gardeners to propagate roses.

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