Growing Roses From Cuttings

An easy way to make more of your favorite roses

Growing roses from cuttings mean to grow them on their own roots, but many rosarians believe roses must be budded to get the best out of them.

I think taking cuttings is an excellent way to get specimens from fellow gardeners or to make more of your favorite roses.

Although I do not recommend this method for most Hybrid Teas, growing roses from cuttings is a good way to propagate vigorous varieties such as Ramblers, Climbers, vigorous Floribundas and many Shrub roses. Weaker-growing rose types are best propagated by budding.

Own root roses, which we will get from cuttings, have some advantages to budded plants:

  • They do not produce suckers; all shoots are equal to the variety you grow
  • They show increased winter hardiness

Growing Roses From Cuttings: Taking Cuttings

Cuttings can be made in two ways:

  1. Semi-ripe cuttings
  2.  Hardwood cuttings

However, reading books, magazines or any recommendation about growing roses from cuttings the semi-ripe cutting is what they refer to. A higher proportion is likelier to succeed by this method than by hardwood cuttings.

Semi-ripe Cuttings

Take rose cuttings any time from late spring to late summer, when the wood is semi-ripe. What exactly does semi-ripe mean for selecting cuttings? It means to select a side shoot that is still green and turns woody at the base, but is still flexible.

Here is how to do it right:

  1. Select a side shoot (6-8 inches long) and cut it above an outward-facing bud. The shoot should be about the thickness of a pencil.
  2. Trim the cutting at the base at a very sharp angle, just below a leaf joint or a bud eye. Use only very sharp pruners
  3. Cut the soft tip (1/4 inch above a bud eye) and remove all the lower leaves and thorns (if any), leaving two or three leaflets at the top of the cutting.
  4. Carefully scrape off the bark 1 inch at the bottom of the cutting by scoring the bark on each side of the stick.
  5. Dip the base of the cutting about 1 inch in a liquid rooting hormone such as Dip n’ Grow, and tap off the excess
  6. Punch a hole and insert the cutting up to 2/3 of their length into a small peat pot with wet sterile rooting medium. Then gently firm the soil with your fingers. The rooting medium can be an inert mixture of peat and sharp sand.
  7. Spray the cutting with a solution of copper fungicide to kill off any fungal spores
  8. Make a misting tent for the cutting by simply misting the plant with water and placing a clear plastic bag with a few air holes over the pot. Support the bag with canes or wire hoops to prevent the bag from touching the leaves.

Done? Not at all.

The cuttings need special care until they have rooted. They need a warm and sunny place but no direct intense sunlight. Best would be a place with morning and afternoon sun but shadily at midday (north side of the house).

Cuttings have no roots. That’s why they need moisture through misting the leaves several times each day. If you forget to mist them, they will die.

Once the cuttings have rooted in 2-6 weeks or so, it is time to transplant into a larger pot.

  • Remove the plastic bag
  • Plant the whole set, peat pot and cutting into an 8-inch pot filled with organic potting soil. The peat pot must be completely buried.
  • Place the container slowly into the sun. A little longer each day for the next two weeks, until it gets sunlight for at least 6 hours a day.
  • Keep the young plant well watered and never let the soil dry out

When the plants start to grow and are about the same size as you would buy them in shops, it is time to plant them out. Use my guides for planting roses, to be sure how to do it right.

Hardwood Cuttings

Although it seems this method is not well known among gardeners, I think it is an easy way to propagate roses.

Sharp pruners would be the single equipment and it does not need special knowledge to perform hardwood cuttings. Aftercare is minimal as well. 

  • Cut pencil-thick canes from the rose in fall
  • Remove the soft tip above a bud eye.
  • Trim to a length of about 9 inches by cutting the base at a sharp angle below a leaf joint
  • Remove any leaves on the cane
  • Dip the base of the cutting about 1 inch in a liquid rooting hormone such as Dip n’ Grow
  • Place the cutting in a prepared trench, leaving 3 inches above the soil surface. Firm in and water the cutting well

The trench for hardwood cuttings should be 10-12 inches deep and filled to 1/3 of its depth with sharp sand.

The following fall the cuttings should be well rooted and can be transplanted. If not, allow them to grow on for another year. Use my guides to planting roses for that procedure.

One word to legality of growing roses from cuttings:

it is not allowed to grow patented roses without permission from the breeder. But you can grow older roses (older than about 20 years), old roses and species roses without permission.

› Growing Roses From Cuttings

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