How to Propagate Roses by Cuttings!

Rose Cuttings, Oct/Nov 2014

Rose Cuttings, Oct/Nov 2014

With the dreary days of late Fall here in zone 8b, it is time to propagate roses by making cuttings. With 14 different heirloom roses, I picked a few of my favorites — and my mother gave me one of hers — for propagation by cuttings.

Basic Steps I use:

1. Select a time to make cuttings.

I find that mid-Autumn or early Spring are the two best times and Autumn cuttings often result in greater success for me. (Some Springs become hot very quickly, we’ve reached temperatures of 100 degrees F as early as late April.)

2. Plan the process — including a location for observing and maintaining the cuttings.

I put the cuttings in a window sill, facing East or South East for “indirect” morning light (sunshine not just beating down on the cuttings). Collect the supplies needed:

  • small pots,
  • potting medium (I use a mixture of vermiculite, peat, and pearlite (about 1/3 of each), and
  • canning jars (these make the “best” greenhouses for the developing cuttings — I don’t use plastic because I’ve seen a lot of mildew and rotting from too much moisture trapped in the “greenhouse”).

3. Prepare the potting mixture.

Add potting ingredients together, mix until the particles are uniformly distributed throughout.

  • Place a coffee filter (or a small piece of newspaper) into the bottom of the pot to prevent the soil mixture from leaching out, then add the potting mixture.
  • Pour water (rain water if you have some collected) into the soil until it is completely moist (water should emerge from the bottom of the pots.
  • Allow the pots to set for about 30 minutes to an hour, then place a a container beneath the pot to collect additional water emerging from the potting mixture. (I use small “salad” bowls collected from restaurant take out food  — these can be stored in the potting shed, or garage, after use and then cleaned and re-used several more times.)
  • Use a wooden dowl (or anything with about a 1/4 inch diameter–a wooden pencil works great) to press 3 holes into the soil (for channels to hold rose cuttings).

4. Select a rose cutting.

  • Find a stem that is about 1/4 inch in diameter (about the thickness of a wooden pencil) — that has a spent flower bud or a new flower bud at the tip — and cut it about 6 to 8 inches long (less for smaller roses like miniatures).

5. Preparing the cuttings for potting.

  • Re-cut the bottom of the cutting at an angle, then dip into rooting hormone and place in one of the pre-created holes (from step 3) in the potting mix.
  • Press the potting mix around the newly planted cuttings.
  • Place a canning jar over the cutting set and monitor for growth or non-growth (note:  if leaves appear to be wilting, check the bottom of the cutting, if the stem consists of dead-brown tissue above ground, that cutting may not be good. Watch it for a day or two, if the brown continues progressing up the stem, pull that one out.

6. Monitor for growth over winter.

  • Pull out dead stems as the brown moves above the soil level.
  • Water as needed (when the soil is drying out) but do not over-water (the potting mixture should not be saturated with water).
  • NOTE:  this potting mixture should not hold water to the saturation point for more than a few hours. It should drain very easily, just keep an eye on the process because soil saturated with water will not support plant growth and development.

I don’t transplant the roses until I know there is good, solid root growth. That will become evident as the plant adds above ground tissue (leaves, and eventually additional stems). Then I mix the potting mixture 50/50 with good garden soil and place the pots outside — watch for freezes and frosts, a protected area (covered porch or garage with window, or greenhouse) is best.


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