Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Root Roses from Cuttings

I have tried just about every method out there to propagate roses from cuttings.  This process, as taught to me by my friend Diana Klassy in 2007, is the easiest and most reliable one for me.  It's simple to understand, and it uses materials that you may already have on hand or can easily obtain.

(This isn't only for roses.  I have rooted new plants of lilac, azalea, hydrangea, and figs using this method.  Any plant that can root from cuttings is a candidate.) 



Are you ready? 

Gather your supplies:  You will need a half-gallon milk or juice jug, a clear 2-liter soda bottle, good-quality potting media, rooting hormone, pruners, and a sharp utility knife. 



You will be using the bottom of the milk jug as a pot, and the top of the soda bottle to form a greenhouse.





Cut large drainage holes in the bottom of the milk jug, and fill it with moist potting media.





The best cutting for most roses is a stem with a dead flower on it, with four to six sets of leaves.



If possible, get the heel wood where the stem emerges from the main cane.



If you cannot get a heel, cut below a leaf bud.



Cut off the dead flower and remove all but two sets of leaves from your cutting.





With the sharp utility knife, score the end of the cutting on two or three sides ... cutting only through the outer layer.





Dip the scored cutting into rooting hormone.  Dampen the cutting if you are using powdered rooting hormone.



Make a hole in the potting media.  Insert the cutting and water thoroughly.  You can place more than one cutting into each container ... I don't recommend putting in more than three.



Cover the cutting with the soda bottle top, maneuvering the bottle a little bit so that it fits inside the rim of the milk jug pot.  Be careful not to dislodge the cutting.



Now comes the most difficult part of this process ... place the container with your cutting in a safe shaded location and LEAVE IT ALONE.  (You only need to check on it once a week or so.)  In the fall, I put cuttings in my north-facing basement workshop window with a fluorescent shop light for supplemental lighting.  For cuttings in spring and summer, I place my containers underneath an azalea bush in my side yard shade garden. 

Make certain that your cuttings receive no direct sunlight at this stage or the inside of the bottle will overheat and your cuttings will die.  You don't need to water your cutting ... as long as there is condensation inside the soda bottle, you're fine.  More cuttings die from overwatering than anything else.



Cuttings can produce roots in as soon as four weeks, or as many as eight, ten, or more weeks.  Since roots are visible through the translucent milk jug, there is no need to pull cuttings to check their progress.  Remove any leaves that may fall ... don't worry, the cutting can still root without leaves.  As long as the stem is green, the cutting is alive.





When the cutting is showing strong roots, and it begins to sprout new leaves, start to harden off your new rose by removing the screw top of the soda bottle.  After a week or two without the lid, remove the soda bottle and begin to gradually acclimate your rose to a sunnier environment.



This is an extreme example of strong new growth shooting up and out the top of the soda bottle while I was busy with other things and didn't notice that it was time to remove the bottle.


At this point, if you have only one cutting in your milk jug pot, you can leave your new rose growing there without the bottle until it has a strong root system and the root ball can hold together for transplanting.  If you have more than one cutting, carefully tip the contents of the pot out and tease the plants apart ... trying your best not to damage any of the fragile new roots ... and put each new rose into its own pot.





That's all there is to it!  Rooting roses is not rocket science.  If you start with quality cuttings taken at the right time from a well-watered mother plant, your chances of success increase dramatically.  

Some roses root very readily from cuttings, and some are down-right impossible ... sometimes the only way to find out is to give it a try.

 If you have any questions, you can leave them in a comment, or you can contact me directly via EMAIL.


48 comments:

  1. Great tutorial in rooting! Easy to do, understand and photos to show you step by step. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Excellent tutorial! Now, if I just didn't have black thumbs!

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  3. Thank You for posting!

    You stated about cutting at the right time. When is the right time?

    Regina

    rgdquilts@yahoo.com

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  4. I have been rooting cuttings like this for years but reading your post, I realize how slap dash I am!
    Thank you for clear instructions.

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  5. I'm posting here and sending Regina a personal reply to her question.

    The 'right time' would be when your intended mother plant rose has bloomed and the flowers have faded. Remember, the best cuttings for me have been piece of stem with a dead flower on it. It can be first flowering, summer flowers, or fall flush.

    Some roses root best early in the year, others are more likely to root in the fall. A few will root anytime, and some will stubbornly refuse to root (Albas have been this way for me.) Sometimes you just have to experiment with different timing if your first attempt fails.

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  6. Fantastic tutorial! Thanks, Connie. You make it sound/look so easy. I just need to gather the supplies and then I want to try this myself. It will be a small miracle to me if I'm able to pull it off, and if/when I do I'll be back to let you know! :o)

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  7. Thankyou so much for this wonderful tutorial on the roses!! I'm going to try it right now and also tomorrow! Just wanted to know , when planting azalea cuttings, do you use hardwood cuttings, or tip cuttings?

    Thankyou
    Louise

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  8. This is a great tutorial. Now I need to find jugs and containers. :-)

    FlowerLady

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  9. Oh I am so glad I found this post! I read it when you originally posted it and remember thinking at the time that this is something I need to bookmark & well....never did.
    I'm possibly moving from CT to NC & have a few roses that I really want to take cuttings of, with me. None of them have bloomed yet though, they have just now shown new buds. Do you think it'll really hinder the process if the cutting doesn't have a dead flower?
    Should I do this entire process before I move Connie, or maybe wrap the stems in moist newspaper and plant when I arrive in NC?
    Thanks for all your advice!

    ~Meabh

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  10. My grandma has a seven sisters pink rose bush from my great great grandmas boarding house that I wanted to bring alive at my house! Thanks for posting!

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  11. TQ so much for sharing this knowledge,

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  12. Fantastci tutorial. Now to put to practice. Thanks.

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  13. Hi! I propagated some rises from my wedding boquet two days ago. (Wedding was 7/18) I looked at them and most of the starts have white fuzzy mold on them. Should I do anything?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Suzanne, mold and decay are the worst enemy of cuttings. If these were my cuttings, I would remove the moldy leaves. With my own cuttings, some leaves usually turn yellow and fall off. If left in the container, these fallen leaves would mold and endanger the rest of the cuttings. As long as the stems at the soil line are green, there is hope.

      With florist roses, which I am assuming is where your wedding roses came from, you may or may not be successful with rooting them. Many florist roses are from plants specially developed to live in greenhouses and produce long stems and classic rose-form flowers. Some do well in the garden, others won't.

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    2. One more thing ... I just notices the dates in your comment. Your wedding flowers were three weeks old when you planted them, and that may have been too long.

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  14. I did this. When the cutting bloomed the next year it was not the rose I expected. It reverted to the root stock.

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    Replies
    1. I have done this twice ... what you probably did was accidentally take cuttings from a rootstock sucker on the plant, because an own-root cutting is what it is ... an exact clone copy of the piece of the plant where the cutting was taken. There's nothing for it to revert to.

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  15. great tutorial. May I reblog this in my blog? Translated in Indonesian language but using your picture?

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    Replies
    1. You may reblog these directions, as long as it is clear where the original content came from, and please include a link to this post.

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  16. Walmart sells a large bunch of mixed colored roses. I wonder if they would work. I need to get they while they are still fresh.

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    1. Florist roses, like the ones you are talking about, are a whole different category of roses. They are specially bred to be grown in enormous greenhouses, mostly in South and Central America, treated with all sorts of chemicals to make them perfect, and they may or may not be suitable for outdoor culture in your climate. With this in mind, there's no harm in trying to root them, but don't expect too much.

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  17. Super tutorial, thank you...... I will definitely give it a go!

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  18. Thank you. I saw a rose I want to try to root today!

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  19. Hi Connie, Really great tutorial. I appreciate the visuals. Do you use any Vitamin B-1 to help with root development? If so, at what stage of the cuttings growth do you apply it? Natalie

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    Replies
    1. What you see here is exactly what I do ... nothing added after planting the cuttings. The part of the tutorial where I said that waiting for roots is the hardest part of the process? That's what I do ... I wait. There are all sorts of suggestions out there for how to propagate plants (not just roses) from cuttings. For me, simpler has turned out to be the best way.

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  20. How important is it to include the root hormone?

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    1. Rooting hormone significantly increases your chance of success. Propagating any plant is like a race between Rooting and Rotting ... you want to give your cuttings the best chance to produce roots in the shortest amount of time.

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  21. Hi Connie,
    After they're showing roots and go into the 4" pot, how long do the they stay in the 4" pots? Where do they go from 4"? to one gallon? How long will they stay in the one gallon? How soon (years wise) can they planted into the ground?
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!! LOVE your blog! Teresa

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    Replies
    1. There's no definite answer to any of this, but I'll give you something to go by. I transplant into a larger pot when the cuttings are growing well and have rooted nicely into the media of their little 4" pots (forming a rootball that will sort of hold together if you carefully tip it out of the pot). This interval can vary from rose to rose. I go to a half gallon pot next (6x6x6), because that's what I used to ship when I had the nursery ... takes up less bench space when you have hundreds of them and it's cheaper to ship to customers. A one-gallon is perfect, too, at this stage.

      For determining when to plant baby roses in the ground, I tend to lean toward planting them sooner rather than later. Roses don't do as well for me in pots as they do in the garden. (You're going to get a lot of different opinions on this.) With roses that are particularly vigorous, I have been known to transplant straight to the garden from the 4" pot if the rose has decent roots and is growing well. I don't like the stress of worrying about roses in pots, no matter what size pot, through hot summers or the freezing temps of winter. For the past few years, my pots have spent the winter in our unheated, attached garage (which stays above freezing). In general, I think you can plan on having a garden-ready plant within a year or less from the time you stick the cuttings.

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  22. cannot wait to try this with my David Austin roses....love love love the old fashioned rose that smells like heaven!!

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  23. My paternal grandmother used to snip roses off bushes she liked and stick them in her back yard, "greenhoused" under widemouth quart canning jars, and they rooted and grew. I stuck a bunch of fantail willow cuttings under jars last fall and they've started leafing out this month, still under the jars. Now that we're past most of the frigid weather, I'll go pull the jars off and let them grow crazy! Your method is good for starting cuttings indoors, and the clear 2-liter bottle "greenhouses" should work just as well in a raised bed full of good potting soil or compost, as long as it's in the shade. I just don't drink a lot of pop, so I seldom have bottles, but do have a lot of canning jars! They also don't blow away as easily as plastic bottles.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Susan. Gotta love grandmothers and their canning jars! I'll let you in on a secret ... we don't drink soda hardly ever, so I had to scrounge my bottles wherever I could. I let it be known to friends to save their bottles for me, and i have been known to raid the recycling bin at the landfill. Got a lot of my milk jugs that way, too.

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  24. Excellent tutorial. I will be selling my house soon and moving to another state but I hated to leave all my beautiful roses I have been growing and my 50 yr old hydrangea. Now I can try rooting and hopefully be able to take some with me

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  25. Harwood Roses, I just noticed that you are in Virginia. That is where I will be moving to. Is it possible to visit your gardens and if so, where in Va. are you located

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    1. I'm just north of Fredericksburg. When you are settled and want to come see the gardens, email me and we can make arrangements. connie@hartwoodroses.com

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  26. Thank you so much for the handy instructions, I will give this another try this summer. Just a stupid question about roses, to settle an argument, the rainbow roses that are sold at the florist, is there such a thing naturally or are they always dyed to produce the rainbow effect?

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    Replies
    1. The rainbow roses are dyed ... and blue and true violet roses are photoshopped.

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  27. Nice! You should put it on Instructables.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion ... but I don't think so. This post is available via any type of web search already. I'm not really interested in offering my content to generate ad revenue for someone else.

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  28. how about knock out Roses?

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    1. Knock Out is protected under Plant Patent PP11,836, which makes it illegal for anyone to propagate it without a license from the patent holder, whether for one's own use or for sale. Patents protect the rights of the patent holder, and we must respect that. A plant patent runs from the date of issue till 20 years from the date of application. For Knock Out, the term expires on January 13, 2019.

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  29. How soon does a cutting need to be planted into soil? Obviously the sooner the better but I'm wondering if my best friend could mail me a cutting (from ok to nv) and we could have the same roses. If you think it's possible what would be the best way to package them for mailing?

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    1. Renee, I send and receive cuttings through the mail from time to time. Here in VA, now (the tail end of spring bloom season) is a good time to send cuttings. I bundle my cuttings by wrapping them like a burrito in wet paper towels. I put the bundles into a plastic bag, then I wrap the bag in newspaper. I uses USPS Priority Mail, mailing the package early in the week. The cuttings usually arrive safely. When cuttings arrive, I immediately unpack them, check to see if they're in good shape and that the packaging material is still damp. If I can't plant them right away, I put them into the crisper in the fridge.

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  30. This tutorial is very helpful but I've been having some trouble - specifically, that my cuttings start to rot/develop mold from the top down. This happened with the first batch I tried and I had to throw them all away. The second time, I got better cuttings to work with, and I have been keeping a close eye on them. On one of the cuttings, the top of the cut stem started turning brown, and today I just noticed it is developing mold on some of the leaves and on the top of the cut stem, and the brown discoloration has spread about 1-2 inches down from the top. What can I do to prevent the mold? Should I cut off the moldy leaves and the brown stem? I have taken the tops off the soda bottles for now to reduce some of the moisture. I haven't watered them since I planted the cuttings about a week ago. I have them placed in the corner of a room where they get ambient, but not direct sunlight. I really want these ones to work because I won't be able to take any more cuttings from the rose bushes I have (the plants were not well-maintained by the previous owner of our property, so they are leggy, not producing many flowers or the flowering stems have no leaves, and they had to be pruned back quite a bit).

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    1. Do you know what rose/roses that you're dealing with? On the surface, it sounds as if the soil is too wet, but that's just a guess. Cuttings usually fail from the bottom up, but top down isn't uncommon. I'm wondering if the fact that the plants were poorly maintained and stressed is a factor? As a rule, cuttings with best results come from healthy, well watered mother plants. Next year, or maybe this fall, once the roses have recovered from their pruning, you can give it another go.

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    2. Thanks for the reply! I'm not quite sure what kind of roses they are as I'm still learning about types of roses. They might be Grandifloras? Both had flowers that looked like Grandifloras, one was a medium-light pink and very fragrant, the other white but much less fragrant, both had pretty sturdy roots/branches coming from the base. The plants I took the cuttings from seem healthy, they've just grown kind of funky due to lack of proper pruning, so there aren't a lot of branches with good cutting candidates. But maybe they aren't healthy enough for the cuttings to do well.

      For now I took off the bottle tops so that they aren't exposed to too much moisture. The cutting that had the most top rot has now lost all its leaves, but the base is still green, so I'm hoping it can recover.

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