(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.