Monday, June 13, 2011

Propagate When the Petals Fall

'Tis the season ... propagation season, that is.  As soon as the roses in the garden finish their first flush of bloom, the time is perfect to take cuttings and get started producing next year's crop of roses for the nursery.

The process of rooting roses is anything but a SURE thing.  Even if everything comes together perfectly, it's still up to Mother Nature to provide the conditions necessary for a piece of a rose stem to produce roots and become a new plant.  I am always looking for ways to improve my odds.

There is a rosarian and rose breeder that I respect who is promoting a new way of propagating that seems to show great promise.  (You can read about it and see his photos on his blog HERE.)  The whole idea is to jump-start callousing and rooting by wrapping the prepared cuttings in damp newspaper and letting them sit in cool indoor conditions for two weeks.  I'm intrigued, and I'm giving it a try.

I am taking my cuttings as I usually do, except with this method I removed all of the leaves from the cuttings.  The leaves could be a source of rot while the cuttings are wrapped up ... and rotting is the NOT the objective here.

Here are 20 bundles of cuttings, standing in a couple of inches of water in my trusty dollar-store bucket.

The first thing I like about this method is that, because there is no potting soil involved at this point, I can work with the cuttings in the kitchen.  I am usually sitting outside with little pots of soil, preparing cuttings at a table in the shade.

Each variety of rose is bundled with a tag and held with a rubberband.

I use an exacto knife to shave small slices off each side of the bottom part of the cutting.  This reminds me of carefully peeling asparagus.  I immediately dip the cutting into rooting hormone ... my choice of rooting hormone right now is Hormodin #2.

Notice how the tag is still with the cuttings.

When I have sliced and dipped every cutting in a bundle, I wrap the cuttings and their tag in damp newspaper.  (If I lose the tag, the cuttings are worthless.)  The resulting packet looks a lot like a burrito. 

Here is a pile of packets stacked in the sink.

The packets go into a gallon zipper bag, marked with today's date, and the bag is now sitting on the mantel in the game room in our basement.  My instructions say to keep the packets in a place where the temperature stays in the 60s ... and our basement is the place. 

This is one of four bags of packets that I have produced over the past two days, with 70 varieties so far.

I'm now supposed to leave the packets alone for two weeks.  During that time, the cuttings are supposed to callous (a precursor to rooting) and some of them may even begin to make tiny roots.  I don't know if I have the courage to risk ALL of my cuttings on a new process like this.  As of now, I will let the cuttings rest in their packets for a couple of days ... then I think I will pot up half of them and put them on the mist table in the greenhouse.

I will post updates and photos at each stage of this experiment.  I can't wait to see what happens.


  1. Connie, I'll be very interested in how yours do. Mine didn't do too well. I'm going to try rooting hormone gel next time instead of powder.

  2. neat! can't wait to see how the little burritos do!


  3. I'd be hard pressed to find anything sixty degrees around here. (Unless it was a walk-in cooler) Good luck with the cuttings!

  4. Well I hope you are pleasantly surprised.. that's a lot of work. Very interesting, I didn't know how this was done at all -

  5. Sounds interesting! I hope this new process works! I can't wait to see the results!

  6. Connie, I'm going to try it too; I'm tired of my "milk jug, 30%" take method....again this year, 6 cuttings of 'Freckles' yielded two plants. How necessary do you think the rooting hormone is?

  7. Fascinating! It makes me appreciate being able to go to someone like you and buy them already potted and growing!!!

  8. Big dreams and a small budget have me looking into plant propagation and rooting methods. Can't wait to see how this does for you!

  9. I've decided to give this a try this year. May need to wait a bit, as even inside with the a/c on, it's almost 80. I'll be watching to see how yours fare.

  10. I have never propogated a rose in my life...but I think that maybe I will try this next year. This year I am just getting some rose bushes planted for the first time at this house! Thanks for the tutorial and I hope the new method works great! xo Diana

  11. This is interesting. I might just have to give this method a try! Propogation is always a hit and miss thing for me with my roses. Anything new is worth a try. I will be interested to see how your batches turn out.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  12. Oh, I am intrigued!
    I love helping nature along and getting brand new rose plants.
    I usually do cuttings in the winter when there's nothing to do outside, but I want to try this!
    Thanks, Connie!
    (So glad that it looks like you're all better. We had a bad 'flu through here in February; I had a fever of 103.8. It took weeks for us to get back to normal.)

  13. Oh, please post when your "burritos" start growing! I didn't know any of this, and I LOVE plants.

    I'll be watching!

    Thanks for coming by and visiting my post "Love Someone" - your words blessed me tremendously.

  14. So interesting, Connie! I learned something new today! Can hardly wait to see what magic happens in the baggie! :) My 'White Caps' are planted and are doing the happy dance in our garden now. I'm looking forward to year #3 when I know they'll be clambering up and over the trellis and our porch railing! ♥

    xoxo laurie

  15. Wow, this looks easy enough for me to do! I have 2 beautiful rose bushes that I adore that I would love to propagate. Thanks for a great tutorial! Have a great weekend!


  16. I am very new to gardening and just started my first "batch" of cuttings about a month ago. I used a bunch of different methods--in water, in baggies, potted--but my "burritos" have done the best. At first I thought there was something wrong with them, but then looked online and realized that I was seeing lovely callouses!

  17. Wow... I can't wait to see what happens! That seems like a cool process. I hope it all works out well.


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