Here are some basic guidelines for growing a new rose from a cutting. This is only one way to propagate roses.
- The Cutting: Select a cane that has a flower on it or has already flowered. Start with at least 8 or 10 cuttings, so that you have the best odds. Collecting the right kind of cuttings is essential. Please look in the Photo tab to see photos of cuttings. Cut a stem long enough to at least 6 bud eyes. Retain the top two sets of leaflets and remove all the leaves below.
- Timing: June - August is a good time to root cuttings, assuming you live in a mild winter climate (USDA hardiness zone 7 and above). Roots grow really well from August through October. October - December is a good time to collect "hardwood cuttings."
- Container: Select a somewhat taller than wide container to hold potting soil as a rooting medium. If you don't have quart nursery containers, a quart milk carton, top cut off, holes punched in the bottom, would be fine. A water bottle, top cut off, is also fine and has the benefit of making the roots visible once they form. One cutting to one container is best.
- The soil: The soil you plant your cutting in should be on the light side to permit new roots to develop easily. Depending upon your type of soil, you can amend it with sand, vermiculite or perlite. Good quality potting soil is fine.Do not use a potting soil with fertilizer added. Dampen the soil well before putting it in the container. Water the container to make sure it drains well.
- Rooting Gel: Following label directions, apply rooting powder, gel or solution to the bottom of the cutting. Many roses root easily without rooting compound.
- Location: Some gardeners actually plant ("stick") their cuttings out of direct sunlight below other roses in garden soil, then place a large clear glass jar on top until growth appears, and transplant after about 8 to 10 months. Others use pots over which they've placed a large plastic baggie, a Rubbermaid clear container, or a clear water or soda bottle. The clear glass jar or large plastic baggie acts as a greenhouse. Filtered light under an awning, shade cloth or tree but where the air temperature is hot is ideal. You are not growing leaves, so a lot of light is not necessary. Heat and humidity are key. Some early morning or late afternoon sun is fine. It is very important to keep the cuttings out of direct mid-day sunlight. They need some light, yes, but not direct sunlight.
- Fungal Disease: Applying a fungicide before covering the cutting reduces the chance of disease if fungal disease is common in your climate.
- Monitor The Cuttings While They Root: Make sure the soil stays moist but not swampy. Maintain the soil and leaf moisture level of your cuttings. You want to support the little cutting long enough for it to root, usually within 3 weeks to as long as 3 months. It doesn't matter if the leaves drop off, so long as the cutting itself is green. Remove fallen leaves. The most common mistake is to interpret new growth on the cutting as an indication that it has rooted. You must see roots to know you have roots.
- Harden Off: After new growth appears and there is plenty of root development, start to "harden off" the rooted cutting. Hardening refers to acclimating the cutting to normal outside conditions. Remove the clear glass jar or large plastic baggie for longer periods of time each day over the course of a week.
- Repot: After a few weeks, the plant ought to be able to stand on its own without the benefit of the greenhouse cover. At that point repot into a 1 gallon container in the same potting mix. Do not disturb the roots when you repot. Protect the plant while it establishes in the new pot.
- First fertilizer and Transplant: Assuming your cutting is repotted by September and you live in a mild winter climate, apply a highly dilute liquid, water-soluble fertilizer. I use a dilution with 4 times the recommended water. You don't need to fertilize more than once this year. Your young plant is as winter hardy as the mother plant, but in a container, it is susceptible to freezing where temperature drop below 18 degrees. Do not bring the plant inside; instead, place it in a sheltered location to overwinter. That means a south facing wall of the house. Check the soil to make sure the pot doesn't dry out. When your plant is at least 12 inches tall and vigorous in the pot, it is time to plant in the garden.
[From The Practical Book of Outdoor Rose Growing
, by George C. Thomas, Jr., p. 17:] Cuttings are slips taken from plants which, when placed in sand and soil, grow roots of their own and become in turn rose plants giving the same bloom as the plants from which they were cut... [Thomas goes on to say that propagation by cuttings is not as satisfactory a method as budding because
] many of our new varieties are weak growers and cannot of their own accord win the fight for existence, even under favorable conditions. As conditions in our climate are most uncertain only the exceptionally hardy plant succeeds of itself on its own roots.
[From Roses: A Care Manual, by Amanda Beales, pp. 56-57: Hardwood cuttings can be taken in autumn and should be the thickness and length of a pencil...] Find an area of the garden that is sheltered but not waterlogged, and dig a trench deep enough to accomodate about half the length of the cutting... [Softwood cuttings can be taken during the summer months:] Remove all foliage except the two uppermost leaflets... Dip the bottom of the cuttings in hormone rooting powder and place them in a pot filled with a mixture of half soil and sand, or a soil substitute such as perlite.... Water well and cover with a plastic bag...