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Before my first Miniature rose 'Rubies 'n' Pearls' was introduced in 1992/93, I made dozens of own root cuttings of it for the first time. I was lucky to get 50 to 60% rooted. At the same time the local mini grower Select Roses introduced 'Rubies 'n' Pearls' in Canada. As he was getting 99 to 100% rooted I asked for his advise. Within a year I was doing just as well as he did, but with the primitive way under a tent in my basement, compared to mist propagation as all professional mini growers use. You can read all about the tips and tricks I learned from the Mini nursery in my article : "Cuttings from Cuttings, from Cuttings..." on my 'Articles page'.
About two years ago I was asked by many from the GardenWeb forum "Rose Propagation and Exchange", to explain and/or show my basement setup under grow lights for making own root roses. This was because many of them were not having much success in rooting and I was getting 99 to 100 percent rooted on my minis.
Please note: 90 percent of my own root roses are with miniatures which will root in 2 to 4 weeks. I have also tried a few MiniFloras, Floribundas and my Hybrid Tea 'Canadian White Star', but in general these are slower to root than minis and could take as long as 4 to 6 weeks. If a cutting, of any type of rose, will not root in 6 weeks under the right conditions, (eg, light, temperature etc.) I will not try it again and it has to be budded to an understock.
From March 1st to April 26th 2003, I took a series of 30 photos to show every step of the way, plus my equipment used & added comments/info for each image. Then in summer of 2003 I send it out to about 100 interested rosarians on GardenWeb.
Afterwards a number of related questions came up. See the Question and Answer addendum
Ed - The text on the left corresponds to the large thumbnail photo to the right. Click on each thumbnail to view the full size photo.
A stem ready to take 2 cuttings.
Showing flower buds when ready to start cuttings.
Long stems ready to start cuttings. New mini varieties under grow lights end of February. Long stems on left, middle with colour showing, and far right are ready for starting own root cuttings. Note: You don't have to wait for blooms to fully open or show colour. (See note in image #2)
Pots ready to stick cuttings into. These 2¼ inch square pots filled with "Sunshine Mix # 4" and watered, ready to stick cuttings into. NOTE: Use thoroughly cleaned or new pots, disinfect pruners and other tools. Mix #4 is a professional mix, which contains, peat moss, Perlite, PH adjuster and a wetting agent. Also the "best" for starting seeds, for growing seedlings etc. Don't pack mix in tightly, put in loose and water thoroughly.
Ready to go into dish-pan. Before sticking prepared cuttings into pots, dip into hormone rooting powder to a depth of approximately ¾ inch. Tap lightly to remove excess powder and stick cutting about 1 inch deep. Use powder for softwood or semi-hardwood. My powder contains fungicide to prevent rotting. The "best" you can buy is Rhizopon AA#3 powder (0.8% IBA in talc). Cuttings are now ready to go in dish pan and under lights. Basement temperature is 66 F.
Showing empty dish-pan. Boards in bottom of dish-pan have ¾ inch space underneath filled with ½ inch water.
Ready to put clear plastic cover on. Note misting (plain water) on leaves.
Plastic over the cuttings to keep them humid and temperature probe in pot without a cutting. Note the temperature is only 66 F but will be raised to 70 to 74 MAX with bottom heat in 8 to 10 hours.
After one hour under lights with bottom heat water evaporation starts.
12 hours later with temperature inside tent at maximum 72 F. Note the heavy condensation now.
After 11 days some top eyes are starting to grow already. Opened clear plastic cover only once after about a week. Notice how clean the foliage looks without any air circulation at all. Misted with plain water before plastic went back over.
After 18 days. Never opened cover since day 11. Some new shoots are already 3 to 4 inches long. Misted with water before cover went back on.
After 25 days they are ready to transplant to bigger pots. Some shoots are hitting the top cover.
After 25 days from different angle. Note the rhododendron names on tags. I am using discontinued Rhododendron tags and writing my notes, dates, varieties, etc. on back - marking pens will fade out in a few months while lead pencil will last for years.
Showing significant development of roots on day 25. The longer roots will be cut off before planting into one litre pots. If lots of roots, I cut ¼ inch off across the bottom with a knife.
Day 25 again. Close up to show new roots.
Transplanted into one litre (Yoghurt!) pots. After transplanting, a cut off 2 litre clear pop bottle goes over for 5 to 7 days. The bottle cap can be removed after 3 days.
Showing old 7.5 watt Christmas lights I use for bottom heat.
Only 18 days later and a fast rooting variety's roots are coming through the drain holes already. At one time a "super fast" rooter came through drain holes in only 12 days.
Root development after 18 days (same as #19). This one is ready fortransplanting. Long roots get cut back.
Yoghurt pots are much higher than regular pots. I found the regular pots were too low.
After 12 days, another fast rooter. Roots are almost down to bottom and cutting is ready to transplant into a one litre pot in 5 to 6 days.
Showing Christmas lights for bottom heat. If basement temperature is 68 to 70 F, only one bulb is turned on to start new cuttings. If the room temperature is 65 to 66 F, 2 bulbs are on. A dish-pan will fit over each cutout. I can lower the temperature 1 or 2 degrees by moving the dish-pan sideways one inch to let some heat escape through the top. Always keep temperature between 70 and 74 F.
Box with bottom heat. Box is 7 inches high to fit 12 one litre pots. Each of the 4 bulbs has an aluminum cover over the top to prevent any water from dripping onto the bulbs.
Transplanted cuttings ready to go under grow lights.
One litre pots now under lights with bottom heat. After one night, the temperature went up to 82 F. That was a bit high, so I turned off one bulb. Now temperature stays around 78 to 80 F. Once cuttings are rooted, higher temperature does not do any harm and makes them grow faster.
Side view. Front board open ¾ inch on bottom for air and to check on bulbs. With room temperature at 65 to 66 F, 4 lights are on. I monitor temperature at all times!
After 50 days new shoots are 12 inches high. See photo for explanatory text.
Showing two sets of double bottom heat boxes. The lower one with one regular light bulb socket in each is the first one I built. After experimenting with different wattages I found that a 7.5 watt regular light bulb (which is more expensive than brighter bulbs) was sufficient most of the time. Eventually, I got the idea of using faded-out outside Christmas lights (that had 7.5 watt bulbs) of which I had lots and were much cheaper. As you see in the upper box, I started with three lights. Three lights were too high for starting cuttings, but were OK after the cuttings had rooted and were transplanted. I now have a set up for 4 dish-pans side by side, 4 boxes in one with only 2 Christmas lights each - this just fits under a 4 foot double fluorescent light fixture.
56 days! Ready to take more "Cuttings from Cuttings". Look at Image #28 and see the size difference after only 6 days.
Why do I call my method the primitive way, when I am getting 99-100 percent rooted ?!
Actually, the only thing "primitive" is my dish-pans covered with clear plastic, compared to the nurseries using "Mist Propagation" for rooting roses. Everything else is done the "Professional Way" as I learned it from the local Mini Nursery.
What is "Sunshine Mix # 4" ?
I just got the latest update on Sunshine Mix # 4 . Mix #4 contains Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, perlite, major and minor nutrients, gypsum, dolomitic lime and a wetting agent.
I have been using this mix for over 10 years now. It is a professional mix and I use it for my own root cuttings and for germinating and planting my new rose-seedlings in.
Here is a link to the company's web-site where you can find a local supplier in your area - www.sungro.com
What kind of grow lights do you use? In the preview pic they are obviously fluorescent, but have you found one particular light to be better?
I am only using fluorescent lights, double and 4 lights per fixture, 4 feet long. There are 3 kinds of grow lights (4 foot tubes) I use:
G. E. , "GRO & SHO" ---Least expensive--- Not as bright as "GRO - LUX"
Sylvania, "GRO - LUX" - cost 7 to 9 Can. dollars.
G. E. "SUNSHINE" 'Full Spectrum Light'. It's the brightest I have seen, it has about 30% more light output! (checked it out with light meter) It's about the same cost as Gro-Lux.
In the greenhouses most growers use BIG high intensity single lights. These cost a lot! A single light is about 200-300 dollars or more, depending on size.
When is the "best" time to root cuttings ?
You can root any time of the year, as long as the basement temperature does not go above 72-73 F. The lights (3-5 inches above tent) add about 2-3 degrees to the temperature inside the tent. The temperature for rooting should not go above 75 F and 70 to 74 is ideal. Also, the lights are on a timer and are on from 7am to 11pm - 16 hrs.
I even made an attempt to root cuttings with 82 F. in my basement in fall of 1998. I had to put ice bags under my dish pans to cool things down. Read about it in my Article: "A New Sport Star"
What rooting Hormone do you use, powder or liquid ?
I am using a "softwood / semi hardwood" powder which contains a fungicide to prevent rotting. The BEST you can buy is Rhizopon AA#3 powder (0.8% IBA in talc). Several reports say that liquid is not as good.
I followed your directions to the letter, except I went out and purchased a thermostatically controlled heat mat instead of the lights. It measures 48" X 20", which is about what I needed. Is this just as good?
That is OK too, as long as the temperature in the pots does not go above 74/75 F .
Should I spray the cuttings with wilt-proof? Did not see that mentioned in your article. Will this help at all?
I never tried it. I just mist with plain water.
Can I take cuttings even if plant has not flowered yet? I have some new own root roses I purchased, that I would like to get some cuttings from.
Yes you can. Sometimes I have a blind shoot and if I've seen a bloom on that plant before, I take it except not the upper and softer 2 to 3 sets of leaves.
In image # 6, what are those rods around the dish-pan made of ?
These are 1/8" dia. stainless steel welding rods 6 inches long and 5½ inches above the rim. The top is bent over so it does not cut into the plastic cover. On the bottom I cut my own thread about ¾ of an inch long with a nut on bottom and washer and nut on top.
How long should it take to root cuttings of roses ?
About 90 percent of my own root roses are miniatures and they will root in 2 to 4 weeks. I have also tried a few MiniFloras, Floribundas and my HT 'Canadian White Star', but in general these are slower to root than minis and could take as long as 4 to 6 weeks. If a cutting of any type of rose will not root in 6 weeks under the right conditions, (eg, light, temperature, etc.) I will not bother to try it again. It then has to be budded to an understock.
Cutting with giant callus but no roots, any advice?
I learned about this problem the hard way some years ago from my friend the local mini grower Select Roses here in BC, Canada.
Before I had probes to monitor temperatures at all times, I had some cuttings with calluses from 1/4 to 3/8 inch dia but no roots after 4 to 5 weeks.
Remember, when the temperature is too high you will only get a blob of callus and no roots. This happens when the temperature goes above 76 F. The ideal temperature for rooting is between 70 and 74 F.
Read my two articles on my web-site about the subject: "Cuttings, from Cuttings from Cuttings" and "A New Sport Star".
Can I root cuttings with leaves that have a bit of mildew or blackspot?
These may lose all the foliage in a week or two. You could take a chance, but I never ever use cuttings with infected leaves. Foliage has to be "perfectly clean" for me! Look at images # 5 and #11 through #14 and see how healthy these look.
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George Mander uses photographs to illustrate step by step his much refined approach for successful root cuttings. The article is wonderfully concise and includes a follow up question and answer addendum.