The scent of freshly bloomed roses are as intoxicating as its petals are exquisite. When well taken care of, this beautiful and hardy shrub will reward you with flowers from spring until fall. If you love your current rose bush, you may be looking for ways to propagate it. Propagating roses from cuttings is an easy process, but it takes time before you have an established bush.
This guide will walk you through how to grow roses from cuttings.
Before you propagate roses, you’ll need some tools, including:
- Thick gloves (preferably gauntlet-style)
- Pruning shears
- Pots or garden bed
- Sandy soil
- Hormone rooting powder (optional)
- Soil additives (optional)
Important Note: Before you begin, check that there isn’t a plant patent on your rose bush. If you propagate a rose still under patent, it is illegal if you don’t pay a royalty fee to the patent owner first. This patent is often displayed on the original packaging and supplier websites.
When to Take Rose Cuttings
You can try to grow roses from cuttings any time of the year, but depending on your climate, you will likely have the most success in the cooler months. Softwood cuttings, snipped from young growth, taken during spring or summer are faster rooting but may have difficulty establishing in the extreme summer heat.
Hardwood cuttings are taken from mature parts of the plant; They take longer to form but are more likely to develop strong roots throughout the winter. The best time to take rose cuttings is in the fall after the leaves have dropped.
Step One: Cut
Put on a pair of thick, gauntlet-style gloves before handling roses. The thorns (technically, prickles) on the stems are sharp and can easily puncture through thin gloves and skin. Take your cuttings from an established rose bush. Select new growth branches that are as thick as a pencil.
When you look at your rose bush, you will notice the young flexible softwood at the top, and then the older hardwood further down the branch. Using pruning shears, cut straight across below a thorn of the past season’s growth. Each cutting should include approximately five nodes and be 6 to 8-inches in length. You may get more than one cutting from a single branch.
Now, cut the bottoms straight and the tops at a 45-degree angle. Don’t forget which way is up, as roses won’t root upside down. Making this mistake could cost you all your hard work.
Next, place the bottom of the cuttings in water, or wrap them in a wet paper towel until you are ready to plant. You can store them this way for several days, but you do not want to let your cuttings dry out.
Remove any leaves and discard a few inches from the top of each branch. If you take softwood cuttings, foliage can remain on the upper portion. For hardwood cuttings, removing them may reduce the chance of fungal infection.
Step Two: Plant
Prepare the soil media for planting using sandy soil. Roses prefer well-draining soil but benefit from soil additives such as peat or composted materials.
Although rooting hormone is optional, it will significantly increase your success rate with roses. Pre-dibble holes in the soil media with a pencil. Dip the bottom inch of each stem in rooting hormone and tap any excess powder before burying each branch about halfway into the soil medium. Water thoroughly before planting if you use rooting hormone, as water can wash away the powder.
You can plant your cuttings in a pot or a garden bed. If you plant them outside, pick a location that receives lots of light but not too much afternoon sun. Protection, such as cold frames, is necessary if you live in a cooler climate and decide to grow your rose cuttings outside. Unheated garages are also a perfect location for propagating roses in pots over winter.
Place the cuttings about 8 inches apart to allow room for the roots to grow. This will also help to prevent damage during transplanting. Firm the soil carefully around each cutting, so there are no air pockets around the stems. If you didn’t use rooting hormone, now is the time to water thoroughly.
Step Three: Care
Keep the soil consistently moist and monitor your rose cuttings as they root. Depending on when and where you planted your cuttings, growth will vary. Softwood cuttings may form leaves in a few weeks, but hardwood cuttings won’t produce new leaves until the following spring.
Flowers may not form until the second year — Be patient! If you overwintered your roses in pots in the garage, move them outside in the spring once heavy frosts have passed.
Thin out in mid-summer by discarding any cuttings that didn’t develop enough new leaf growth.
Step Four: Transplant
Plants should be ready for transplanting the following fall, or you can wait until the following spring if you prefer. Prune back any tall shoots before moving the plant. This will protect them from wind damage while establishing their permanent location.
If you’ve planted your cuttings in a garden bed, use a shovel to dig up each plant carefully, being mindful not to damage the roots. For potted plants, use a small spade, or tip the pot to gently dislodge the cuttings. Plant in a location with well-draining soil that receives at least four hours of direct sunlight daily. Suppose you live in a cooler climate: mulch before the winter months to protect the plant.
Shear a Rose
Growing roses from cuttings is a long process, but in the end, you’ll have new rose bushes for your garden or to share. Be sure to water your newly transplanted roses well and start a fertilizer routine the following spring. If you’re looking for another way to propagate roses, air layering may be the answer.
Have you tried growing roses from cuttings? Share your experiences in the comments below!