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Four Fail-Proof Methods to Propagate Roses

At some point in your rose growing experiences you may wish to try your hand at experimenting with propagation to expand your rose collection. My first foray into plant propagation was about 35 years ago, when my older sister got married. She carried red stem  roses that were perfect as she was that day.  My grandmother told me that day to put her flowers in a vase of water for two weeks, than after that prepare a  the ground out of the sun, plant the rose stems and place an old aquarium on top of the stems and wait.  I planted in May and in November I had rose plants, and I was hooked on starting own my roses.

For the amateur gardener; propagation by division, cuttings, seeds or layering will produce some very satisfactory results. I have tried them all. Layering is by far the easiest, but only works well with certain types of roses such as climbers or Bourbon or Hybrid Musk roses.  From these four methods taking cuttings is a particularly easy and the quickest way to increase your rose stock.

How to propagate roses by cuttings

   Most roses that are purchased commercially have been bud grafted onto selected pre-prepared rootstocks. The plants that are created from cuttings are called own root roses because they grow on their own roots and are not grafted onto a rootstock. The roses that seem to root most easily are miniatures, ramblers and roses that are closely related to their species. Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are a bit more challenging to root but nonetheless you may be quite surprised at your success! The lengthy time period that it takes a Hybrid Tea to root is one reason they are not often found commercially on their own roots. I started a Hybrid Tea in February and it rooted fast and I planted it in the garden in May. In June it bloomed, here is a picture of the little bush.  


     The method for rooting cuttings is quite simple and has a good success rate.

In late summer or early autumn, select a healthy cane of approximately one to two feet in length and cut it off just above an outward facing bud.


Remove all leaves and twigs. You can also carefully remove all the thorns to make handling easier. Cut the remaining cane into lengths of 6 to 9 pieces with the bottom of each piece being as close to a leaf node as possible. For miniature roses you will only need 2”to 4”inch cuttings.


  At this point, you may wish to use a rooting hormone. You can either use one commercially available or you can make your own by chopping up willow twigs and soaking them in a bucket of water overnight. If you use willow water, then dip the ends of the cutting in the water and let sit overnight. I use cinnamon powder, it works well.


Plant each cutting in a separate little pot filled with good quality potting soil mixed with perlite, adding a bit of sand in the bottom of the hole for drainage. Make sure that at least 2/3 of the cutting is under the soil.

 Mist the cutting and the soil and place a plastic bag over the pot and secure. Keep you’re cutting outside, in a brightly lit but sheltered spot. Make sure that you protect your young plant from the direct heat of the sun. Check the pot periodically to make sure that your cutting is moist but not wet. Usually within a month your cutting will have taken root.


    Alternatively, you may plant the cuttings directly outside in the garden in a well prepared spot that is shielded from the midday sun. Place a glass jar or liter pop bottle on top of cuttings (greenhouse effect) buds should appear the following spring. If you are fortunate, they should be well rooted by the following autumn at which time you can carefully lift and replant them in its permanent location.


 For those that live in areas of severe winter weather, you may wish to experiment with softwood cuttings rather than hardwood cuttings. Using the same method as outlined above, simply choose a mature side shoot that is still green. Trim off all soft growth and cut into 4 pieces rather than 9 pieces. Softwood cuttings should be planted in plastic covered pots and kept in a frost-free environment until the following spring, when you can plant them outside.

How to propagate roses by Layering

Simple layering can be accomplished by bending a low growing, flexible stem to the ground. Cover part of it with soil, leaving the remaining 6 to 12 inches above the soil. Bend the tip into a vertical position and stake in place (Figure 1). The sharp bend will often induce rooting, but wounding the lower side of the bent branch may help also. Simple layering can be done on most plants with low-growing branches. Examples of plants propagated by simple layering include climbing roses, forsythia, rhododendron, honeysuckle, boxwood, azalea, and wax myrtle.

Simple layering can be done in early spring using a dormant branch, or in late summer using a mature branch. Periodically check for adequate moisture and for the formation of roots. It may take one or more seasons before the layer is ready to be removed for transplanting. Mine are usually ready in 6 months.

Tip layering is quite similar to simple layering. Dig a hole 3 to 4 inches deep. Insert the tip of a current season’s shoot and cover it with soil. The tip grows downward first, then bends sharply and grows upward. Roots form at the bend. The re-curved tip becomes a new plant (Figure 2). Remove the tip layer and plant it in late fall or early spring. Examples of plants propagated by tip layering include purple and black raspberries, and trailing blackberries.



Mound (stool) layering is useful with heavy-stemmed, closely branched shrubs and rootstocks of tree fruits. Cut the plant back to 1 inch above the soil surface in the dormant season. Dormant buds will produce new shoots in the spring. Mound soil over the new shoots as they grow (Figure 4). Roots will develop at the bases of the young shoots. Remove the layers in the dormant season. Mound layering works well on apple rootstocks, spirea, quince, daphne, magnolia, and cotoneaster.

Air Layering is one of the easiest, most carefree and effective method of propagating a rose.   I've been using this method on roses and when done correctly at the right time, you can achieve a 100% success. Though some roses take longer to root, most will root between 3 weeks to 8 weeks. Most of the ones I worked on rooted in 3 weeks and some took longer. The best time to air layer a rose is in springtime after its first bloom. That is when they are growing actively.  Rooting roses is much easier during their active growing season. Choose a succulent stem or cane from a healthy plant that has produced a flower. This is an indication that the stem is matured enough for rooting. Also important is pampering the mother plant you want to air layer to encourage a vigorous growth and speed up the rooting process.  After the rooting medium is filled with roots, sever the stem below the medium and pot the layer. The new plant will usually require some pampering until the root system becomes more developed. Provide shade and adequate moisture until the plant is well established

 Things you'll need: A sharp knife or razor blade (i use a box cutter knife), Twist ties"6X"6 transparent plastic sheet (A cut Ziploc plastic bag will do), Strapping Tape, Rootone Rooting Hormone w/ fungicide (optional), A small artists' brush (when using rooting hormone).


 How to Propagate Roses Using Potatoes

Pioneer women on the Oregon Trail took cuttings of their favorite rose plants, stuck into potatoes, across the plains to plant around their new homes They used a simple method of propagating roses that still works today. You can expand your rose garden by propagating cuttings.
Rose propagation using potatoes requires rose cuttings, 6- to 8-inch pieces of rose stem. The rose cuttings root well in the potato base because the potato provides moisture and nutrients to the newly growing roots. The rose may even enter into a symbiotic relationship with the potato: information on vegetative propagation from the University of North Dakota shows tomatoes grafted onto potatoes in which both plants thrive. Although a soft-wood rose cutting should not require it, you may dip the cutting in rooting hormone or a willow-wood infusion prior to inserting it into the potato.

Cut a piece of rose bush stem 6 to 8 inches long with a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears. This should be done in winter when the blooms have wilted and hips are forming. If collecting multiple cuttings, keep them in the shade until you are ready to begin the next step. Cut off the spent blooms, hips and lower leaves. Do not cut the nodes, or eyes, above the leaves. Fill the nursery pot 1/3 full with potting soil and place on a plate or drainage pan. Punch a hole 3 inches deep into a healthy potato using a screwdriver. Insert the bottom end of the cutting into the potato hole.
Place inside the nursery pot and cover with soil so that about 3 inches of the cutting sticks out.  Place in indirect sunlight and keep surrounding soil moist but well drained for two months. Transplant into a permanent place outdoors in the spring.

How to Propagate Roses Using Seeds

Propagating roses by seeds is very but takes rewarding  patience because it takes time to t methsee the fruitage of your loving labor.  So having said that I’m going to share with you the Judy fast method.  BUY YOUR SEEDS!  It is not worth your  time or effort to pollinate and harvest your own hips. 

When your seeds arrive- Place in a jar you have ready and soak in straight 3%Hydrogen peroxide solution for 6-12 hours. Place the jar in the refrigerator. 

In a 1-cup measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Fill cup the rest of the way with water.  Use this mixture to add moisture to the soil. Soil should be damp, if it's too wet it will rot the seeds. If it's too dry it will inhibit germination. Place soil in small trays. Remove seeds from refrigerator  and pot in soil mixture. Place each pot in a ziplock bag and refrigerate.   Wait 3 months.

 When looking for germination, you will see a single root-tip breaking through the seed. If you see lots of fuzzy little roots, it's mold (don't worry). There's a distinct difference.

If you need to add water to your planting mix, use the water-hydrogen peroxide mix.

Water the seedling with the water-hydrogen peroxide mixture, don't over/under water.

-You can lightly fertilize with a weak water-soluble fertilizer (Miracle grow type stuff) when they get their second leaves. 25% regular dose I think.

-Repeat blooming roses bloom after about 2 months. Once blooming roses bloom after about 2-3 years.


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