How to propagate roses from cuttings

How to propagate roses from cuttings

You know how sometimes you have a plant that just seems to do exceptionally well in your garden? Or you fall in love with a neighbor’s rose bush? Or maybe a rose you love is entering its senior years?

That’s the perfect time to take a cutting.
Propagation by stem cutting lets you recreate a clone of a plant you love. That means you can have two, three, four, or maybe more of that perfect floribunda that you just can’t get enough of.

Now, for the bad news: Probably only about 50 to 75 percent of your cuttings will take.
Rose lovers are constantly trying to figure out how to improve the chances that their starts will succeed, and we can benefit from all their hard work and experience. But still, even the best rose growers seem to be stuck around this success rate, for the most part.

Don’t despair! It’s no big deal, this just means you should probably plant a few extras so that you have more than you want. And if more take off than you expect, they make a lovely gift.

Plus, with this guide, you’re sure to be on the higher end of the success rate scale. That’s because we’ve gathered up all the best tips and experiences from rosarians around the world.

Here’s what’s ahead:
Is it wrong to be this excited to get my hands dirty? Then I don’t want to be right. Let’s go!

When to Take Cuttings
If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find that there are websites out there that recommend taking cuttings in the late winter or early spring.

Others suggest summer is the right time. Then there are those that swear fall is ideal, while still others claim fall is the absolute worst time.

In other words, there’s a bit of contradictory info out there! The truth is that the ideal timing depends on your location, climate, goals, and circumstances.

You can technically root starts at any time during the growing season, but you’ll have the most success when conditions are mild, either cool or warm.

Freezing weather is a no-go, and sweltering heat, when plants are stressed, isn’t a good time, either. That leaves spring and fall in most temperate zones, as well as winter in regions that don’t experience freezes.

Many experts recommend taking cuttings in the fall, after all of the blossoms have faded on your plant. That’s the time when I’ve had the most success, but you do have to keep the starts indoors and alive for the entire winter if you go this route, so keep that in mind.

If you want to root your cuttings directly in the garden, take them in the spring after new growth has started. I love this method for when I don’t want to put the effort into keeping a plant alive indoors for months.

In my experience, rose cuttings started directly outdoors tend to take off more quickly than those you start indoors and transplant as well.

Perhaps that’s because they’ve had more time to adapt to your conditions, and they don’t have to deal with the shock of transplanting from indoors to out.

Preparing the Cuttings
Before you put your knife anywhere near the plant, make sure you’re taking your material from a plant that is healthy. Steer clear of anything that shows signs of rust, mildew, fungus, insect pests, or any other sort of pest or disease.

If you do see any of these on your plant, don’t even think about taking a cutting.

Next up, you don’t want to take old, woody stems or soft, extremely flexible material. Super new growth is often red or purple. A little bit of red (or young) growth is fine, but just make sure the majority of the stem is green where you plan to cut.

You can technically take cuttings from both hard and young growth, but neither of these will typically root as well, in my experience.

If you’re taking cuttings in the fall, look for a stem that has a spent flower on it, or even the beginnings of a hip, with at least six sets of leaves.

Take an eight to nine-inch piece from an area with growth as thick as a pencil, using a sharp knife or clippers that have been cleaned prior to use. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle. Repeat as needed.