Make copies of your favorite rose

July 08, 2021

Sharon Daniels

Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer

Our family has a treasured pink rose, a very old one which blooms only in June then is finished for the season, but it has a sweet, memorable scent. My parents planted it decades ago as a start from a neighbor’s grandmother, and the neighbor would like to have this rose, as would others in my family.

This is an appropriate time to take flexible softwood cuttings.

Use a sharp, clean clipper and carry wet paper towels or cloth in a bag to wrap pieces. Snip cuttings 6-8 inches long from the current year’s growth, and because you may or may not have success, take several pieces.

Remove leaves except top ones, and snip those in half to minimize water loss. Scrape the outer coat from one side of the lower inch of each stem, and dip ends in rooting hormone powder. With a pencil, make a hole in pot or garden deep enough to place a cutting up to half its length and so you don’t knock powder off. After it is placed, firm the soil, water well, and label it.

If you have a glass jar large enough to cover each cutting without foliage touching the sides, turn it over the cutting. Alternately, place four bamboo skewers or slender sticks around pot edges and drop a clear plastic bag over so nothing touches. If the pot is large enough, a few cuttings may fit into it, but separate them.

In four weeks or so, tug slightly and if you feel resistance, your plant may be rooted and you can eventually set your new rose in a permanent place.

If you don’t want to use nursery pots and garden soil, cuttings may be put directly in the ground. Use the above process and cover with a large glass jar or sticks and plastic to create a mini greenhouse.

Remember, many roses are grafted onto a hardier rootstock, often multiflora rose, which will withstand cold and heat better than the top (desired) part. Starting from a cutting puts a new rose on its own roots, so it may not be as hardy.

Don’t forget to protect new plants against hard winter freezes at least the first year,

If you wonder about starting a rose in water, success isn’t likely. If you wonder about propagating one from a florist bouquet, it is possible if it is fresh. Use a six-inch piece of stem and follow the usual directions. And good luck.

Yes, I tried the potato method of removing all but top leaves, scraping the lower inch of stem, dipping in rooting hormone and inserting the cutting in a potato. Next you bury the potato with cutting showing and cover all with a jar. I had no success but perhaps you will.