No garden is complete without roses. They make perfect spring flowers, summer flowers, and fall flowers and therefore are a must-have for any outdoor retreat. If you’ve fallen in love with certain types of roses, it’s natural to want to enjoy more blooms of the same variety. And you don’t have to be an expert rosarian—a person who cultivates roses—to learn how to grow roses from cuttings.
“Growing roses from cuttings is an age-old technique for creating new plants,” says Stephen Scanniello, curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. “Heritage roses exist today because people passed along cuttings to the next generation. For example, many travelers carried cuttings with them as they headed west on the Oregon Trail.”
However, there's one crucial bit of info to know before learning how to grow roses from cuttings.
You cannot replant cuttings from roses that have been patented. Those include many of the new hybrid types.
Believe it or not, plants can be patented to protect the work of the inventor, making it illegal to grow new plants of patented roses. But how do you know if a rose is patented? Many of the newer hybrids are and will be marketed under a specific brand name with “TM” or “R” listed to indicate pending or official registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If the plant isn't patented, however, it’s totally fine to take a cutting, such as one your Grandma has been growing for decades, says Scanniello. Heirloom roses—also referred to as antique, heritage, or Old Garden roses—are fair game!
Now that that's settled, read on to learn all about growing roses from cuttings.
How do I take cuttings from roses?
Before you can do any planting, you'll need to learn how to get the right rose cutting. The best time to do this is right after the flowers begin to fade, says Scanniello. Once you've planned the timing right, then you can follow these steps for taking cuttings and rooting roses:
Start by cutting a 6-inch long stem that has three or four leaf clusters. You'll also want the thickness where the leaf attaches to the stem to be about as wide as a pencil. Every spot that holds a leaf is a growing point where branches or roots can form. Once you've made the cut, shave or whittle the end of the stem into a point. Take off all the leaves except one set at the top.
Next, dip the point into a rooting hormone and shake off the excess.
Stick the stem into a clean 4-inch pot that's been rinsed with a mild bleach solution and filled with perlite or damp builder's sand. Push it in as far as you can, then put the entire pot into a zip-top plastic bag to make a mini greenhouse. Place your plant in a shaded area—not full sun where it'll be too hot.
The final step is to be patient as the roots form. “You will see leaf growth quickly, but that’s the plant faking you out,” says Scanniello. “It’s not rooting yet so be patient and leave it alone.”
An alternate method of rooting a new rose is to put your cutting in builder’s sand inside a gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag. “That makes it easier to see the roots,” says Scanniello. Just make sure to set it down upright so that the plant isn’t getting squashed inside the bag.
How long does it take for a rose to root?
Depending on the type of rose, you’ll have roots within a few weeks to a month. After a month, give the plant a gentle tug. It should resist, which will indicate roots have formed. With the zip top plastic bag method, you may be able to see roots.
If you fail at getting roots (which happens!), simply try the same method again. But if you’re successful, you can plant your new rose into a pot and place it out in the garden to let it get acclimated to the area. Keep it watered and by early fall you can plant the new baby rose in the garden.
What other ways are there to grow a new rose plant?
Another technique for creating another rose plant is to take a rose bush branch and bend it until it's touching the ground. Then, secure it to the spot with something like a clothespin. Make a slight wound in the side that’s making contact with the soil. In about two months, this section of the plant should start rooting. You can then cut it to separate the two, dig it up, and enjoy a brand new plant!
Now, that you're prepared with everything you needed to know about growing roses from cuttings, get out there and make some pretty flowers!