The Q&A Archives: Starters

Question: How do I get starers off fo my rose bushes?

Answer: How you take cuttings can vary a bit depending on the variety of rose, but here are some general tips:

Select straight, healthy, disease-free stems to take the cuttings from. The cuttings should have 5 or 6 leaves attached.

Cut off about 12 inches from the top just below a leaf node. A node left near this cut end may help the cutting root more easily. Pull off the leaves along the stem, leaving two at the top for photosynthesis. These soft stem cuttings are usually taken in the late spring or early fall from the young stems of the current year's growth.

Some rose varieties will also root well without leaves. Cuttings from these can be taken in the winter (November-January).

Place the cuttings in a sealed plastic bag and put them in a cool place (about 40?F)like the refrigerator overnight. This will give the wounds time to seal without letting the cuttings dry out.

There are several ways to root the cutting from this point. The no fuss way is to poke a narrow, pencil-sized hole directly into the ground where you want to plant it, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, insert the cutting 6 inches, mound up the soil around it, water it and hope it works. Lots of times it does, especially if you have quality soil and a humid environment. The appearance of new leaves after several weeks is your sign that all is well.

Another method is to dip the ends of the cuttings into rooting hormone and insert them into the ground or into small pots. Use the top half of a 2-liter soda, plastic baggy or a glass jar to cover the cuttings and create humid, greenhouse-like conditions, but remove it to allow for air circulation once in a while. If the cutting gets too wet, it will rot. You can use shorter cuttings for this (6 inches) to make covering them more manageable.

If rooting in pots, use a 1:1 mixture of potting soil and vermiculite (or perlite).

Always use a sharp pruning shears when taking cutting to prevent crushing the stems.

Cuttings should roots in 4 to 8 weeks. Test them with a tug. If they resist, they've probably rooted.

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