Rose Cutting - Knowledgebase Question

Ridgefield Park,, NJ
Avatar for Skinnyscot
Question by Skinnyscot
May 30, 1998
My sister is moving, and has a beautiful Coral rose bush in her yard. I would like to know how to cut off a part of the bush that I could get to grow, without it becoming wild. What part do I cut, how long a piece, and what would I plant it in? Thank you.

Answer from NGA
May 30, 1998
It is possible to propagate a rose by taking a cutting, but it takes a long time to produce a plant! Keep in mind, too, that your new plant will ultimately have the same growth habit and ultimate size as the original.

Here is one method: First find a healthy stem tip that's the right age and size. A good one will snap when you try to break it off. You will need a stem tip with six sets of leaves on it. Remove it with a clean cut using a sharp tool.

Once you have the cutting with six sets of leaves, remove the two bottom sets of leaves. Then cut off the tip of the stem just below the second set of leaves from the top. Now you have a short slip with only two sets of leaves. At this stage, some gardeners routinely treat rose cuttings with willow water (made by soaking pieces of willow branch in water) or commercial rooting hormone to stimulate rooting, but it is not strictly necessary to do so.

Next you simply stick the stem piece into the soil up to the leaves. (Be sure it is right side up!) Firm the soil, water it lightly and cover it with a large glass jar pushed securely into the soil. Usually the moisture condensing inside the jar is sufficient to keep the cutting watered, and new shoots appear in about a month. Don't take the jar off until the cutting has enough roots to support itself. (This may take the entire growing season.)

The most important part of the process is selecting the planting spot. You will need a well prepared planting bed well amended with organic matter and a location in morning sun or partial shade as the cutting should be protected from hot afternoon sun. Alternatively, you might try sticking the cutting in a pot and enclosing the whole thing in a clear plastic bag. In this case, the pot should be kept in very bright but indirect light.

Depending on what type of rose this is, you may find that the cutting roots poorly. I mention this because many of the hybrid tea roses are grafted roses and some of the varieties simply have weak root systems. On the other hand, if the rose is a shrub rose growing on its own roots, you may be able to simply dig up and remove a sucker, or rooted shoot, from near the base of the plant. This would be an easier method of propagating it.

Good luck with your project!

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