Skip to Content

How to Propagate Roses For The Best Blooms Ever

This article may contain affiliate links. We get paid a small commission from your purchases. More Affiliate Policy

Roses are arguably the most beautiful flower out there and the most preferred ornamental flower for many gardeners. No wonder Valentine’s Day is never complete without someone presenting its petals to their significant other.

It is also one of the few ornamental flowers grown specifically for their flowers. Yes. Roses don’t produce edible fruits, unlike the Juneberries and the Cornelian cherry dogwoods.

Propagating roses can be easy when you follow this 13-step process.

  1. Select the Right Propagating Time
  2. Prepare Your Tools and Set Them Ready
  3. Prepare the Pot
  4. Select A Stem You Wish to Cut
  5. Cut off the section of the stem of choice
  6. Remove the Buds, Flowers, and Some Leaves
  7. Wound the cutting
  8. Dip Your Stem Cuttings in A Rooting Hormone
  9. Plant Your Stem Cuttings and Water Them
  10. Cover the Stem Cuttings with A Mason Jar or Plastic Bags
  11. Provide Your Stem Cuttings with A Lot of Moisture and Sunlight
  12. Care During the Delicate Rooting Period
  13. Transplanting Them to A More Permanent Location

Table of Contents

We will go into more depth about each of these steps throughout this article, But by the end, you will have a proven method to propagate your roses at home.

Picture of closeup of taking a rose cutting

The Struggles Of Propagation of Roses

The layered and highly delicate petals make it a great headache for gardeners when it comes to propagating the plant. That, and the fact that their stems are remarkably thorny (few other ornamental flowers are as thorny as roses), calls for the need for specialized propagation expertise. This post will look at the best propagating practice you can ever employ. Let’s get started.

Organic options provide a steady and slow supply of nutrients. The ideal frequency of nourishing your young roses is once per month, which applies to organic and inorganic fertilizers.

Factors to consider before propagating your roses

You don’t want to start the propagation process only to realize too late that you are headed for complete failure. I mean propagating your roses only to realize that the winter and similar unfortunate events are around the corner. Here are the factors you need to keep in mind:

Picture of woman tending roses

What is the weather like?

This one comes on top of the list because of its severity. As you will learn later in this post, the best time to propagate your roses is at the start of the spring. Planting them in the middle of the summer or winter would be ridiculous.

Your gardening needs

What exactly do you want to achieve as far as propagation is concerned? Do you wish to add multiple varieties of roses to your garden? What combination of roses do you want to propagate? What variety of roses do you want? You don’t want to embark on the propagation process without any objective.

The difference in soils

What type of soil do you wish to plant your propagates? What is the type of soil of origin? The soil type only becomes a defining factor when you opt for a propagation method involving the transfer of propagates with their roots.

You can’t transfer the propagates from the clay soil with a lot of organic manure to sandy soil with limited manure and expect your roses to thrive. If the destination soil and soil of origin are not similar, you better opt for grafting or any other technique that doesn’t involve the transfer of roots.

The required assortment of tools

This may sound obvious, but you will be shocked by how easy it is to reach the middle of the propagation process only to realize that you don’t have an important tool without which you can’t proceed.

For instance, it would be disastrous to prepare the stem cuttings of your favorite rose only to realize that you don’t have a rooting hormone and you can’t order it as fast as you should if you leave the stem cuttings lying idle for a long time, they will wither and dry off. That’s how important it is to establish your tools before everything else.

Picture of secateurs and gloves on grass

The 13 Steps To Rose Propagation

Step 1: Select the Right Propagating Time

Not just any time of the year is great for you to start. The propagation time is a defining factor because you are more likely to opt for stem cuttings, the most commonly used way of propagating roses.

So what is the best time to plant the stem cuttings? Anytime the temperatures are warm would be perfect, but it should not be too hot. Pick a time when your rose bushes are undergoing strong growth as the stems would be packed with lots of nutrients and water reserves at that moment than at any other time.

The ideal time for this is towards the end of the spring or the start of the summer. Also, note that: It isn’t entirely wrong to grow your roses from stem cuttings during the cold weather.

The only problem with this radical approach is that your chances of succeeding are slim, and the process could take longer than if you did it during the recommended season.

You must not use your bushes of roses to obtain stem cuttings. Any healthy roses from anywhere can do. So don’t feel shy obtaining them from your friend if your bushes aren’t ready yet, or if you don’t have bushes at all.

What about wild roses? No problem with that. Wild roses are still roses. If you don’t have your bushes, don’t hesitate to venture into the wild and obtain your stem cuttings.

However, your local garden or nursery center is the best place to obtain stem cuttings. They are more likely to have the best and healthiest roses you can ever land your hands on. Go there and ask them if they don’t mind gardening enthusiasts obtaining a few stem cuttings from their gardens.

Step 2: Prepare Your Tools and Set Them Ready

Propagating roses involves selecting the healthiest rose plants and cutting their stems off. For this activity, you will need an array of gardening, potting, and cutting tools, including:

  • Rooting hormone
  • Mason jar or clear plastic bag
  • Sharp and sterilize cutting tool
  • Clean 2-inch (or 5-cm) pot
  • Potting soil

Step 3: Prepare the Pot

The scope of this post is limited to propagating your roses in pots. The process is the same anyway, whether you plan to propagate them in pots or you would be happy if they were put in the garden.

Take your pots and clean the inside before filling them with potting soil. To get the best results, consider replacing a third of the potting soil with vermiculite, perlite, or perlite, or a combination of both.

Young roses love this type of soil. The main reason why you should add these types of soil is to boost the draining capabilities of the potting soil as well as increase the airflow, these two factors are important in boosting the rooting of young stem cuttings.

If the potting soil is dry, consider watering it and allowing the extra water to drain off so that even moisturization is achieved. Note that:

If you are under-resourced, use small mason jars or the bottom halves of large plastic bottles (just cut their tops off) instead of pots.

While it might be tempting to sprinkle a layer of fertilizer in the potting soil, be aware that it’s unnecessary.

Now that your pots (or garden) are ready,, let’s select the best stem cuttings.

Picture of decorative plant pots

Step 4: Select A Stem You Wish to Cut

Select an established and healthy rose bloom from which you can stem cuttings. As you would expect, the stem needs to come from the side of the top of the plant and should possess between three and five leaves.

It would be great if you found a stem that flowered just recently. Search for stems that are young but hardy and established and which are about 5 inches (or 15 cm) long. Note that:

It is perfectly OK if the stems of your choice have flowers and buds at the time of cutting, although it would be better if you selected stems whose flowers are just starting to wither. It shows that your stems recently bloomed.

Besides the nutrient factor, another reason you should obtain your stem cuttings from the side or top of the plant is that they tend to root better than the cuttings from the bottom or middle of the plant.

Step 5: Cut off the section of the stem of choice

The best tools to cut sections of stems are a razor blade, pruning shears, or a pair of secateurs. Take one of these cutting tools and cut the stem off the plant at about a 45-degree angle, immediately below one of the stem’s leaf nodes (the point where the leaf joins the stem). Note that:

You must wear tough gloves to protect your hands from the sharp thorns on the stems.

Roses are prone to fungal infections and an array of other diseases. For this reason, ensure that the cutting tool of choice has been sterilized. One of the best ways to sterilize cutting tools is to leave them on the heat until red hot or boil them in hot water.

Picture of pruning rose cutting below a bud

Step 6: Remove the Buds, Flowers, and Some Leaves

Leaves are of little value to your newly cut stems. Flowers and buds, if present, will weather off immediately after you plant your stems in the pot or garden. Hence, cut off most leaves with the cutting tool and arrange your stems neatly in the crate or holding the sack. Note that:

No one knows what you should do with thorns, but they are better off left on those stem cuttings

Cut off most of the leaves anywhere below the stem’s lower half

Leave about three leaves on the stem to help the stems with photosynthesis. To reduce the moisture loss rate, cut the leaves in halves.

Step 7: Wound the cutting.

The wounding process entails making small slits in the bottom part of the stem to encourage rooting. Using the same cutting tool you used above, cut about 1-inch (or 2.5 cm) slits through the bark at the bottommost part of the stem. Consider making three or four more slits through the bark so the roots can have more avenues to emerge from.

Step 8: Dip Your Stem Cuttings in A Rooting Hormone

The rooting hormone boosts the rooting rate in newly transplanted plants or, in this case, stem cuttings that need to be planted.

Take your stem cuttings and, one by one, insert the bottom 2 inches (or 5 cm) of their stalk and wounds in a jar of a rooting hormone. Shake off the excess hormone and place your stem cuttings in a new crate. Note that:

Dipping your stem cuttings in a rooting hormone is not necessary but recommendable as it boosts the chances of your stem cuttings growing successfully.

You can prepare your root hormone instead of opting for the commercial option, but that’s an article for another day.

Step 9: Plant Your Stem Cuttings and Water Them

Using the tip of your index finger, a pencil or a similar stick, make 2-inch (or 5 cm) hole in an appropriate potting soil in the middle of the potting pot. Insert the cut tip of the stem cuttings into the holes.

Pack plenty of soil around your stem cuttings and form the soil using your hands. Give the stems a moist start-over by sprinkling them with a lot of water.

Picture of person planting rose cuttings into a small pot

Step 10: Cover the Stem Cuttings with A Mason Jar or Plastic Bags

You need to cover the newly planted stems with mason jars or plastic bags to produce a greenhouse environment around them which ensures the right amount of heat, UV rays, and moisture around the plant.

To cover your stems with these greenhouse-inducing containers, start by inserting two 8-inch (or 20-cm wires or sticks into the soil and around the container to prop the container in position. Proceed to cover the pot and the stem with a clear and clean plastic bag and use twine or an elastic string to affix it to the pot.

Step 11: Provide Your Stem Cuttings with A Lot of Moisture and Sunlight

You got your stem cuttings into the soil, and the only remaining hustle is to keep them alive and growing. To achieve this, you will need to provide them with a lot of water and sunlight, two activities requiring you to place the pots in a well-lit area and commit yourself to a regular watering schedule.

While at it, you need to be moderate. If you put the pots in direct sunlight where the stems are exposed to the sun’s searing heat, they are more likely to be overwhelmed with the hot condition and die off.

Also, do not water them until the soil becomes waterlogged. Roses aren’t the thirstiest ornamental flowers out there.

The mason jar has other benefits besides creating a greenhouse effect around your stems: it traps moisture and prevents the soil from losing a lot of water to the open environment.

Step 12: Care During the Delicate Rooting Period

This step entails every care you need to provide to your planted stems other than watering. For instance, are you approaching the winter? Consider moving your pots indoors. If you grew them in a garden, you might want to cover them with tent-size polythene paper to minimize the effects of snow.

After approximately two months, your stems would have stuck in the soil and produced swellings around the roots and cutting tips. These swellings are referred to as callus tissue.

You should protect these swellings by warding off weeds and pests that might interfere with their smooth development. As the winter gives way to spring, the cutting tips will begin to sprout new growths and roots. This is one of the most critical periods, and you must allow them to dry out.

Step 13: Transplanting Them to A More Permanent Location

Picture of rose cutting in compost just been watered

This is the last and almost unnecessary step involved in the process of propagating your roses. If the pots or the garden are not the definitive growing spot you had in mind, you will want to transfer the well-rooted and developed stems (near-mature roses, actually) into a location you want them to be.

After four months of good care, your roses should be ready for transplanting. They will be small but have a root system that can support them in a new location.

Remember to dig out your roses with a sufficient ball of original soil. Transplanting them with bare roots can mean the plants will need to start again in foreign soil they are more likely to die off when transplanted this way.

For best results, consider ensuring that the new location has the same type of soil as the original location. Also, ensure that the new location receives about half of the daily sun. You may accompany the transfer with a fertilizer program if you wish.

The video below will give you much more information on growing roses once you have propagated them.

How To Grow Roses – This Is What Professionals Do!

How to propagate roses for the best blooms ever: A beginners guide

Now that you know how to propagate your roses from stem cuttings, let’s look at the rules you need to observe to get the best results:

Rule #1: Know your roots

There are two types of rose roots: those obtained from an already potted plant and the dormant type derived from bare-root plants. Each of these types has its benefits. If you are a beginner, it only makes sense to start with container roses because they establish quickly and are easier to plant.

They can also be easily purchased from your local nursery during the spring, so you won’t hustle around trying to get them.

Bare-root types, on the other hand, are great for experienced planters ready to go through the strenuous process of propagating them. They come with plenty of benefits over their container counterparts, including the availability of many varieties.

However, these roots need to be kept very wept for the first 3 or 4 months after planting. You also need to soak them in water overnight before planting. That’s a lot of work!

Rule #2: Be moderate. Don’t overdo it.

A visit to the local nursery will reveal to you that there are a lot of classes of roses out there, ranging from climbers to groundcovers and grandifloras to micro-miniatures, with some classes having a bunch of varieties as well.

While propagating your roses, you may be tempted to furnish your garden with a wide range of roses. It might look cute initially, but in the long run, you will notice your garden’s mess. Trying to mix a large assortment of roses in a garden always ends up in a disorderly eyesore.

The trick here is to take a more moderate approach by settling on a single type of rose or, with the guidance of a knowledgeable gardener, choosing a few carefully selected varieties.

Rule #3: Get your site right

Roses don’t thrive just anywhere. The first thing you need to get right is the amount of sunlight the roses receive. Growing healthy rose bushes takes about 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight.

Like the tropics, roses tend to do better in hot climates when protected from the afternoon sun. In cold climates far from the tropics, it is recommendable to plant your roses close west or south-facing wall of the fence it helps minimize the damage inflicted by the winter freeze.

Roses also grow well in soils rich in fresh organic matter, although well-drained soils while well-drained soils are just as perfect. If your garden has heavy clay soil, consider mixing it with peat moss and compost to improve drainage. In lean and sandy soils, adding plenty of compost helps retain their moisture, especially around the root area.

Rule #4: Time it right

If your timing is wrong, your garden of propagated roses will die. The ideal time to propagate your roses is during the spring, shortly after the previous frost, or during the fall, about 6 weeks before the first frost appears. This gives the newly planted roses enough time to extend their roots deep into the soil just before the plant goes dormant during the winter.

Nurseries would only avail bare-root roses at the start of the spring, and they should be planted immediately after they have been bought. Have you ever realized that container-grown roses offer better flexibility when it comes to timing?

Yes. You can let them stay in the pot until the right time arrives. The best time to propagate your roses is on a cloudy and calm day. Planting your roses on a sunny and hot day during the summer only increases the chances of the plants dying off.

Rule #5: Dig Deep if you are planting in the garden

This guide above walked you through how to propagate stem cuttings in a pot, so we told you to dig a hole the size of your index finger or pencil. Things will be a little different if you opt for the garden instead. Whether you choose stem cuttings, container roots, or bare roots, the size of your holes will determine the success of your plants.

Because the garden is affected by winds and rain, it isn’t a particularly good idea to plant your roses in shallow holes. For these reasons, it is recommended that you plant your roses in deep holes, about 3 feet deep and with the diameter of a tumble.

Consider mixing a generous portion of peat moss, garden compost, or any other organic matter-rich soil with the soil you removed from all the planting holes. Place part of this mixture at the bottom of these holes.

Picture of woman tending roses

Rule #6: Fertilize often

Well, this can be a little confusing. Whether your roses need fertilizer depends on how you want them to grow. If you want them to delay producing flowers, you’d rather not add fertilizer. But that’s not the approach most gardeners take.

There is a strong chance that you want your roses to bloom as quickly as possible (flowers are why you want to plant roses in the first place).

Rule #7: Go slow on water

Roses do well when the soil is uniformly kept moist throughout the season. However, the watering frequency depends on the soil you used to plant and the climate. Sandy soils, the same as the best types of soil to grow roses, require frequent watering because they lose their moisture faster. Windy and hot conditions will also require frequent watering because they escalate the rate of evaporation.

The technique of watering your plants can influence the frequency as well. A soaker hose is recommended because it delivers water right where it is needed most, at the bottom of the stem and roots. This will reduce the frequency of irrigation.


If you want your old roses to start a new generation again, propagation is the best way to do it. Several methods you can use to propagate your roses, but they all fall into two categories: those that involve the transfer of the propagates complete with their roots and those that involve roots.

Either way, you need to consider an array of factors if you want the exercise to be successful. One of those factors is the type of destination soil and soil of origin. Your objectives should be considered as well.

One last thing is to ensure you do not propagate from rose bushes with the disease. Rose black spot is one of the most prevalent, and if you would like to read more on that, I have another article you can read here.

I hope you got some value from this post. If you did, consider subscribing to the blog, so you are notified each time I upload new content like this. You can do that from the right-hand sidebar.

Remember, folks you reap what you sow!