Roses are arguably the most beautiful flower out there and the most preferred ornamental flower for many gardeners. No wonder Valentines Day is never complete without someone presenting its petals to their significant other.
It is also one of the few ornamental flowers that are grown specifically for their flowers. Yes. Unlike the Juneberries and the Cornelian cherry dogwoods, roses don’t produce edible fruits.
Propagating roses can be easy when you follow this 13 step process.
- Select the Right Propagating Time
- Prepare Your Tools and Set Them Ready
- Prepare the Pot
- Select A Stem You Wish to Cut
- Cut off the section of the stem of choice
- Remove the Buds, Flowers, and Some Leaves
- Wound the cutting
- Dip Your Stem Cuttings in A Rooting Hormone
- Plant Your Stem Cuttings and Water Them
- Cover the Stem Cuttings with A Mason Jar or Plastic Bags
- Provide Your Stem Cuttings with A Lot of Moisture and Sunlight
- Care During the Delicate Rooting Period
- Transplanting Them to A More Permanent Location
We will go into more depth of each of these steps throughout this article, But by the end, you will have a proven method in order to propagate your own roses at home.
The Struggles Of Propagation of Roses
The layered and highly delicate petals make it be a source of 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. In this post, we are going to 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, this applies to both organic and inorganic fertilizer.
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 a complete failure. I mean propagating your roses only to realize that the winter is around the corner and similar unfortunate events. Here are the factors you need to keep in mind:
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 in 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 type of soil only becomes a defining factor when you opt for a propagation method that involves 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 that you can’t proceed without.
For instance, it would be disastrous to prepare the stem cuttings of your favourite 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.
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 out. The time of propagation is a defining factor because you are more likely to opt for stem cuttings, this happens to be the most commonly used way of propagating roses.
So what is the best time to plant the stem cuttings? Anytime when 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 that’s the stems would be packed with lots of nutrient and water reserves at that moment than 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 own 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 own 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 bushes of your own, don’t hesitate to venture into the wild and obtain your stem cuttings from there.
The best place to obtain stem cuttings, however, is your local garden or nursery centre. 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 few stem cuttings from their gardens.
Step 2: Prepare Your Tools and Set Them Ready
The process of 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 are actually planning 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 increasing the airflow, these two factors are important in boosting the rooting of young of the stem cuttings.
In case 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, feel free to use small mason jars or 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 not necessary.
Now that your pots (or garden) are ready, let’s proceed to select the best stem cuttings
Step 4: Select A Stem You Wish to Cut
Select an established and healthy rose bloom to obtain from which you can stem cuttings. As you would expect, the stem needs to come from the side of the top of the plant, plus, it 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 why you should obtain your stem cuttings from the side or top of the plant is that they tend to root better compared to the cuttings from the bottom or middle of the plant.
Step 5: Cut off the section of the stem of choice
The best tools for the purpose of cutting 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 45-degree angle, immediately below one of the stem’s leaf nodes (the point where the leaf joins the stem). Note that:
You will need to 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 very hot water.
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 you plant your stems in the pot or garden. Hence, cut off most of the leaves with the cutting tool and arrange your stems neatly in the crate or holding the sack. Note that:
No one really 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 stems lower half
Leave about three leaves on the stem to help the stems with photosynthesis. To reduce the rate of loss of moisture, cut the leaves in halves.
Step 7: Wound the cutting
The process of wounding entails making small slits in the bottommost 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 that the roots can have more avenues to emerge from.
Step 8: Dip Your Stem Cuttings in A Rooting Hormone
The rooting hormone serves to boost the rate of rooting in newly transplanted plants or, like in this case, stem cuttings that need to be planted.
Take your stem cuttings and one by one insert their bottom 2-inch (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:
The process of dipping your stem cuttings in a rooting hormone is not very necessary but recommendable as it boosts the chances of your stem cuttings growing successfully.
You can prepare your own 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 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.
Proceed to 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.
Step 10: Cover the Stem Cuttings with A Mason Jar or Plastic Bags
The reason why you need to cover the newly planted stems with mason jars or plastic bags is 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 a 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 that will require 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 searing heat of the sun, 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 other than creating a greenhouse effect around your stems: it traps the 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 then you might want to cover them with a tent-size polythene paper to minimize the effects of snow.
After approximately two months, your stems would have stuck in the soil and started to produce some 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 need to allow them to dry out.
Step 13: Transplanting Them to A More Permanent Location
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 4 months of good care, your roses should be ready for transplanting. They will be a bit small but with 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 all over 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 propagate roses for the best blooms ever: A beginners guide
Now that you know how to propagate your roses from stem cuttings, let 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 that have been obtained from an already potted plant and the dormant type that has been derived from bare-root plants. Each of these types has its own 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, which means you won’t hustle around trying to get them.
Bare-root types, on another hand, are great for experienced planters who are 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 in the beginning but in the long run, you will notice the mess your garden really is. 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 roses 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 received by the roses. It takes about 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight to grow healthy bushes of roses.
In hot climates, like the tropics, roses tend to do better 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 some peat moss and compost to improve its 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 you get your timing wrong, your entire 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 the timing?
Yes. You can let them stay in the pot until the right time arrives. The best time of the day 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, that is why 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 that you removed from all the planting holes. Place part of this mixture at the bottom of these holes.
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 the reason 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 frequency of watering depends on the soil you used to plant and the climate. Sandy soils, which are 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 have an influence on 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 all over again, propagation is the best way to do it. There are 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 own objectives should be considered as well.
One last thing is to ensure you do not propagate from rose bushes that have 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.
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Remember folks you reap what you sow!