Planting Roses and Making Rose Cuttings
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Angela Reale
Posted on: October 29, 2002

I want to clip the rose for new plantings, but do not know where to clip the rose. Also do I put the clipping in water to root or just place in soil in the ground or in a pot.

Your question does not make it clear if you are asking if newly planted roses should be pruned, or how to make new plants from cutttings. I will cover both.

When planting roses it is usually a good idea to prune the plant lightly, so that the roots in their disturbed state can nourish the plant well enough to avoid ugly and irregular die-back. The usual advice is to cut the plant back by one third and to do each cut just above an outward facing bud. Sometimes plants sent by mail have been pruned back already to reduce shipping bulk and weight, so in that case you should avoid pruning anything but broken or poorly placed twigs.

You can try to root the cuttings, but be prepared for a fairly low rate of rooting. Use about 10 centimeter pieces of twigs, dip them in rooting hormone (usually the formulation for mature wood) and plant them in a shady spot in the garden in rich well-drained soil. Water, and pop a mason jar upside down over the cutting and prepare to wait. Once the cutting starts to grow it has probably started to root. If winter overtakes the project, bury the cutting, jar and all with soil until spring. Especially at first make very sure that your propagation bed is kept moist. After the cutting has been in the bed for a year it is ready to be planted in its permanent spot in the garden.

You can of course also try it in a pot with sterilized soil and a plastic cover, but it takes so long that it is hard to never forget to keep it moist but not soggy! Also for me at least, it has always become contaminated with some damp-off organism and rotted instead of rooting.

In a jar of water I have never had success, but possibly if you use fungicides it might root before it rots. If you add a piece of willow twig for about a day it might increase the rate of rooting.

The surest way is to graft a bud slipped into a T-shaped cut under the bark into the side of a rose seedling in late summer and cutting off the rest of the top of the seedling and covering the wound with grafting wax. The success rate is highest, but the plant won’t be on its own roots and if the top gets winter killed, you have lost the desirable part of the plant.

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