With their beautiful, fragrant blossoms, it makes sense to want as many rose bushes as possible in your garden. Learning to propagate roses from cuttings will give you a quick and affordable means of bringing more and more roses into your landscape.
Choosing Your Moment
Rose cuttings root best in mild temperatures, and in Southern California, that means fall and winter. You may see advice suggesting that spring and summer are the best time to root cuttings outdoors, but this advice applies to locations with much harsher winters and milder summers. If you really want to root cuttings in the heat of summer, you can try doing so indoors, though it may be difficult to provide adequate light without the use of a grow lamp.
Sourcing the Cutting
Your cutting can theoretically come from any part of the rose bush, though of course you’ll want to leave the base of the cane alone to avoid permanently damaging the plant. Your cuttings should also have these characteristics:
Stem Age: Choose a young stem that is firm and relatively inflexible. You can choose a stem on which there is a blossom that is losing its petals.
Bud Eyes: The point where the leaf meets the stem on a rose is known as the bud eye. There should be at least three bud eyes on the cutting you choose for propagation.
Leaves: Plants can’t survive without their leaves; that’s where they photosynthesize the glucose they need, and even cuttings should have some leaves. While there are some rose varieties that don’t need leaves to root from cuttings, it can’t hurt to leave them on. Your cutting should have at least two leaves.
Setting the Cutting Up for Success
After you cut the length of stem you want to use, you may choose to “wound” the end of the stem that you intend to plant. This means using your garden shears to cut vertically up the root by about an inch or to strip off a about an inch of bark in one or two spots near the base of the cutting.
You can also use a commercially prepared rooting compound to help your cutting succeed. Some roses don’t need additional rooting hormones, but whenever you’re rooting a plant from a cutting, using rooting hormones are a good way to all but guarantee that your efforts will be successful. If you have a few cuttings to work with and are willing to experiment so you can perfect your technique, you can try one cutting without rooting hormones, one with commercially prepared rooting compound and one with a homemade compound formula. Mark each cutting with a sign so you know which is which and can see which approach works best.
Light and Water
Once you plant the cutting about an inch or two in good soil, all that’s left to do is to provide plenty of sun and moisture. You can help your cutting succeed by placing a moisture-trapping cover such as a jar or a plastic bag on top for the first few weeks to ensure a steady supply of atmospheric moisture in addition to keeping the ground itself wet.