Root Roses from Cuttings or Slips an easy way to get more roses. Rose propagation is simple enough for beginner gardeners and just plain fun for all.
You can easily root roses from cuttings or slips. This article will show you how to quickly and easily. Some roses are harder to root than others so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have success, it could be the rose and not you.
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It is no secret I love roses. Almost any rose is top-notch in my book but I have a special affinity for old roses, English Roses, and their French counterpart, Romanticas.
For my latest window sill propagation method see below where it says UPDATE
(when choosing roses to take cuttings from, please use only non-patented roses otherwise we are infringing on patents and that is considered stealing, there are tons of old roses that are not patented and they are easy-care, tough plants)
NOTE: at the end of this post there is a downloadable checklist you can print
I have shared a post on Rooting Lilacs from cuttings and my setup for roses is similar as far as the fish tank and box of soil mix.
But if you don’t have that much room or you want a smaller setup? Voila, I have you covered.
Why Grow roses from cuttings?
I love to grow roses from cuttings not only because it is fun but it is also an easy way to get more of the roses that you love. Plus it can save you if you lose your favorite roses for some reason or other.
In the article below I show you how I saved a rose that was dying from a rodent attack. But I could just have easily lost it forever.
Having spares that you have started from cuttings is a good insurance policy.
Eat the Potatoes
Just so you know I have tried the potato method that I have heard so much about and is popular on Pinterest or mentioned in some magazine articles, it just has not worked for me.
I have tried that method a few times and all I got were little potatoes and none of the cuttings rooted.
Zero, zip, nada!
At the same time, the cuttings I started using the other methods had an 80% success rate.
So save the potatoes for eating and just go this route for rooting roses, it is so much easier and more successful.
So here we go.
How to Take Rose Cuttings or Slips
Take your rose cutting from a cane that has just finished blooming, you can see the spent blooms here.
My favorite tool for this is Fiskars Bypass Pruners
Some say getting the heel wood is the best but I cannot attest to that.
I should do some experiments and see if it works better than just a cane cut below a leaf bud.
A 6-inch length is good and you want the cane to be close to the diameter of a pencil, it can be a bit smaller around but that gives you an idea.
Wound the rose cuttings
This step is not absolutely necessary but it is claimed to encourage faster rooting.
To wound the heels of the cutting I scrape the end of the cutting with a very sharp knife or edge of my pruners to reveal the white layer, which will help in rooting.
I have also just stuck the canes as they are above straight into the rooting hormone and not wounded them and it has worked but wounding them supposedly produces more roots faster.
Wounding the cuttings exposes more of the Cambium layer and here is the definition of that right from a dictionary:
Definition of CAMBIUM. : a thin formative layer between the xylem and phloem of most vascular plants that gives rise to new cells and is responsible for secondary growth.
You can also wound the rose cutting by slicing a straight line with a razor, sharp knife, or xacto knife straight into the cane and not scrape away the green part.
Dip rose cutting in Rooting Hormone
After you have wounded your rose cutting or slips, brush the wounded ends with a rooting hormone or solution. This speeds up the rooting process.
Right now I am loving this stuff for rooting, it roots things faster and more successfully.
It was recommended to me by a local Rose Society member that roots hundreds of roses each year.
Growing medium to Root Rose Cuttings
Mix up a growing medium of 1/3 perlite and 2/3 potting soil. Make sure the potting soil you use does not have fertilizer in it.
Put your soil in a pot that is wide enough for your cover to fit over but has a space around the rim. I have no issues with fungus or disease so I don’t worry about getting sterilized soil. You can pasteurize your soil mix if you feel it is needed.
My friend loves to use clean horticultural sand. She has successfully rooted cuttings and slips for over 50 years. Sand works great too.
I am now testing my cuttings in mostly perlite and so far so good.
Put rose cuttings into a Terra Cotta Pot
(See below for a more updated variation I use also)
Right now I am using terracotta pots for rooting plants as I have found that because it breathes I have even more success than in plastic pots.
Related: Why I love terra cotta pots
Also by viewing the side of the pot I can tell if the soil is drying out, the clay shows if there is moisture present in the soil.
Put your canes down into the potting mix and water in well.
Cover to maintain humidity
Cover your rose cuttings or slips.
My cover is a large plastic mayonnaise jar from Mayo we get at Costco. I like the wider size as I can fit more cuttings in the pot at once.
Some like to use plastic bags or wrap but I have found that to be too fiddly. Others have used a 2-liter clear soda bottle but we don’t drink soda so this works for me.
How to Water cuttings
In the photo below you can see the space between my cover and the pot.
This is where I will water when I need to. See the darker color of the pot when it is moist.
The base looks the same and when I see it drying out I know to water a bit. It is important to have a loose mix as you don’t want to drown the cuttings but you don’t want them to dry out either.
Place in a bright place where it does not get direct sun. Direct sunlight will make it too hot for the cuttings and kill them off.
The watering of your cuttings depends on so much. Temperatures, the humidity of your region, and more.
You will need to determine by observation when to water your cuttings. You want to keep the medium moist but not saturated. How fast the soil dries out determines how often you water.
With the method of a jar on top just remove the jar and feel into the soil with your finger, poke down about 2 inches. You can also use a bamboo skewer. If the soil or medium is damp then do not water, if it is dry then add some water.
Usually, if there is condensation in the jar then there is no need to water.
How long does it take for cuttings to root?
This varies just like the watering. Many people will give you a definite time frame of a few weeks but personally, I have found that it can depend on many things.
Again, time of year, temperatures, the rose type, and day length. Believe it or not, I have had rose cuttings root in 4 weeks and others that took a year.
I have even tried rooting one rose, called Tamalpais Homestead, several times and it never would root at all! That rose was a total rooting flop for many of us who root roses all the time. So I figure it will take Air Layering to get a new rose from it.
So be patient and diligent and you should get roots in time.
Re Pot your Rooted Rose cuttings or slips
Don’t worry about the roots intertwining from all four canes.
I just pop all the cuttings and soil out of the pot (once I know there are good roots) and I put it in a tub of water, the soil washes away and the roots slide apart.
Re-pot each rooted rose cutting in its own pot and let it get big and strong.
Another great container for this is the humble milk or water jug. I use these to winter sow seeds but they also work great for cuttings!
This past Summer and Fall I tried another way to root roses..the essentials are the same but this container is so awesome and for the most part free!
My husband loves the frozen frappuccinos at coffee places and his empty cups are the best containers I have used so far to root roses.
They are so easy!
Just put some holes in the bottom (I use a metal skewer heated over a flame to melt holes into the bottom) of the clean cup.
Add your soil mix and poke the canes down into it.
I write the Rose name on the cup and lid so I know which ones are which.
Let the top of the canes come through the hole in the lid. I did 4 to 5 canes per cup. Or you can just trim the cutting down to fit inside.
I like the taller cups better but it still works in the shorter ones.
The domed lids are perfect as the hole in the center allows air to get in but still keeps the moisture levels high enough and I have not had any issue with mildew.
Another bonus is it is easy to water through the top hole when needed.
I really do like being able to see when they have rooted!
I will let them get tons of roots before I separate them and pot them up into larger pots. For now they are doing great just in the cups.
This works well because I can bring them in and put in on a bright windowsill. No direct sun though.
For a printable instruction sheet for rooting roses from cuttings just fill out this form.
Just one more note, I credit my chickens and their leavings (doo) with a lot of my success in gardening, great soil builder. That being said if you would like to get into chicken keeping here is a great resource on it: Fresh Eggs Daily, Raising Happy Chickens Naturally.
Want to propagate your African Violets? This is so easy and is a fun way to get started with plant propagation!
Here is an easy DIY Arbor built from our Obelisk design!
- Rose cuttings
- potting soil
- containers, pots
- rooting hormone
- pruners or snips
- Take 6-inch cuttings from the desired rose
- Keep moist until ready to pot
- Mix potting soil with horticultural sand to a ratio of 50/50
- Half fill clean sterilized pots and containers with a 50/50 mix of sand and potting soil
- Wound butt end of cuttings (optional)
- Dip cut end into rooting hormone
- Place cuttings into pots, you can place several in one pot
- Cover cuttings in pot with clear cup, mayonnaise jar or baggie to create a mini-greenhouse effect
- Place in a warm shady location and water as needed.
- DO NOT OVER WATER! Keep slightly moist not waterlogged.
- Wait until there is clear evidence of roots. In terra cotta pots the roots will begin to come through the drainage holes, in clear cups or milk jugs you should see roots on the bottom or along the sides.
when choosing roses to take cuttings from, please use only non-patented roses otherwise we are infringing on patents and that is considered stealing, there are tons of old roses that are not patented and they are easy-care, tough plants