Hartwood Roses - Rooting Roses

Rooting Roses

It isn't difficult to root cuttings and grow your own roses. Here is a method that has been very successful for me.

The supplies you'll need are:
  1. A plastic half-gallon jug
  2. A 2-liter soda bottle
  3. A sharp knife
  4. Rooting hormone
  5. Pruners
Wash the milk jug and soda bottle thoroughly. Use sharp scissors or a knife to cut along the lines indicated in the photo to the right.
You will be using the bottom of the milk jug as a pot, and the top of the soda bottle as a top to create a mini greenhouse for your cutting.
It is essential that your cuttings have good drainage. Use your knife to cut 4 holes in the bottom of the milk jug.
Mix 1 part spagnum (not peat) and 1 part perlite to create the soil . The spagnum retains moisture, and the perlite provides drainage to help prevent rot. Fill the jug to within an inch of the rim with the mix, tamp it lightly, water thoroughly, and let it drain.
It is important to start with good quality cuttings from plants that are well-watered. We use semi-hardwood cuttings - new growth is too fresh to root, and older wood can take too long, increasing the chances that your cuttings will rot instead of root. A rose stem with a spent flower on it is the perfect age.
Try to get the whole stem with the heel wood, where the stem meets the main cane. This part of the stem has more buds, and roots form here more reliably.

Note: If you are not able to process your cuttings at the time you cut them, you may wrap them in wet paper towels and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days.

If a heel-wood cutting is not available, try to take a stem with 5 - 6 leaflets. Cut the bottom of the stem below the last leaflet, at a 45 degree angle toward the back of the bud like this.
To prepare your cutting, remove the spent flower and shorten the leaflets. Leaves help provide food for the developing roots, but they are also a source of water loss so we don't want too many.  
Use the knife to lightly score the bottom of the cutting on two or three sides. Take care to only cut through the bark, not deeply into the pith.  
Dip your cutting into rooting hormone, and shake off any excess. I have used both powder and liquid rooting hormone, with similar results. I show powder here, because it's easier to see.
Make a hole in the mix with your finger, a pencil, or whatever you have on hand. Place the cutting in the hole about 2 inches deep - deeper if necessary to make sure you have at least 2 buds under the soil. Firm the soil around the cutting, and water it well.
Slide the top of the soda bottle, with the cap on, carefully over the cutting and fit it inside the rim of the milk jug until it rests on the soil.

Place your rose cutting outdoors in a cool shady place (under a bush maybe) or in a shady window of a cool garage, or in the basement under grow lights. Do not expose your cutting to hot direct sun because the interior of your soda-bottle greenhouse will overheat and kill the cutting.

During the rooting process, the leaves on your cutting may turn yellow and fall off. It is important to carefully remove these fallen leaves because they can be a souce of rot for your cutting.

Your cutting may surprise you by starting to grow new leaves. This is an independent process, and is not an indication that your cutting has produced roots.

Many cuttings have been killed by well-meaning gardeners who tug on them to see if they're rooted. No need to do that with this method, because the milk jug is moderately transparent,and it's easy to see roots as they grow along the walls of the pot. Do you see the root growing toward the lower right corner of the jug?