How to propagate a rose bush

single white rose

Have you ever admired a particular rose bush in your neighbour’s garden, or simply wished you could have more roses in your own garden at no extra cost? Getting the exact same rose bush is easy and free. This is called propagating.

Rose prunings

Pruning sample

 In my garden, I have an old rose bush growing so close to a conifer that it is desperately making very long stems just to get to the light.  Hubby cut all the branches down last week-end because they were getting in his way while cutting the grass so, when I saw that pile of pruned branches, I decided to make cuttings out of them.

With a sharp knife or secators, make a cut below and above a leaf node (it is the bit on the stem where the leaf is attached), as per the picture below. Tip: the cut above the upper node should be at an angle for two reasons: 1) so you can remember which way is up and 2) keep the rain water off the top. Tip: choose nice green and healthy-looking nodes not browned damaged ones.

rose cutting areas

 You are left with something like this:

rose bush cutting

Now dip the bottom end in rooting compound (I have been using the same little pot for many years), make a hole directly in the ground or inside a pot using a stick (I used a metal tent peg here), insert the cutting,

Inserting rose bush cuttings in a pot

gently firm the soil (or compost) around the cuttings and forget about them until at least the following year. If in a pot, make sure the compost does not dry, protect from frost and from too much rain. You will know it has worked if the cuttings stay green and, eventually, when they start producing leaves.

Rose bush cuttings in a pot

Ok! I might have gone a bit carried away here with all these cuttings but I wanted to increase my chance of success!

At the end of summer last year, I scattered about ten rose cuttings directly into the ground in my borders. Two of them took. Then, instead of leaving them alone for another few months, I had to put them inside a pot (because we were moving house!). One died because I probably spoilt the roots while doing it. The other died because it rained so much, it got too wet. I should have given it some shelter and/or mix sand with the compost.

Post updated 14 June 2013:

A couple of weeks after my post, I arrived into my new home and found various overgrown rose bushes which I took cuttings from.  Many weeks later, the first shoot appeared, bringing lots of excitement!

Here is what I got this spring:

From top to bottom, Pots No 1, 4 and 6 only had one or two successful results. Pot #2 was a complete disaster as all the cuttings died. Pot No 3 and, particularly, No 5 did very well. I have since repotted them into individual pots and will leave them in peace for a few months (they apparently don’t like to be transplanted…) until they have developed a strong root system.

All this to say that you don’t need to be a gardening pro to grow expensive plants.

Please note:

Since writing this post, I have tried a much easier method, by simply putting your cutting in a glass of water. For more details, read the following: How to propagate most plants.