If you have an existing rose bush, learning to grow a new one from stem cuttings is one of the best ways to expand your garden. Most rose bushes can be reproduced fairly easily by cutting and replanting the stems correctly.
This applies especially to native roses and is less likely to work for grafted varieties. Grafted rose bushes are made by grafting a more delicate top variety onto a hardier rose bush rootstock. When made into cuttings and planted, the top variety isn’t generally strong enough to create a hardy root system, and will struggle to survive.
Rooting a stem can be done in a variety of different ways, and at any time, but there are a few tips to keep in mind to increase your chances of success.
When to make rose bush cuttings?
So, when’s the ideal time to grow a rose bush from cuttings?
Just like transplanting other bushes, the best time of year to take rose bush cuttings is in early spring or late winter. This is when the plant has just started to produce new growth and is in full-on growing mode. It’s best to avoid taking cuttings when the bush is in full bloom, as most of its energy will be sent towards creating flowers and it may not have enough energy for growing roots.
Cuttings can also be taken in late summer or early fall after the rose has finished flowering for the year.
To increase your chances of making high-quality cuttings, you’ll want to cut from the rose bush’s new growth. Cut stems closer to the newest growth rather than old, woody sections of the rose plant.
Tools & Materials Needed
- Garden shears
- Mature rose bush
- Rooting hormone (optional)
- Plastic bag (optional)
Step 1: Take Cuttings
Start by cutting a 12-inch section of the plant from the sides of the existing rose bush. Cuttings taken from the sides of the existing plant have better odds of survival than ones taken from the middle.
You’ll want to make the cut just below an existing stem node (which is the small bump where new growth begins to form).
Use a sharp pair of garden shears to make a cutting with an approximately 45-degree angle. You want your cut to be as clean and smooth as possible, as this will reduce the odds of infection.
Step 2: Remove Excess Vegetation
Remove any flowers, branches, and buds other than the main branch. This will ensure the plant directs its energy to root rather than trying to maintain extra branches.
Leave the two top leaves intact to allow the cutting to absorb sunlight.
Step 3: Apply Rooting Hormone (Optional)
This isn’t strictly necessary as most rose plants can be propagated without using rooting hormone, but it will help the plant start producing roots faster than if you don’t apply any hormone. To apply the rooting hormone, simply apply a small amount of the product to the bottom of your cutting and shake off any extra. Make sure to follow the directions of whatever product you’re using, as they can differ.
Step 4: Plant your Cuttings
Rose cuttings can be planted directly into the soil but should be planted shortly after their taken. Try to prep the planting area before you take your cuttings. If your soil is on the heavy side, adding a small amount of sand into the existing soil will allow the roots to take root more efficiently.
Push your cuttings down into the ground down to about 1/3 of their overall length. If your planting multiple cuttings make sure to leave about 4 to 5 inches in between each one.
If your planning to grow your rose bush from cuttings in a tray or planter, then a standard potting mix will work well. Plant the cuttings in a cool area with plenty of indirect sunlight. To add extra humidity (which will work like a mini greenhouse and help them grow faster) you can tent the cuttings with a plastic bag or piece of plastic sheeting.
You’ll want to make sure not to have the plastic come in direct contact with the cuttings. You can use a few small sticks, stakes, or barbeque skewers to tent the bag above the plant.
Step 5: Water your Cuttings
After planting your cuttings, you’ll want to monitor them closely until roots begin to form. This typically takes about 2 weeks, so you’ll want to ensure the soil is moist every day during that time period.
Keep the cuttings well-moisturized until you’re sure they’ve put down roots. You can test the roots by gently tugging on the plant and checking to see if it comes loose or stays put. When it’s started to create new growth from the stem you can be sure the roots are in place.
After the cutting is rooted, you can replant it anywhere you like, or leave it in its current spot. Watering doesn’t need to be as frequent after this point.