How to grow roses from cuttings easily! Compare the BEST & worst ways to propagate in water or soil, using potatoes, & root by air layering.
Maybe it’s a beautiful rose plant in the garden that you want to multiply, or a Valentines rose bouquet that you want to grow into more roses, it’s easy to want more colorful and gorgeous rose bushes and vines in our homes and gardens.
Many plant lovers have tried to grow roses from cuttings. There are many rose propagation methods such as rooting in soil or water, air layering, and some even try to grow rose cuttings in potatoes! Some of these methods are great, some actually don’t work very well.
Today we are going to compare which ways are the best and easiest to propagate roses from either a plant, cut flowers or even a bouquet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more roses in our gardens or as gifts to share with friends? 🙂
Can you propagate patented roses?
* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .
A plant patent lasts for 20 years, after which the plant is allowed to be propagated.
If the roses are patented within the last 20 years, it is illegal to propagate the rose without the consent of the patent holder. ( Source )
However, there are endless varieties of roses you CAN propagate. For example, the famous “New Dawn” and “Charlotte Armstrong” roses were patented over 50 years ago, and old-fashioned heirloom roses often root easier than modern hybrids.
Now you know which roses not to propagate, let’s look at the best and easiest methods to root rose cuttings! ( Source )
Best time to grow roses from cuttings
The best time to grow roses from cuttings is from spring through summer, when flexible new stems (current year’s growth) are actively growing. They are called softwood cuttings, who are the fastest and easiest to root when you select healthy stems.
Look at all the beautiful rooted rose cuttings by Vuon & Nha on YouTube! Video tutorial below:
The next best are semi-hardwood cuttings, taken in late summer and early fall, when new stems have partially matured.
Hardwood cuttings are most difficult type of cutting to root. They are taken in late fall or early winter, when the rose stems have matured and entered dormancy.
Grow roses from cuttings by air layering
Air layering is a fascinating propagation method being used for thousands of years! Nowadays there are easy products like these reusable air layering pods you can get, or make your own with simple materials such as small water bottles or plastic bags.
Air layering is the BEST way to propagate roses (and many woody plants) if the rose bush or vine that you want to multiply is already growing in your garden or in a friend’s garden. You don’t even have to use rooting powder with this method.
The best time for air layering roses is in late spring or summer when the weather is warm and the rose bushes are actively growing. ( Air layering rose video tutorial below. )
Select a stem that is about the thickness of a pencil and longer than a foot. Take a clean sharp knife, find a spot at about 1 foot for the top tip of the stem, remove leaves and thorns around this area, peel off about a 1 inch section of the green bark tissue to get to white wood.
You can also make a 2” long cut along the middle of the stem, and insert a little piece of plastic straw to prop the cut open, like shown in the above video tutorial by Vuon & Nha.
Don’t cut too deeply into the stem or it could break.
Dust the cut area with rooting hormone. You can skip this, but rooting hormone does help speeding up the process.
Next, make a 3” to 4” size pouch using either plastic wrap or a small plastic bottle filled with moist peat moss, coir, or potting soil. Coco coir is a great medium to root rose cuttings. It is sustainable and clean, which is important for propagation.
The cut area should be completely covered with enough room for roots to develop. Video tutorial below by Vuon & Nha.
Secure top and bottom with strings or twist-tie (Not too tight so the plant can grow and expand). You can also use these reusable air layering pods.
Because the stem is still attached to the mother plant, it is receiving water and nutrients as the new roots are growing from the cut area. This greatly increases the propagation success rate to nearly 100%!
Most rose plants show their white roots in 3 – 5 weeks. When you see good root system develops with lots of healthy roots, clip the stem off below the layer.
Gently remove ties and covers. Carefully plant your new rose plants and keep them well watered and protected from direct sunlight for a couple of weeks so it can adapt.
Grow roses from cuttings in soil or medium
Fill some clean pots or containers rooting mix and water well so it’s moist and fully hydrated. You can use clean potting soil or a soil-less mix such as clean sand, peat moss, perlite, or Coco coir. ( Photo by Hedgerow Rose)
IMPORTANT: The containers should have drainage holes and never sit in water for too long. ( Photo by Grownups )
Coco coir is a great medium to root rose cuttings. It is sustainable and clean, which is important for propagation.
Take rose cuttings only from healthy plants that are well watered. Choose fresh healthy rose stems newly grown from the woody base, with at least 3-5 leaf nodes on the stem. Cut near the base at a 45-degree angle. Put cut stems in water immediately.
Cut longer stem into 6 inch to 8 inch long, and make sure each cutting have at least 3 nodes – where leaf meets stem. Remove all flower buds and leaves except for one set of leaves at the top of each cutting.
Dip the cutting’s bottom half in the rooting hormone powder or gel. Use a pencil to make a planting hole 3 to 4 inches deep in your rooting mix. Plant the rose cutting into the hole so at least two nodes are covered.
Keep the cuttings in a warm and bright place away from direct sun. Water when the rooting mix start to feel dry on the top inch. Pamela at Flower Patch farm used recycled coffee cups (above) and large jars (below ) as humidity tent. Such great ideas!
You can also use a propped- up plastic bag or a mini greenhouse. Here are 45 best DIY greenhouses you can make from tiny to big!
If you live in a warm humid climate with a shaded outdoor area, you can skip the humidity cover. ( Photo below by Hartwood Roses )
Most softwood rose cuttings will root within 2 to 6 weeks. If you see healthy leaves growing, and feel some resistance when you very gently tug on the cuttings (don’t do this too soon!) , it’s likely they have rooted.
Here’s a YouTube tutorial by Mike on how to use a humidity cover made from plastic bottles.
Now you can remove the humidity tent and let them grow for a couple more weeks before transplanting the cuttings. Below is another propagation example by Lilisim.
Can you root rose cuttings in water?
Rose cuttings do not propagate well in just water. Some cuttings will root, but the success rate is usually about 20%, while you can get 80% success by propagating rose cuttings in soil medium or by layering.
The rose cuttings tend to take a long time to root in water, and is prone to rotting.
Can you grow rose cuttings using potatoes?
There are many viral images of rose cuttings in potatoes, but I have not seen any scientific or real life evidence of potatoes or dipping in honey making rose cuttings grow more quickly or successfully.
On the contrary, there are many reports of failures from gardeners who actually tried to grow rose cuttings in potatoes.
The potatoes may grow roots, which will not magically become rose roots. The rose cuttings need a medium that holds moisture and air, which isn’t really what a potato does.
That’s it! Use the first 2 methods, and happy gardening! 🙂