Producing Roses from Cuttings
Many roses can be successfully grown from cuttings, especially Miniatures, Floribunda, Polyantha, Shrub (including Hybrid Musk, Hybrid Rugosa, Groundcovers) and Patio Roses.
In South Australia, hardwood cuttings are generally taken in late April, May and June. The best results, in my experience, are with cuttings taken in early May.
Hardwood cuttings come from mature wood – approximately pencil thickness. If you can readily remove the thorns without tearing the bark, the wood is mature enough.
Cuttings should ideally have 4 buds and I like to make a horizontal cut approximately 1mm below the bottom bud. The cut above the top bud can be less precise (say 3 to 5mm) and does not have to be horizontal. I remove all thorns for easy handling.
Generally, I prepare a bundle of 10 to 15 cuttings and bind them tightly with a rubber band. I make sure all of the bottoms of the cuttings form a horizontal plane. I do this by placing the base of the bundle on a flat surface and either gently tapping the bundle or pushing down on each cutting until their bases are all on the same plane. Remember to label your bundles.
There are two methods to callus a cutting:
- Placing the bundle in a pot of coarse river-washed sand, buried to a depth approximating the second bud from the bottom of the cuttings, watering and then leaving in a warm, sunny spot until callused; or
- Wrapping the bundle in a few sheets of damp (not wet) newspaper and placing it in a plastic bag and keeping it in a warm environment (e.g. the kitchen) for 2 weeks or until the cuttings are callused.
Using this method, a couple of useful hints are, firstly, to dampen the newspaper 2-3 days prior to use (one problem experienced is if the paper is too wet/damp) and, secondly, to tap the wrapped bundle of cuttings on a firm surface prior to placing it in a plastic bag to ensure the damp paper is in contact with the base of the cuttings.
The cuttings are callused when the base of the cutting produces a white callus around the perimeter of the base of the cutting. It is from this callus that new roots are produced. (Sometimes, if you leave cuttings in the damp paper too long, roots are evident and, unfortunately, these will be easily damaged when transferring the cutting to the potting medium).
Growing Your Cuttings
Once callused (either in sand or paper), I transfer the cuttings to a ‘base’ potting mix. Don’t use a ‘premium’ mix as this often has fertiliser in it which can ‘burn’ the callus or baby roots. The base potting mix must have good drainage capabilities but also retain moisture (i.e. not dry out too quickly).
I plant my cutting to a depth equating to the second bud from the base, water it (preferably with rainwater) and then place it out in the open air in a warm sunny spot. I use 4″ or 10cm pots.
I don’t over-water these cuttings. In my experience, natural rainfall is sufficient until the weather warms up in September/October. The baby plants will be ready to plant directly into the garden by the end of October.
In summary, roses grow well from cuttings and it’s great to witness their progress – so, give it a try.
By Kelvin Trimper