Growing Roses from Cuttings:
A Little Secret Shared

Many roses do quite well on their own roots, and some do not. Nurseries these days tend to grow roses on their own roots where possible. Older style roses, climbers, ramblers and miniatures do well like this. But Hybrid Teas can be too highly bred to perform well unless they are grafted onto a good rootstock. So – how do we go about grafting a rose onto a rootstock?

 rose cutting

I was shown a highly scientific method for growing roses from cuttings that you may want to follow to find out which ones do well on their own roots. Take some cuttings, and if they do well, great! If they don’t do well, then you’re no worse off. Simple, right?


Best time for this if you have a choice is once the summer is over but the days are still warm; when the sap has started to dry up a little – in the Southern Hemisphere that would be mid March. Select a year-old wood – each cutting wants to be about 6” long and the thickness of a pencil. It may or may not have rose buds on it, and leaving its leaves in place will not make any difference.


But let me share a secret I learned – first: take the cuttings during the full moon (don’t snicker), it does make a difference. Second: use what is called “willow water” – strip some bark from willow branches (any variety will do) and soak that bark in a tub with enough water to cover the bark for a couple of days. The willow contains a chemical that helps with root growth. Once you have taken your rose cuttings, put them in a jar of this water, and let them sit for a day.


Plant them outside in an undisturbed corner of the garden… not too damp. Mix a little river sand in the soil and plant your rose cuttings. And that’s it… come back in the spring. With any luck, you will have new buds on the cuttings, showing that they have survived the winter.rose sutting with roots


Depending on conditions, you may get the end of your cutting beginning to form a callous within a few weeks. Normally, you won’t see this as you want to leave the cuttings undisturbed until they are ready for transplanting. However, in the event that you have to move them (as I did once) you may see the progress 8-10 weeks after the start of your project. There will be a strong root growth from the base of the cutting, but take great care… these new roots are very fragile and will break off if you don’t handle them gingerly.

Grafting roses onto a good rootstock is not as complicated as you might think, and with some expert advice (and a shared secret), you will manage just fine. Experiment anyway, just to see how it works – then share your experience like I have just done. The more we learn, the more excited this hobby gets.

Esther B. Smith, Author
So many roses do quite well on their own roots... and some do not. Learn more scientific secrets and see the difference in your garden.