Lee Ann Fields, Hatch, Dora Ann
As a born and raised Southerner, I learned early in life the delight in sharing flowers with friends. My mother had a white climbing rose near our kitchen window that visitors admired.Being a true Southern gardener, my mother shared cuttings from her rose to those who asked and gave detailed instructions on how to propagate. I don’t think my mother used the word “propagate” for fear of intimidating.
As a beginning gardener, I have taken the wisdom passed down from earlier generations and combined that with research based information from the LSU AgCenter to propagate roses. The paragraphs that follow will provide tips on how you too can share your roses through propagation.
Sharing rose cuttings can be done anytime throughout the year, however, fall is generally considered the preferable time of year. After your roses have bloomed, select a cane of new growth that is 3 to 4 inches long and has 2 to 3 leaves attached. Clip the cane with sharp pruning shears and immediately place the cutting in a plastic bag. Recycled, thin bags or a thin, plastic food storage bag can be used for this purpose. Place bag with cuttings in an ice chest. If you take cuttings from several roses, label your plastic bags with the name of rose and location of the rose in your garden.
While the cuttings are in the ice chest, mix up the growing media. The LSU AgCenter recommends combining equal parts of all-purpose potting soil and perlite. Moisten the media lightly. If the media mix drips water when squeezed, then too much water was used. Start over with less water. Fill the bag with a two-inch layer of the moistened media.
Next, remove only the bottom leaf and dip the bottom inch of the stem cutting into a rooting hormone, like Dip ‘N Gro or Rootone F. With the top of the plastic bag open, insert the cutting into the media, making sure the remaining green leaves are exposed to light. A bag will hold 10 cuttings. Exhale into the bag to inflate and then seal.
Place the bag in indirect light, since direct sun will kill the cuttings. Your goal is to create a “greenhouse effect” with high relative humidity. Condensation will form within the bag. Leave the bag closed for one week. At the end of one week, open the bag to exchange air and to remove any dead leaves. Do not try to move or rearrange the cuttings in the bag. Exhale into the bag as before and seal. If condensation does not form, add 2 tablespoons of water.
During the next 3 to 5 weeks, roots will be visible. At the beginning of week 6, open the bag to allow the cutting to receive more sunlight and become adapted to outdoor growing conditions. The soil will begin to dry, so keep a close eye on the moisture conditions and water sparingly when needed. Once fully rooted and with new growth showing, remove the cuttings and pot in small containers or directly into a protected garden spot.
That’s all there is to propagating roses! Now, plant, grow and share with friends.
“Propagate Roses from Stem Cuttings,” article by Robert J. Souvestre, LSU AgCenter.
“Sharing Roses,” article by William C. Welch, Southern Living September 2008.