Appalachia Gardening

How to Root a Rose Bush Cutting

How to root a rose bush

On my 5 Things post earlier this week Cheryl Soehl asked about starting roses in her comment:

Now, I have a question. When you “start” a rose, I am guessing this is a cutting. How do you encourage the roots — in water? in soil?

I replied back to Cheryl and explained my old pink rose grows so wide that it is pretty easy to dig a rooted piece from around the edge to start a new plant. Granny taught me to root things in water like Cheryl mentioned-and it really does work for lots of things, but I’ve never tried rooting a rose cane in water.

Blind Pig reader, Jim Casada, shared the following information for Cheryl to try.

Tipper—Although I’ve never tried it, you might want to pass on to Ms. Soehl (think that was the name) how Momma rooted roses. She would wait until a killing frost in the fall then cut decent-sized canes and (say a quarter of an inch thick) and then cut away a 6-8” section. She would put about half the cane in rich soil outside and cover it with a quart Mason jar upside down, pushing the jar maybe an inch into the ground. That’s it. She’d just let it sit there all winter and wait until early spring to watch for any sign of leaves sprouting. It was in effect a tiny greenhouse. Not every cane rooted but she had good luck.

If it is a rambling rose, and I think it is, you can also root, rather easily, by bending down a runner and covering it with 3-4 inches of dirt in the middle, leaving the cane exposed on both ends. It will root in a summer and can be cut away and transplanted after a killing frost.

If you have a different rooting method that’s worked for you please leave a comment and tell us about it.



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  • Reply
    Louise Leyba
    June 22, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Dr. Doster was my physician who also raised Great Danes, and was known for his roses. He had some that had been in his family over 100 years. But he said he learned to ruthlessly cut back the suckers etc or they would eventually sap the strength & kill the plant. So, he would take those sucker & cut in segments with a knob in the middle (i think he said 4-6″) then dig hole (sorry, i forget how deep) & put that piece laying horizontal in the bottom, cover & water. He did have extraordinary success!

  • Reply
    Doris Noland Parton
    July 30, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    You can stick cuttings even from cut roses that are given as gifts. My brother-in-law as a young man would stick hem part way up the creek bed into the soft mud. He had quite a bit of success.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    May 27, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    To Ed Ammons. lol
    Never done that with a rose,but every summer I cut suckers off my tomatoes and plant them.Cheapest tomatoes you ever grew.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 27, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    One spring we replaced a rotted out fence post with a new green black locust one. In a couple of weeks I noticed some little leaves on it and before fall it grew limbs a foot and a half long. Unfortunately it didn’t survive that winter as a tree but it still made a fine fence post for many years.
    We used to cut green tree limbs in the spring for Mommy’s peas to climb on. Some of them would sprout too.
    I have never even thought about rooting a rose but I did root some African Violets. At one time I had about 40 plants that all came from one parent plant.
    My brother had a vine in his place that every time I went to see him would be wilted and I would water it. I kept telling him he needed to keep it watered. “Aw it’ll be OK!” Finally I asked him if I could take a cutting off of it. I did and it died shortly thereafter. I rooted the cutting and it is still growing 15 years later. Technically it is the same plant.
    PS: My brother also had a cat that died about the same time his vine did. I didn’t ask for a cutting off the cat. I don’t like cats.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    May 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve done it Jim’s way, with an old Ball canning jar. I’ve also cut the red new growth tip from a rose bush, dipped the cut end in rooting hormone, stuck it in loose soil in an old pot and started it that way. Both work well. If you have a LITTLE BIT of southern hanging moss (whatever that’s called), cut that up, mix it in the loose soil before sticking the cutting in. That helps keep the soil loose enough for the roots to form.
    I pray everyone has a nice safe weekend – remembering the reason for the holiday is soldiers – past, passed and present. God bless them for all they and their families have done for us.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    I have used the methods for rooting that Jim noted. I never had too much luck with the jar method, for sometimes a critter would knock over the jar during the process. By the time I saw it the cutting was dry!
    I have rooted many an azalea by laying down a branch. I usually scrape away a place from the main plant, taking just the grass off to the soil. I bend a limber branch to the soil and lay a heavy rock on it. By spring you can cut and dig away the new plant from the main stock. My granny did this with roses, too!
    Not all azaleas (or rhododendrons) will allow you to bend a branch. Depends on the species, most are too brittle and break easy. I have waited until bloom is over and taken cuttings off the new growth and rooted in moist sand in indirect sunlight. I have found that making sure a nodule on any cutting is pertinent to rooting. If you slant cut a small cutting, it never hurts to dip it in rooting hormone before placing in the soil or sand. The stuff lasts forever!
    Most hybrid tea, floribunda and grandifloras are hybrids and grafted on strong (old rose root stock) so cuttings, a lot of times fail or won’t live long.
    Of course one could do the layering process. My grandfather could cut/splice a branch of a living tree, place another branch in the splice, put moss, wet and wrap it. Soon it could be taken from the main tree and planted!!…..l know, l know he had the mountain magic. He could talk to animals and I once saw him calm and capture a wild hive of honey bees with a metal pan and spoon and no protective bee-sting equipment… go figure! Didn’t appreciate this until I was grown. When I was a child I thought it was a normal thing. Kids need to listen more to elders with the old gifts!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 11:12 am

    This re-rooting stuff is kinda out of my expertise, but I’m just glad we got friends on here that know. The first time I met Jim Casada, he told me he was a recovering Professor. But it didn’t take me long to figure out he had a World of Knowledge, besides them turkeys he loves to hunt. I enjoy his Newsletter each month, mainly because he talks about his grand-dad, Joe, and this really gets my attention…Ken

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Here’s how my grandmother rooted her roses using the hosiery of the late 50s and early 60s:
    1) cut old hose down the legs so you have a long strip of flat fabric; then cut that so you have 3 or 4 long rectangles of fabric. (Grandma was tall and slender so she would cut at the knee and again mid-way up the thigh. She sometimes then, cut the upper thigh piece long ways if the fabric was quite stretched out.)
    2) Put a handful of moist compost in the middle and hold it against a green cane where a new cane bud occurs, long ends of the fabric perpendicular to the cane so it made an “X” with the cane.
    3) (and this part was quite a juggling act) Pull the ends up and together above the cane while holding the compost in place and wrap both ends of the hose around the cane somewhat loosely once.
    4) work the compost around the cane keeping it within the hand so it covers about 3 inches of the cane then securely tighten the first wrap to hold the compost in place around the cane. This compost ball will be about 4 inches in total diameter.
    5) Continue gently but firmly wrapping the hose around the compost ball closing off both ends securely and being careful not to wrap so tightly that the cane can’t continue to grow. Gently tie it off.
    6) After that she checked it several times a day keeping it moist (not soppy wet) by using her small sprinkling can (this was an old child’s watering can with a sprinkling head). As I recall, she did this throughout our 100+ degree summers.
    7) When she started seeing roots through the hose, (the canes were still green) she cut an inch or so below the compost bundle and 8 to 10 inches above the bundle, She sometimes had 2 or 3 bundles on one cane but usually had to support those canes and planted the newly rooted canes in large cans fruit and vegetables from the store came in. (She always cut the top off when she opened them, rinsed them thoroughly, then used a pointy condensed milk can opener [“church key”] to cut triangular shaped openings for drainage around the sides at the bottom edge.)
    8) She kept them on her porch in the winter, bringing them into her utility room if there was a freeze (in south Texas it is rare to have temperatures below freezing for any length of time in the winter.)
    9) The following spring they were moved to full sun for a time then she either set (planted) them in the garden or gave them away as gifts.
    After reading Jim Casada’s description, my grandmother went to a lot of effort, but maybe that was needed because our soil was rather sandy. In my memory she had nearly 100% success, probably in part because she had a good eye for selecting where to pack the compost on the cane.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I didn’t use a potato, but was able to remove a root part that developed away from the parent of an almond bush for a friend. She planted it in a container with soil and babied it for the winter and planted it in the spring. It is a thriving and healthy bush. I don’t know if this would work for roses, but it may be worth a try.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    May 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

    My Mom used to root lots of different plants by just putting them in a glass of water in a sunny window. You change out the water if it gets cloudy. I think there’s a product called “Rootone” that also will help root plants. But digging up part of the roots of roses, and just sticking them in the ground elsewhere has always worked for me.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

    I rooted a lovely little wild rose by taking a cutting where there was a joint in the cane (not the root but green part) and used the upside down jar method. This was last Spring. It rooted by Fall got planted and now it’s now growing happily on my fence ready to bloom :). I remember my grandma doing this.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    May 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

    I found a pin on Pinterest that you can root a rose cutting in a potato!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 27, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Tipper, I read an article a couple of months ago which claims you can stick a cutting in an Irish Potato and it will root. I’ve not tried it but it might be worth a try.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 27, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I have always been told how hard it was to do this. Jim gave a few examples I will try.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 27, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I have always been told how hard it was to do this. Jim gave a few examples I will try.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 27, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I have always been told how hard it was to do this. Jim gave a few examples I will try.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 27, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I have always been told how hard it was to do this. Jim gave a few examples I will try.

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