Want more roses? If so, you'll find that taking hardwood cuttings is an easy, inexpensive way to boost your rose garden.
Hardwood cuttings work well in most areas south of Zone 5. In northern climates, take softwood cuttings in June. According to horticulturist Natalia Hamill, here's how to take proper hardwood cuttings:
1. Take cuttings from desired roses when the canes are ripe and the leaves begin to drop in the autumn. (Note: Rugosas, Ramblers, Old Roses, English Roses, and Miniature Roses usually do well from cuttings; avoid Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, or Grandifloras, which are usually grafted onto a rootstock.)
2. Take cuttings from mature, 1-year-old wood that's at least as thick as a pencil.
3. Use a good, sharp bypass pruner to make a 45-degree-angle cut of a stem about 6 inches long. Leave a bud at both the top and bottom of your cutting. If you're away from home or taking lots of cuttings, put wet paper towels around the cut ends and transport them in labeled baggies for transport.
4. Prepare a mixture of equal parts sand and good loam soil. Put the mix in pots and water until the mix is moist but not soggy. Take your cuttings, remove any remaining leaves, dust the cut end in rooting hormone (available at most garden centers), and bury the cutting, dusted end in the soil, to half its length. You can put as many as four to six cuttings around the perimeter of a 10-inch pot.
5. Place the potted cuttings in a cold frame, cool greenhouse or a cold-not freezing-spot in the garage or basement (32 to 50F). Let the cuttings overwinter there until they break dormancy in spring. Gardeners in milder areas can plant your cuttings immediately or bury the pots in a sheltered, warm part of the garden with well-drained soil.
Over the winter, keep an eye on soil moisture. Keep your pots evenly moist, but not wet. Overwatering will cause rot. Check them every week or two. Hardwood cuttings should start to grow into small plants by early autumn, when they can be transplanted to their permanent home. Be sure to follow proper etiquette:
- Whenever taking cuttings, ask permission from the person who has your desired rose growing in their yard.
- Take no more than a reasonable amount of cuttings (say no more than a couple from one plant).
- Set a definite date on which to take the cuttings, and then keep your appointment.
- Let the owner of the rose make the cuttings if he or she wishes.
- Offer something from your garden for exchange for the cuttings: plants, fresh tomatoes, or so on.