Growing roses from cuttings

Roses From Cuttings: How To Start A Rose Bush From Cuttings

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

One way to propagate roses is from rose cuttings taken from the rose bush one desires to have more of. Keep in mind that some rose bushes may still be protected under patent rights and thus, are not to be propagated by anyone other than the patent holder. Keep reading to learn more about how to root roses.

How to Grow Roses from Cuttings

The best time to take rose cuttings and rooting roses is in the cooler months, perhaps starting in September, as the success rate is higher for home gardeners at this time. The rose cuttings that one is going to try to root are best taken from the stems of the rose bush that have just flowered and about to be deadheaded.

The rose cutting should be 6 to 8 inches in length measuring down the stem from the base of the bloom. I recommend keeping a jar or can of water handy so that the fresh cuttings may be placed directly into the water after making the cutting. Always use sharp clean pruners to take the cuttings.

The planting site for growing roses from cuttings should be one where they will get good exposure from the morning sun, yet shielded from the hot afternoon sun. The soil in the planting site should be well tilled, loose soil with good drainage.

To start rose bush from cuttings, once the rose cuttings have been taken and brought to the planting site, take out a single cutting and remove the lower leaves only. Make a small slit with a sharp knife on one or two sides of the lower portion of the cutting, not a deep cut but just enough to penetrate the outer layer of the cutting. Dip the lower portion of the cutting into a rooting hormone powder.

The next step when you grow roses from cuttings is to use a pencil or metal probe push down into the planting site soil to make a hole that is deep enough to plant the cutting up to about 50 percent of its overall length. Place the cutting that has been dipped into the rooting hormone into this hole. Lightly push the soil in around the cutting to finish the planting. Do the same thing for each cutting keeping them at least eight inches apart. Label each row of rose cuttings with the name of the mother rose bush it was taken from.

Place a jar over each cutting to form a sort of miniature greenhouse for each cutting. It is extremely important that the soil moisture for the cuttings does not dry out at this rooting time. The jar will help to hold humidity in, but can be a problem if it is subjected to a lot of hot afternoon sun, as it will overheat the cutting and kill it, thus the need for shielding against the exposure to the hot afternoon sun when you root roses. Watering of the planting site every other day may be required to keep the soil moist but do not create a standing water or muddy soils situation.

Once the new roses have taken root well and have begun to grow, they may be moved to their permanent locations in your rose beds or gardens. The new rose bushes will be small but usually grow fairly quickly. The new rose bushes must be well protected against the hard winter freezes in their first year as well as extreme heat stress conditions.

Please keep in mind that many rose bushes are grafted rose bushes. This means that the bottom part is a hardier rootstock that will withstand cold and heat better than the top and more desired part of the rose bush. Starting a rose bush from cuttings places the new rose bush on its own roots, so it may not be as hardy in cold climates or in extreme heat conditions climates. Being on its own root system can cause the new rose bush to be far less hardy than its mother rose bush.

How to Graft Rose Plants

Beautiful colored roses are a welcome addition to any garden. It is possible to enjoy a consistent bloom of roses all year round by grafting rose varieties that are suitable to your climate and soil conditions. You can even graft roses that are less hardy and would normally have no chance of surviving in your hardiness zone.

Follow these steps to successfully graft rose plants or a rose bush and enjoy a more uniform bloom size, color and shape than those grown from seeds.

Step 1 – Purchase Grafting Knife

Purchase a sharp grafting knife from any garden center. Do not use a household knife since it may not be sharp enough to make a clean cut. Grafting knives are available in both left and right handed models, so use the one you are comfortable with.

Step 2 – Cut the Scion

The ideal time to begin the grafting procedure is when the petals begin to droop and the blooms are fading, but the buds are not fully swelled.

Hold a bit of the rose plant you wish to bloom, making sure it has at least 2 rose buds and cut the bottom edge into a V-shape. This part is called the scion, bud stick or bud wood.

Place this graft piece on a clean surface and mist with water to prevent it from drying up within seconds.

Step 3 – Cut the Under Stock

Cut a smooth small notch in the stem of the rose plant you want to attach the graft piece to, at an angle to receive the scion. This part is called the stock, rootstock or under stock.

Step 4 – Join the Scion and Under Stock

Slide the scion on the cut in the stock so it fits snugly. This point where the two are joined is known as the ‘union’. Be sure to do it as quickly as possible to prevent the cut surfaces from drying out.

For best results, cut a superior scion and attach it to your root system that is adapted to growing in the soil and weather conditions.

Step 5 – Cover the Joint

Quickly apply a layer of two of grafting tape over the union and remove your hand. An alternative to this is to use grafting wax that you can soften with your hand and apply around the union to cover it properly. Mist the plant with water.

Step 6 – Caring for the Grafted Rose Plant

Cover your grafted rose plant with a clear plastic bag and keep it in a cool location. Let it sit undisturbed for four to seven weeks to heal from the surgery and develop itself into a healthy plant.

After the wait period, slowly acclimatize your new plant to its surroundings over the span of a few days. Make one hole in the bag on the first day, followed by two holes the next day. Slowly remove the plastic bag and leave it to sit in its shaded spot for an extra week.

Remember, roses are very easy to graft because almost all varieties are compatible with one another. Graft different types of roses to enjoy a varied plantation.

Rose Plant Grafting

Today, we are discussing Rose Plant Grafting Methods; Techniques; Procedure.

Grafting is a process in which two plants are joined together so that they can grow as one. The upper portion of the plant which is called as scion will be attached to the lower portion of the plant called rootstock.

Reasons for Grafting:

  • Grafting is mostly done to the trees which bear fruits and almost all the trees present in orchards will be grafted.
  • The process of grafting in the orchards takes place because the seeds of trees which bear fruits will not be able to reproduce their real genetics. Hence, a branch will be taken from any desirable tree and grafted to a rootstock which is suitable.
  • Grafting is a process which takes place for the production of plants which are dwarf and are almost genetically true to their species.
  • A plant which is less desired can be modified by inculcating the process of grafting a species which is more desirable to the rootstock.
  • Many varieties can be grafted to one rootstock in order to produce a tree which will produce a different variety of fruits on one tree. Many of the roses are the product of grafting done to a different rootstock.

Grafting can be done through the stem cutting to the rootstock and also through budding. Budding is a process in which a bud from the stem is grafted instead of the whole stem. This method is most preferred for the trees of apple and other few trees as well. Usage of wax is done in order to cover the area which is grafted and then wrapping is done by using the growing tape in order to protect it at the time of healing.

Many varieties of plants can act as the rootstock, but preference would also be given to the flowering quince as is remains tolerant to the climate in the north. If grafting is done to a rootstock which is hard, it gives the plants a capability to grow in a climate which is cold without undergoing the freezing of roots.

Identification of a Grafted Rose Plant:

A plant which is produced by the method of grafting can be identified through a lump which occurs at the stem base where it gets attached to the rootstock. The point which is grafted should not be buried. If it is buried, the rootstock will start growing instead of the upper portion of the plant which is grafted.

Rose Plant Grafting Procedure:

Preparation for Rose Plant Grafting:

  • It is better to perform grafting on your roses in the middle of summer because this is the time when the sap present in the plants will be flowing. If the nutrients along with the sap keep flowing, there would be a better opportunity for the grafting to take place and also for the survival of the new roses.
  • Scion which is also called as a bud is the plant which you are going to graft onto other plants. In the case of roses, the selection of Scion is done based on the flowers which are beautiful because it is these flowers which continue growing after the process of growing is done. The scion which would be the best is the stem which is the youngest of the plant. The stem should have a good establishment of leaves on it and the flowering should have been done recently and there should be a start of hardwood developing on it.
  • To get the best of the results, you need to select a stem from which the bloom has faded recently.
  • The rootstock is the plant to which the fusion of the graft will be done. Rootstocks are selected considering their health and hardiness, irrespective of the flowers and their beauty. For the process of grafting to take place, the rootstock should belong to other rose plants.
  • Rose plants are the ones which need lots of water for survival and the grafting will have a good chance of success if both rootstock and scion are watered well before the process takes place. You need to start providing both the plants with plenty of watering on a daily basis for the first 15 days before grafting.
  • Ensure that the roses are watered regularly before two days of the graft and also till the previous night.


  • Plants are very much prone to bacteria, fungi, and viruses similar to human beings. These can be prevented by making use of the gardening tools which are sterilized mainly when you have chosen a sensitive method like grafting. This will not only ensure the successful grafting but also the survival of the plant.
  • The simplest way for the sterilization of the grafting knife is by using isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.
  • Use cloth damp with alcohol and then start wiping the blade in a thorough manner by ensuring that you get the sides, base, and the tip of the grafting knife. Be careful while doing this process as it may hurt you. Now, keep the blade aside so that it would dry in air for some time.


  • By using the clean shears of pruning, start pruning your rootstock plant so that the foliage which is dead can be removed. Choose a stem which is healthy and has a large number of leaves which are developed for the actual grafting. By making use of the grafting knife, take off all the buds and prickles from the center part of the stem.
  • It is not that necessary to remove the prickles, but it will help because this will reduce the chance of hurting yourself in the process.
  • Bud removal is very important as the buds have to grow from Scion and not from the rootstocks.
  • While pruning, make the cuttings in an angle of 45°to decrease the damage and improve the circulation of air.

Read: Organic Garlic Planting.

T-shape Cut:

By using a grafting knife, cut a T-shape into the bark of the rootstock which has a length of an inch. Remember not to penetrate the layer of cambium which would be wet and also in green color looking pale. By making use of the tip of the knife, carefully open the flaps which are created by you in the bark.

The best location for the T-cut to take place is near to the center of the stem in between both the nodes. Nodes are the locations where the buds and leaves grow out of the stem.

Cutting and Thinning of the stem for Rose Plant Grafting:

  • Now, cut the stem which you want to use as a scion. The upper portion and lower portion of the stem have to be cut off by leaving a section of up to 5 cms at the center. While doing this, ensure that the section of the stem has a minimum of one eye bud where the growth of a new leaf takes place from the stem.
  • By making use of the grafting knife, you can cut the buds, prickles and the leaves from the part of the stem you have taken.
  • Now start trimming the stem for 2.5 cms beneath the bud eye located at the lower portion.
  • After that, locate the knife on the stem at the upper portion of the bud eye. Insert the blade very deep into the stem so that the penetration of the cambium layer and the bark takes place. This layer would just be behind the bark which consists of the nutrients.
  • Now cut the bud eye by ensuring that the bark, as well as cambium layer, are taken by you.
  • Ensure that the bud eye is towards the upward direction as it means the stem is towards the correct direction. When the scion is inserted into the rootstock, the flaps of the bark will be opened around the scion. Now start pushing the scion into the bottom of the T-cut by leaving the bud eye which has been exposed at the upper portion of the flaps.
  • The cambium layers of the rootstock and scion will be in contact with each other and this is what is required for the grafting to take place successfully.
  • Now close the flaps of the bark over the scion. Start wrapping some layers of the grafting tape surrounding the graft. The top and bottom area of the bud eye should be wrapped and make sure that the bud eye is exposed.
  • Do not be frightened while pulling the tape in order to stretch it as this is important so that we can make sure that the cambium layers are in contact.
  • Thinning will help in the removal of the branch at its origin. It will help in cutting the branch back to the plant base. This does not result in strong and healthy growth beneath the cut. Hence the plant will be open and there would be fewer branches which in turn increases circulation of air. This prevents diseases.


  • The plants which are grafted will require plenty of water. For the next 15 days, you need to water the rootstock on a daily basis to make sure that the soil is moist. The soil should not be soaked wet but it should be damp.
  • As soon as the scion will start creating new growth on the rootstock, it will start growing fresh buds. Bur when the scion is still in the establishment stage, the buds will be very heavy and can even cause damage to the union of buds. To decrease the stress on the union of buds, you need the trim the first four buds which grow till the graft is completely healed.
  • Use a knife which is sharp in order to trim the buds immediately after their emergence.
  • To help the new plant, pruning can also be done to the rootstock above the graft.
  • Grafting tape is a kind of tape and as time passes, it will decompose naturally and falls off. Make sure that you are not removing the tape from the rootstock. When sufficient time has passed, the tape will fall off and this will make sure that it stays for a long time till the graft heals.

Different methods of Rose Plant Grafting:

Rose Plant.

There are different methods of grafting which have been devised for the vegetative propagation of plants to take place artificially. The methods of grafting which are used commonly for the rose plants are bud grafting and whip grafting.

Whip Grafting:

This is the simplest and the most commonly used method for grafting small rose plants. If you are grafting for the first time, trying this method is always suggestible as it is very simple.

  • The first thing you need to do is to make a slanting cut on the rootstock of the plant.
  • The Scion in the process of whip grafting is a branch which consists of a minimum of two grafting buds and very few leaves. Make a slanting cut as you have done for the rootstock, but this should be complementary.
  • Ensure that the cambium layers of both scions and the rootstock are in contact. The cambium layer gets infusion to form a bridge of living tissues in the form of a callus.
  • Now place the scion on the rootstock in a careful manner and start applying some grafting wax. You can buy it in stores and the grafting wax consists of resin and beeswax in the ratio of 3:1.
  • Wrap the scion in a polythene strip which is perforated and tie it in place. Then make the scion secure by using a rope. Do not tie it too much tight as it restricts air circulation. It should not be loose too.
  • The fusion of the graft takes place in 45 to 60 days. To make sure if the grafting of the scion is done, unwrap the graft gently and check. It is always better to leave the graft without even touching it for at least 75 days so that the scion will be grafted with the rootstock for sure. If there is any sort of disturbance in the arrangement for checking the process, the fusion may fail.

Bud Grafting:

Bud grafting which is most suitable for the rose plants which are grown in small pots or the rose plants which are grown in nurseries with thin branches is the process which takes place when the rootstock is very delicate with a diameter of 1 cm. In such cases, grafting the complete branch on the rootstock gets tough as there is a chance for the branch to get dried or wilt before the fusion takes place. Moreover, if the branches of the rootstock are thin, then the entire arrangement will turn up to be delicate for the grafting to be completed successfully. In such scenarios, bud grafting is preferred. This is simply called budding. In this process, the scion is a vegetative bud. As per the cut which is made on the rootstock, budding is classified into two types.

  • Patch bud grafting
  • T-Bud grafting

Patch Bud Grafting:

In this method, a patch is taken from the rootstock plant to make a place for the bud in order to fuse. While cutting the patch o the rootstock, it is very important to make sure that the stock is not getting wounded in a way which is not at all healable. The patch cut should not be so deep. Expose the inner portion of the stem and that would be simple rather than cutting it so deep. The below steps can be followed in the process of patch budding.

  • Choose the plant you want to graft and cut a vegetative bud from it and this is termed as the scion. You need to ensure that you are cutting a very little part of the stem and the bud.
  • Patch cut should be made as per the shape and size of the rootstock. For budding, the size of the scion will be very small. So, ensure that the patch cut which has been made will be in such a way that it fits the scion.
  • Gently put the scion on the stock plant and start applying some grafting wax.
  • Protect the scion same as in the whip grafting method. You need to take proper care when protecting the bud graft, as the scion here is just a vegetative bud which is very small. There is a chance of the scion falling off if not protected properly.
  • It is simple to monitor the bud graft fusion. The scion will grow as a branch after the graft is fused with the rootstock in a proper manner. Hence, there is no need to open the graft to check if the fusion happened. You will know it when the branch starts growing out of the graft.

Read: Mango Tree Grafting, Training, Pruning Techniques.

T-bud Grafting:

In this method, a cit which is of T-shape is made on the rootstock plant so that the partial peeling of flaps from the stock takes place. The main advantage of T-budding is that, because of the T-shaped cut, a pocket is created which would be small and this would be created on the rootstock. Due to this, the scion can be inserted into the pocket in an easy way. This type of graft arrangement is very secure.

  • After cutting the vegetative bud or the Scion, make a cut on the rootstock which has a T-shape. Now gently grab both the ends of the T with a couple of forceps and start peeling them from the stock so that the inner portion of the stem gets exposed. Do not peel them completely from the rootstock.
  • Now insert the vegetative bud or the scion into the T-shaped cut in such a way that the bud will come out of the cut and is not sealed by the flaps.
  • Application of grafting wax should be done now. Flaps should be closed and the graft has to be protected.
  • The union which is made from a T-bud has a great chance of success than the plant which is bud grafted. This is because the scion is safe inside the pocket and hence it is not vulnerable to any forces which cause damage.

Advantages of Grafting:

  • Grafting is the only method which helps in the preservation of the characteristics which are desired of the seedless hybrid plants.
  • Grafting makes the plants resistant to the diseases caused by pests and also the diseases which occur to the soil. This is considered to be the biggest advantage as the plants attain resistance from viruses, bacteria, fungi etc.
  • The plants show improvement genetically. Grafting helps in the creation of a new plant by using improved technology and being faster than other conventional methods.
  • The physical growth of the plant will be improved by grafting. There would be a tremendous improvement in the number, size, and quality of the fruits.
  • The productivity of the plant increases. It would be more tolerant to adverse situations such as excess humidity or salinity.
  • The plant gets established in a short time which would be a great help if raised on commercial purposes.
  • The old trees can be renewed by grafting.
  • The standardization of the production of fruits will be done. This will help in propagating the varieties that are not adapted well to the conditions of soil or the plants which are having the root systems which are weak by grafting them into strong patterns.
  • The juvenile period of the plant will be reduced and hence, they enter into production prior to the plants which are not grafted.

Disadvantages of Grafting:

  • Skilled labour is required to take up the grafting process and hence they need to get trained.
  • If the execution has failed, the growth of the plant gets affected and there would be disorders appearing physiologically.
  • There would be some incompatibility which occurs at several stages of grafting and this will have a huge impact on the genetic composition of the individual plant.

Read: How To Grow Saffron.

Can I grow roses from my bouquet?

  • Arrangement of a dozen red roses from The Cutting Garden, in 2008. Arrangement of a dozen red roses from The Cutting Garden, in 2008. Photo: Buster Dean, Chronicle

Photo: Buster Dean, Chronicle Image 1 of / 1



Image 1 of 1 Arrangement of a dozen red roses from The Cutting Garden, in 2008. Arrangement of a dozen red roses from The Cutting Garden, in 2008. Photo: Buster Dean, Chronicle Can I grow roses from my bouquet? 1 / 1 Back to Gallery

Q: I was about to dispose of my rose bouquet when I noticed the stems have produced more leaves. Is it possible to grow these into bushes? – E.K., Houston

A: It’s possible, but don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t work. You can try to root the stems/cuttings in a container of good potting soil and sand or in the ground. If you prefer the ground, use a hoe handle to make the hole; then insert the stem and add sand.

It’s best if your cuttings have at least five growth eyes, or joints. Remove all the leaves but those at the top. Trim each cutting back at the top end to within ¼ inch of the top eye. Cut the bottom end ¼ inch below the bottom eye.

Dip each bottom end in commercial rooting hormone. Plant each so that three eyes will be in the hole and two above the soil. Pat the soil firmly around the cuttings.

Cut the bottom off a large plastic pop bottle, and cover the cuttings with the remaining portion. Or use a jar to create a minigreenhouse. Leave the cap off the plastic bottle to let air in on warm days or slip a rock under the jar for air.

Place the cuttings in bright light, not sun or shade. Place potted cuttings in dishes so that you can water from the bottom.

When the second set of leaves develop, you can carefully transplant in the garden. Or wait a year and transplant.

How to propagate roses

1. Cut pieces of stem about 20 – 30cm long (remove flowers, if there are any)

2. Remove all leaves

3. Re-cut the bottom of the rose cutting, just below a node (the swelling on the stem, where the leaves emerge)

4. Remove the thorns on the bottom half of the rose

5. Dip the end of the rose cutting into a rooting hormone gel (or use honey if you don’t have any hormone gel)

6. Plant into a pot filled with propagating sand. Poke a hole in the sand first, so you don’t rub off the hormone gel, and then carefully firm the sand around the stem. Water gently. You can plant about 4 cuttings in a 200mm pot

7. Place the pot in a protected spot, with filtered light, and water sparingly. By late spring, the cuttings should be producing leaf shoots and roots and are ready to be planted in a sunny spot with well-draining soil

How to plant and care for roses


Give roses a position in full sun and ensure the plants have good airflow. Avoid growing them near big shrubs and trees that will cause them to compete for light and nutrients.


During the warm months, regular water is key. Avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of disease such as powdery mildew and black spot.


They’re hungry plants, so feed them well. Use a slow-release fertiliser for roses and supplement with liquid feeding.


Prune roses in winter, and deadhead for more blooms during the growing season.

You might also like:

Four essential things roses need to thrive

Tips for pruning roses

Why you should combine roses with other plants

Do you know how to propagate roses from your Valentine bouquet? As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches and long-stemmed roses will be a common gift, I thought this would be a good topic to share.

Propagating Roses In Potting Soil

A couple of years ago, I came across a video on how to root roses from cut flower arrangements. (Isn’t the internet an amazing fount of knowledge?) I had no idea that this was even possible, but this picture is evidence that this can actually be achieved!

To see the video I watched, click here► video on how to propagate roses from flower arrangements. This lady actually rooted the roses in potting soil and used a rooting medium. She places the pots in plastic bags, which act as a greenhouse.

In the past, I have rooted rosemary, lavender, basil and other plants for the garden on many occasions. Why was I so surprised and why had I never thought of this?

At one point, I actually told Dave not to buy bouquets for me. It seemed such a waste. I would rather have a plant. Okay, my perspective has changed. The beauty and fragrance of the bouquet can be enjoyed and a plant can even be propagated from the stems!

Propagating Roses In Water

On another video, a gentleman had placed rose cuttings in clear water bottles and rooted the roses. That is what I chose to do. The thought of plastic bags filled with pots of dirt sitting around the house did not appeal to me.

This is a picture of two rose cuttings from a single stemmed rose in my kitchen window. The picture is after a couple of weeks of being in the water. When the bloom was spent, I cut off the blossom and cut the stem at an angle below a leaf node in two places, creating two potential plants.

Before placing the stems in the water, I dipped them in honey. (Since I did not have rooting medium on hand, I did a search and found that honey was a good alternative. You can also dip them in cinnamon in place of the rooting medium.) Notice that there was new growth on the long stem at this point.

Since this window is directly in front of my sink, I was able to check on the progress each day.

This is called a callus, which appears just before the roots.

Before the roots formed, the ends of the stems looked like the picture to the left. This is called a callus, which appears just before the roots.

It took about two months for the stems to root and be ready for planting. One of the cuttings began to mold and did not root, but you can see the larger one did and I have a plant from a cut rose from the florist!

Enjoying Your New Roses

It is so enjoyable to watch as these cut roses take on new life, rooting, planting and then enjoying them in your garden! Imagine telling your friends and family how you received the flowers from someone and now have plants from those bouquets growing in your garden!

So using this same system of how to propagate roses from your Valentine bouquet, I will be trying it again this year. How about you?

Propagating roses by cuttings is easy, and it brings certain side benefits, says Kris

(1) In an out-of-the-way part of the garden, which gets some shade during the hottest part of the day, dig a trench that has one vertical side. It should be around 6in (15cm) deep; place an inch or two of sharp sand in the bottom.

(2) Choose a stem – about the thickness of a pencil – from the rose you wish to propagate. The wood should be straight (no kinks), ripe (tell by being able to break a thorn off cleanly), and young (from this year’s growth).

(3) The cutting should be about 9in (23cm) long. Cut just below a bud at the base. Then remove the leaves and thorns from the bottom half. You can leave a couple of leaf systems at the top of the cutting if you wish, but I’ve removed mine.

(4) Insert each cutting so that it is two-thirds buried, making sure that its base is well into the sharp sand. Firm the sand around the base, to exclude as much air as possible. Cuttings should be set about 6in (15cm) apart.

(5) Replace soil into the trench and firm it in place; don’t damage the cuttings as you do this. Keep the cuttings watered throughout summer. By November they should have rooted well and be ready for transplanting.

Roses in spuds

My allotment neighbour has a row of roses, which he took as rose cuttings. I asked how he took them. He simply plunges the cuttings into the ground. But his secret of success is the humble potato! Before planting cuttings, he pushes the bottom end into a small potato, which he believes keeps the cuttings moist as they develop roots. It sounds crazy, but his row of allotment roses is proof it works. Try it, and let us know how you get on.

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