Roses are some of the most beautiful flowers out there and although there are many types and sub-species of this beautiful plant they are almost all quite pretentious in regards to growing conditions. Growing roses isn’t for everybody as they require steady attention and, preferably a real greenhouse or small, well maintained garden. This doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them at an initial stage in pots, of course, in fact initially it is preferable that you use a pot and jar method to get them rooting. The good news is that roses are cheaper and easier to grow than tulips, for instance as they can be grown from cuttings.
Cuttings are the basic thing you’ll need if you want to learn how to grow roses from cuttings. You need to properly select your cutting ‘donors’ first as, although both new and old wood are good for cuttings you need stems that are mature enough to survive in soil after being planted. Generally speaking, after the stem has bloomed it is ready for cutting in the case of new planted roses. In the case of older ones ( on repeat-flowering varieties, for instance) just making sure that you are selecting one of the younger stems. Older wood can work but it is usually harder to maintain and get growing. Older wood also tends to be closer to the plant’s root and thus have fewer healthy leaves.
Once you’ve selected your cutting, cut it to about 25 cm (10 in) long making sure to remove the growing tip and most of the leaves, leaving one or a few near the top. Some varieties will grow from cuttings without any leaves left at all but your best bet as a beginner rose gardener is to have some cuttings with leaves. You should also notch or crest the other end a bit as wounding the bit that goes into the soil will result in more rooting and thus faster growth. Clean the green skin off the first inch of the stem and crest it a bit. You can use rooting hormone for your roses though it is not really necessary. Rooting hormones promote the rooting of the cutting and, again, shave a few days in the case of healthy cuttings. For less healthy cuttings and leafless ones hormones are advised. Don’t forget to mist over the leaves while you’re preparing the cuttings so they don’t wilt away.
Planting the Cuttings
Depending on where you live you should plant your cuttings in small pots or directly into a specially prepared portion of your greenhouse or garden. In milder climates you can grow your cuttings outside in the ground (in a shaded area) as long as you water them regularly and make sure that they’re not disturbed by insects. Make sure to fertilise the growing area first or dig a small patch and mix in some perlite. You can do this to great effect for pots as well. Use flower soil mixed with perlite and plant your cuttings in small pots. During the fall or in mild summers you can keep them outside in a shaded area, otherwise put them indoor. A good tip for growing from cuttings is to cover each cutting with a large mason jar or a large soda bottle cut in half, creating greenhouse conditions for the cuttings. This is especially useful for growing in less than ideal places or temperatures. Plant your cuttings in spring or early autumn for best results and don’t forget to water them regularly. It usually takes about two months for the cuttings to mature so plan accordingly. You should go over the small cuttings with a mister every now and then. Observe your plants when you do. If they look like they’re not exactly thriving you might be doing something wrong.
Your roses will need to be moved once the cuttings have matured. Switch them to a larger pot or a patch of your garden that you have reserved for them. Wait for them to bloom in spring before you attempt to harvest them for cuttings. And enjoy one of the most beautiful plants in the entire world! Now you know how to grow roses from cuttings so go and teach others as well!
Growing Roses is not only a great pastime and in many cases good exercise (you try carrying bags of compost from the shed several times a week!) but an exercise in creativity and, in some cases an art form. Pruning roses is that art form. Think about it: A rose bush is nothing but a thorn thicket unless you properly maintain it. Look at some wild roses and then look at a posh British garden and you’ll see the difference. Just like the sculptor takes stone and turns it into a statue or the potter makes a pot from clay so too does the rose gardener make something beautiful out of something wild.
Pruning is Important
Rose Pruning is not only an exercise in aesthetics. You need to regularly prune rose bushes to keep them healthy. Pruning encourages new growth as long as it’s done properly and helps remove dead or old wood, keeping your plants growing. Another issue that arises with roses growing too thick is that lack of air circulation and light hinder development and pruning helps with that. Finally pruning at the right time encourages your flowers to bloom again.
The Tools of the Trade
Of course, you can’t start pruning roses with a novelty paper scissor nor can you just start to cut without knowing some basic things about your plants. You will need a good and sharp pair of pruners, preferably By-pass pruners and, if you have a large climbing rose bush or similar, a pair of long handle loopers. You’ll also need a pair of gardening gloves but you probably have those already. Your tools should always be kept clean and sharp and you should take care to avoid using the same pair of pruners used on a diseased plant on a healthy one without cleaning them thoroughly first.
There is a certain technique to pruning. You need to make your cuts clean and precise and at a 45 degree angle facing away from the bud. Cuts should be made a cm or less above a bud and the cut should not be sloping towards the bud or water might gather on it and cause it to rot or spoil the bloom. You should also always trim dead or broken wood as well as dying or diseased wood. The latter two should be cut without any second thoughts and from near the start of the problem. Cut any small or weak branches as well as they might buckle and break under the weight of a new bloom. Deal with any insect infestation such as cane borers quicly and mercilessly. If you have any transplanted growths onto older roots take care so that your plant doesn’t develop any suckers. Suckers are stalks that have developed from the original root, will not bloom and will just drain the sap from your plant. Unfortunately they are quite hard to wipe out and require you to dig and prune them at the point of growth on the root, just cutting the growth will encourage new suckers.
When and How
You should start your pruning in spring if you live in a temperate area. The best season varies from continent to continent and from area to area but, generally speaking spring is the best time for it. The species also is very important when deciding how to prune. It is important to take note that all roses regardless of recommendations should be pruned for dead or diseased wood.
Some species require no pruning at all, except to shape them and cutting dead wood. Damascus and Gallica roses are perfect examples of this. Floribunda roses should be pruned hard as they bloom on new growth. Cut everything but a few stems in spring. Rambler roses should be pruned after blooming as they only bloom once and on old wood. The most work you’ll do will likely be on roses that bloom repeatedly as you’ll want to have as many flowers in a season as possible. Bourbon and Portland roses are repeat bloomers and should be pruned carefully before flowering (as they bloom on new and old wood alike). You can prune them more after the first bloom. Shrub roses should be left to mature for a few years, only pruned into shape then prune one third of the oldest canes each year. Climbers should also be pruned after flowering to keep them from growing out of control.
There you have it. Now, you too can start pruning and shaping your rose garden to perfection. Just follow these handy tips and don’t forget to wear gloves to avoid getting stung.