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What are the Different Methods for Rose Propagation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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Several different methods are in use for rose propagation. Many of these techniques are easy enough for beginning gardeners to use, and people who are interested in exploring roses can get started with just a few basic tools. When preparing to propagate roses, gardeners should be aware that some hybrids are patented and that propagation of such plants may not be legal, especially if those plants are being grown for commercial sale. While companies are unlikely to prosecute a gardener growing roses in a home garden, if rose plants or cut roses are sold and they are from patented hybrids which have been propagated, the developer of the hybrid may take exception.

The classic method of rose propagation is to take cuttings. Cuttings root easily and quickly when they are handled properly, and they create clones of the parent plant. This allows people to preserve heritage and antique roses, by simply taking a cutting from a plant of interest. Cuttings can be grown in a number of different mediums, with the primary concern being the need to promote high humidity without making the conditions too wet.

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Cuttings are best taken in spring, when the plant is starting to recover from winter dormancy. An area of new growth without any buds should be selected and cut with a clean, sharp pair of shears. Some people dip rose cuttings in rooting hormones, while others simply insert them into soil as is. The rose may be covered with a bag or clear container to increase humidity without blocking light, and the cuttings can be grown directly in the garden soil, or in a greenhouse. Gardeners can also engage in cutting exchanges, shipping cuttings from rare roses by mail to other rose enthusiasts; gardening forums often have a specific area for coordinating cutting and seed exchanges.

Another option, used by professional nurseries, is grafting. With grafting, a cutting from a rose someone wants to propagate is grafted onto existing rootstock. This method of rose propagation ensures that the rootstock is strong and hardy, increasing the chance that the rose will survive. People can also use a rose propagation technique known as air layering, in which a branch is injured to promote the growth of roots.

Finally, it is also possible to grow roses from seed. For this method of rose propagation, a flower needs to be left on the bush and allowed to form a hip, which can be split open to access the seeds. However, growing from seeds will produce a hybrid, and can be hit and miss because it's impossible to control which roses pollinate others. Sometimes this results in a happy mistake, and at other times, it results in a plant which is not terribly exciting.

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