Home Blog A Rose Story Part 2: Propagating Old Roses
May 22nd 2023

A Rose Story Part 2: Propagating Old Roses

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One of my favorite things about old roses, in addition to their wild habit, their beautiful fragrance, and old-fashioned appearance is how easily many of them can be propagated through cuttings and grown on their own roots.

Own root roses, while they are harder to find, are heartier, healthier, and have a longer life. When you order them from specialty nurseries they are shipped in pots versus bare root like these pictured below.

The nice thing about old rose varieties is that they are no longer protected by plant patents and can be propagated legally. 

Rows of roses in potsMany modern roses like hybrid teas, floribundas, and many of the newer David Austin varieties are typically propagated through a process of grafting or budding where licensed growers who have permission to propagate patented varieties take plant material from the variety that they want and graft it onto a rootstock.

This process allows rose growers to produce them quickly, efficiently, and on a large commercial scale. These are large, bare root grafted roses, and the first ones I planted in the cutting garden.

Erin Benzakein holds a bundle of bare root rosesErin Benzakein planting bare root rosesIn my experience, the downside to grafted roses is that they are just not as hardy overall. If they experience extreme cold temperatures, the top half of a grafted variety will die and the rootstock will live on which you won’t realize until the following season when it flowers with an ugly magenta/red single bloom! If a non-grafted (own root) rose is killed to the ground it will grow back true to type which is great for gardeners in colder climates. In my experience, I’ve found that own root plants overall are healthier and longer lived. 

While I prefer growing own root roses, it’s certainly not required, and I still have quite a few grafted varieties in my garden that are growing wonderfully. But if given the choice, I prefer to buy own root when they are available.

Roses at Floret FarmIt is important to note that it is illegal to propagate patented varieties. Rose patents last for around 20 years so if there’s a variety that you’re considering propagating, you’ll want to be sure that at least 20 years have passed.

Here’s a great article about how to know which varieties of roses are protected by plant patents and which ones you can propagate freely.  

Pale pink roses growing wildI’m not an expert when it comes to propagating roses through cuttings, but I’ve had decent success over the years.

There is so much conflicting advice out there and it can be super overwhelming when you start researching the different methods—there are so many ways you can do it.

Light pink single roseFor me when it comes to propagating plants of any kind, especially roses, it’s a numbers game. I take as many cuttings as I possibly can knowing that many of them won’t make it.

So the more I do, the more chances I have to get it right. 

Spliced photo of team floret and light pink rosesAfter realizing that we would be able to take cuttings from Anne’s collection, which was an unexpected surprise, I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure that we had the highest success rate for this project possible so I reached out to Burling Leong at Burlington Roses (one of my favorite sources for rare and heirloom varieties), who generously shared her expertise. 

Trays of rose cuttings in a Floret greenhouseBurling recommended that we set up a misting system with a fine fog nozzle so that the cuttings could get good airflow but also adequate moisture.

She recommended a blend of two-thirds perlite and one-third peat moss or coco coir and using 50- or 72-cell trays rather than pots because they don’t require as much soil or space and we had a lot of cuttings to do.

Per her advice, I switched from a liquid rooting hormone to a powdered version called Hormex which was really easy to use.

Erin Benzakein holds a rose for Nina to smell Team Floret works on propagating rose cuttings in a Floret greenhouseTo prepare the cell trays we mixed the perlite and peat together, wetted it down, and filled the trays with the mix, tamping them down on the table to remove any air pockets.

Then Jill went through with a pencil and pre-poked holes in the center of each cell until it hit the bottom of the tray. Then the trays were ready to receive the cuttings. 

Erin Benzakein looks a bundles of heirloom rosesErin Benzakein works on propagating rose cuttingsWhen we were at Anne’s we cut roughly 12-in pieces of rose canes (that were the thickness of a pencil) off of the plants, bundled them by variety, and transported them from her garden to our farm in jars of water.

Team Floret works on propagating rose cuttings As soon as we got back to the farm we processed the cuttings by cutting each long cane down into smaller pieces that had at least three internodes (leaves) per section.

We then removed the lower leaves, typically leaving one set of leaves at the top of the stem if they weren’t wilted from the journey.

Jill Jorgensen dips a rose cutting in rooting powder Jill Jorgensen puts rose cuttings into a trayNext, we dipped the stem end into the rooting powder and slipped them down through the pre-poked holes in the cell tray, and gently firmed the soil around the stem. 

Trays of planted rose cuttings Trays of planted rose cuttingsOnce the trays were filled with cuttings, they were labeled with the variety name and date and set under the misters, which came on for a few minutes every hour during the day.

Then the hard part began … waiting to see if it worked. 

Trays of planted rose cuttingsTrays of planted rose cuttingsGenerally, cuttings take 4 to 6 weeks to root, sometimes longer depending on the variety.

Once we saw white roots start to form and poke out the bottom of the cell tray, we then very gently transplanted them into larger pots so they had room to spread out.

Close up of planted rose cuttingsThese tender little cuttings will spend the winter inside the greenhouse (which is kept just above freezing) and then they will be transplanted again into larger pots in the spring once they start putting on new growth.

I’m guessing we’ll grow them in pots for at least a year before planting them into the garden just to be sure that they have the best chance of survival. 

Close up of planted rose cuttings growingIf you are a rose-cutting expert and have any advice or tricks to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

In the next post, I’ll be sharing my favorite specialty rose nurseries here in the States plus a little more about how we’ve planted roses here on the farm.

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  1. Shyanne on

    I’ve been using rabbit manure to propogate my roses, since I was a little girl. Plant your rose start, use fresh rabbit manure at the base of the plant. Works everytime! You’ll get great new shoots, and can always add more, about once a month. I use Alaska 5-1-1 two weeks after, and a month after that Alaska 0-10-10.

  2. Aida on

    A bit late to the party, but loved reading this! I’m no expert, but when I cut roses in the garden, I often just stick them into the soil and cover them with a cut plastic bottle. Then forget about them for some time. Most of them take roots and grow beautifully.

  3. Tim Parker on

    I am NOT an expert. But what I have done is extremely easy and seems to work well. As soon as the petals drop I remove several (usually about 10) of the blossom stems. I remove all leaves except for two next to where the flower was, dip into powdered rooting hormone, and place all into a gallon ziplock bag with potting soil. I try as much as possible to make sure the cut ends are in the soil. I then put the bag(s) in the shade on the north side of the house on my deck. I usually get about 8 to root. After they root, I transplant into 4-inch pots and then just water. I fertilize the next spring when I put them into gallons. I give them to friends and tell why own-root roses are better.

  4. Kat Magoon on

    Thank you for this. My husband bought flowers and made me the most beautiful bouquet of when I was in the hospital in February. In there was an amazing white rose that got so full and hung on for two weeks looking great. There was also a pretty purple rose. I tried this with the spent blooms and have gotten some of my cuttings to take. I found that the ones that had tiny little leaf shoots or leaf buds on the cutting did the best. I also used my treecote grafting sealer on the cut tip at the top to prevent drying out.

  5. Jody on

    After reading the interview with Anne I’m inspired to try to propagate some of my own. I have a BEAUTIFUL old rose that was on my property when I purchased the house. The landscape person said they had tried to identity the rose without success. I also was given a darling rose, I think it might be some wild coastal variety ( I live on the Oregon coast ), that I would love to propagate for a garden area that I have planned. It’s kind of funny, but at an old house of mine I used to shove rose cuttings in holes that rats made in the garden with the idea that it would make for some discomfort, and just maybe discourage them so that they would leave, which of course did not work, but some of these cuttings rooted with no work at all!

  6. Darci Spiker on

    Question on light requirements after the cuttings are dipped and secured in their little trays. We don’t have a greenhouse, so would grow lights be better, or no? If yes…how close to the plant and hours per day. I’m thinking maybe no bc roots don’t need light anyway, but you mentioned trying to keep some leaves at the top which implies you’re expecting some photosynthesis, which needs light.
    Thanks so much for your sharing of your work and process. Ive got an amazing sweet pea crop every year thanks to your “how to grow sweet peas”. It’s so fun to learn these projects and keep them going!

  7. Carina on

    I’m so inspired now to make friends with neighbors and ask if I can take cuttings off their old roses to propagate. In the historic area of my town, there are lots of old homes with roses that I imagine are many decades old. I bet there are some treasures to be found! Thanks for doing this work and sharing your process with the rest of us.

  8. Cynthia Konicke on

    Amanda Stark of Stark Farms propagates Roses in a counter top Aerogarden . I had great success copying her method. She suggests cutting a 6 -8 “ stem that has flowered, dipping the base in rooting hormone and then placing in the coco coir pod. It worked really well and very simple for the hobby gardener.

  9. Kristina on

    I love this series . Thankyou so much ! It is admirable that you are saving this dear lady’s lifelong work

  10. Jennifer Kustwin on

    My neighbor has an old (40 plus years ) possibly rambling rose bush /shrub -perhaps Rosa Harison’s yellow . How is the best way to determine the variety ? Google lens showed me a couple different varieties. We want to transplant some after watching the rose episode, I can’t do it in trays so can it be direct to ground ?

  11. Kathy DeForest on

    My husband and I are buying a property where the old dilapidated house (original 1920) needs to be demolished. Against one wall are old, overgrown rose bushes that will have to come out. Can they be transplanted?

    In the mean time, I so much enjoy learning everything I can. Thank you Floret Flowers.

  12. Marcia on

    I’m going to have to try this. Years ago, about 1978, when I was preparing to get married, we visited the lady who would make our wedding cake. She lived out in the country. She had several beautiful rose bushes & I asked her about them. She said every time someone gave her roses, she would cut the bloom off of one, stick it in the ground and cover it with a glass canning jar. It seemed to work very well for her. I have a green thumb, having grown up on my grandparents tree nursery but not so with roses. :-)

  13. Martha on

    Wow! Reading through all these notes from last year was so helpful to read as folks describe their process of where to cut and what time of year, whether it should be outside or inside in a baggie depending on where you live. Enjoyed reading your notes Erin and coupling that with those above. Have a rose nearby that I admire every time I run past it and the fragrance is decadent. Hoping to see if I can successfully grow a cutting. You hooked me on David Austen years ago and my blooms are just finally beginning after I got a bush last year. Excited! Thanks!

  14. Norleen Cross on

    About 35 years ago, I moved to Northern California, and I found an old heirloom rose climbing American beauty that was like the one on my great grandparents farm in Utah. It did so well and had this beautiful scent that reminded me of him of the farm and a couple of years ago it got witches’-broom, and died, but I had taken a cutting from it and had placed it in another part of the yard where it didn’t do as well because it was shady so I moved it to the place for the original one was but when it started to bloom this spring the rose doesn’t have the scent that it did before. Is there a reason that taking a cutting or moving this rose would cause it to lose it sent ?

  15. Alicia Biggar on

    What a great idea to propagate roses! I can’t wait to try this! Please share any updates you have when you go to plant them in the ground.

  16. Lisa on

    Is there anyway you could do a email on the disease and bugs you must have on the Rose’s? Looks like you are planting them close together, powery mildew? Aphids? Controls? I realize heirlooms are more healthy etc

  17. Erica on

    I’m growing roses by seed. My first year, I had about a 3% success rate, which I was happy about. Hoping to increase that rate this year. We’ll see in the spring. If anyone has any resources to share on growing roses from seed, please comment! Thanks.

  18. Virginia Donnelly on

    I have had great success with hardwood cuttings. I take them in late fall or winter. Pencil size stems. Look for strong buds in the leaf joints. Since I have only grown them for my own use this is not a way to propagate large quantities. I make a hole in the area when I will put the cutting and make sure it has good drainage. I shorten my cuttings to about 4 to 8″, making a heel cutting. Dipped the cutting in rooting powder and inserted the cutting into the prepared spot with as many leaf nodes as possible under the ground. Firmed the soil around them and covered them with a clean gallon container, either glass or plastic. Provide shade if needed for warmer days. When they start to leaf out in spring, remove the jars. Watch them for wilting when they have tender leaves if the weather is warm and provide shade if needed. Allow to grow until the fall when they can be transplanted to their permanent home. I have also just poked a hole in a quart container full of potting soil and stuck a start in as described above. They have grown!

  19. Kathy Strong on

    A favorite trick for getting cuttings to take is to mix the hormex 50/50 with ground cinnamon. Cinnamon is,a natural fungicide and seems to work especially well when rooting rose cuttings. Try it!

  20. Tiff on

    I’ve found roses relatively easy to root. Just as described, pencil diameter canes 8-12” long, most of the leaves removed and ends dipped in powdered rooting hormone. I stick cuttings in good quality potting soil because that’s what I always have on hand, put the pot in the shade and forget about them for a few months. Usually most of the cuttings root.

  21. Marlee Hakes on

    Will definitely be trying my hand at this! I succefully rooted a couple roses last year, so I think im confident enough to try some more this year!

  22. Wende on

    This has been an exciting read, I’m anxious to see these Roses in bloom. My mother in law talks of Roses blooming in the woods when she and her father went on walks, she’ll be 96 in June. I’m sure those Roses are long gone by now, sure would have been fun to propagate some of those. Now I’m off to the next chapter in this Rose story.

  23. Lori Neely on

    Oh how amazing this is, for you and your team to be on this historical treasure hunt! The re-mapping, re-tagging and collecting samples to re-start more old hard-to-find treasures. You all are the perfect organized team to have been there to do the job. I would have loved to been a bee in the garden watching you all. This is so exciting and your friendship with Anne is such a blessing. Erin, thank you for always sharing your journeys with us. Thank you for putting sharing your words and pictures with us to learn from and connect with.

  24. Joanne on

    I recommend you check out Brad Jalbert Select Roses near my flower farm in Langley. He is renowned for his propagation and rose growing. As we; Brad creates new varieties. The location is about 30 minutes from Bellingham. Really enjoying this Blog. It is exciting and intense: the essence of what you have and continue to create at Floret with your team.

  25. Lori Oelfke on

    I am very excited about this! My 80-year-old parents in South Dakota have a rose bush that came from my grandparent’s farm. I hope to try your method with canes from their bush so that my sisters and I can carry this lovely rose bush into the future. Thank you for the inspiration.

  26. Hannah on

    I grow garden roses (so excited to see this series!) and haven’t been successful yet with rooted cuttings. I’m looking into “air layering” – you make a cut or take a notch from a rose bush cane (while the mother plant is still growing in the ground), put rooting hormone on the cut area, and wrap a medium around that cane with something (there are products like little black plastic balls that fit around the cane and hold the medium too). Not sure if this is making sense in writing? Then it begins to grow roots at that section (still attached to the live mother plant) and you clip it off later. Have not tried it yet, but I really like the idea because the cane is less likely to die because it’s still attached to the mother plant. Thank you for this series! P.S. Hope you have seen Felicia at Menagerie Flower is releasing a book about roses from a flower farmer perspective. I’m looking forward to it!

  27. Julie on

    I always wondered why you never featured roses on your website and concluded to myself that you, like me didn’t use harmful chemicals. Now I know you are a rose lover and have been collecting for years! No real surprise. Roses can be a lot of work and feeding, etc, except my ramblers,Earthkind rose and one David Austin. I have a request, you feature a gorgeous fully double pick rose on Part one of The Rose Story. It looks like a David Austin but which one? Please label the roses you feature in your photos. I live in Seattle where many roses I have grown did get disease so I am always on the look out for an urban garden size beauty.
    Thank you

  28. Janelle on

    Thank you so much for the fine description of details and associated images. This attention helps to truly understand a process and not just gloss over as a quick “how to”. Sure, there’s likely even more to it than this, but I often find people today gloss over these little details in their writing that are the glue to success! Thank you again for all the information.

  29. Marlin Martin on

    Thank you for this detailed article on propagating. I particularly appreciated the many pictures, I must be a visual learner. I tried propagating some of my roses this summer of 2022 and having attempted with over 100 cuttings and they all failed. So many people make it sound so easy, but as I began to restudy the process I noticed little things that I brushed over, for instance when you wrote, “For me when it comes to propagating plants of any kind, especially roses, it’s a numbers game. I take as many cuttings as I possibly can knowing that many of them won’t make it.” It’s a numbers game, now I know, had I understood that earlier it would have been less discouraging. I also noticed you said you mist them “for a few minutes every hour during the day”. I noticed there is a lot of difference on how often and long propagators mist. Again thank you for a great, detailed, informative article you are an excellent writer, and the pictures are superb, greatly helping me understand the written part. I studied the pictures to see the trays used, leaves on cuttings, layout of greenhouse, the bag being worn by someone cutting flowers similar to what fruit harvesters use, impressed by all the diligent workers. It is another year and I will try again. :)

  30. Mauricia on

    Thank you for your detailed story… Would you please share about diseases or any other challenges with these type of roses? Because of use of pesticides and fungicides on the modern and hybrids roses I have only choose to purchase and plant these much older own-root varieties to protect the wildlife, land and waterways …
    Many thanks in advance

  31. Barbara Halasz on

    I take a clean 2 liter empty pop bottle
    Cut the bottom leaving about 4″
    So this forms a dish then fill with potting soil. Cut the piece of rose that has 5 leaves and dip in rooting hormone place in soil securely. Mist the cutting and soil
    Put bottle back together with tape and put the cap on. It will become a greenhouse . Keep out of direct sun till roots start to form
    This has always worked for me

  32. Susan R on

    I tried getting a cutting from a friend’s rose bush to root and take to a vacation home in which the family owns (the friend who’s rose bush I took the cutting from passed away and I thought having a cutting of the roses growing at the vacation house would be a wonderful reminder for the kids. I tried a couple seperate cutting methods and both I dipped in rooting hormone powder but eventually in time all the stalks turned black and died. Not sure what I did wrong (except being an extreme novice) but your write up does help for sure, perhaps I’ll pay another visit to my friends house later this spring and ask if I can have another cutting from the new owners.

  33. Mary Buford on

    The photos that accompany your narratives are more than wonderful. I am using these and others of your “photo-journeys” to help my sister, a Master Gardner and retired physician, with her rehabilitation after a massive stroke. Her eyes light up each time we travel into your flower world. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have found your “place”!!!

    Mary B.

  34. Marie on

    You went to a lot of trouble to successfully root those roses. By comparison here in Ireland with our lovely “moist” climate, it’s spectacularly easy. I found the official advice to take cuttings in Autumn/winter did not work at all, but cuttings taken in May/June were so successful! I used to regularly take cuttings of old roses that I would spot at abandoned cottages and in ditches flowering in May and June. 9/10 rooted just fine by sticking them in the ground next to the wooden plan of a raised bed in the vegetable garden. There they could be safely forgotten about until the following year when I pruned them and transplanted them. Just to say I never used rooting powder. Although the weather is helpful for rooting, on the flip side, we do have problems with black spot and flower balling so there is a downside to the moisture and humidity.

  35. Melanie on

    I’m thoroughly enjoying these stories along with the photos! Really dreamy to read in January. ☺️ I don’t have rose-cutting advice, but one trick we use in zone 3b for planting grafted roses, is to plant the deep. Usually planting the graft section three to four inches below the soil level will help the plant to overwinter. I do prefer own-root roses though. One of my absolute favorites is “Thérèse Bugnet”. It’s beautiful and very hardy. Thanks for sharing part of your world with all of us! 💗

  36. Lizzie Swartz on

    I’ve grown quite a few roses from cuttings now, and it seems like you’re really doing all the right things. Some roses strike easier than others, so if it doesn’t work out, just keep trying :-) Taking cuttings in fall seems to work best for me, as the stem can grow roots instead of trying to produce flowers.

    Also, I’ve noticed that some roses won’t really take off until they’re actually in the ground, but SF is so mild, I don’t have to worry about the freezes.

    Good luck! This is an amazing project!!!

  37. Deborah on

    All sounds great and what a privilege. I, at great cost, ignored probably the best rose propagation advice I was given. My cuttings looked healthy at the end of spring. ‘Put them somewhere they won’t be disturbed and forget about them until next year’ Of course, I had a prod and disturbed the roots which were not as well developed as I imagined. Subsequently, they died off. If only I’d followed that advice (There were never any lovely long white roots – yours sound very strong 🤞🏻)

  38. Alex on

    Fascinating to watch all this happening! When I was little we lived in an old house that had incredibly fragrant hot pink roses and my mother made delicious rose petal preserves from them. I looked and looked to buy the variety but could never find it. Finally, I went back to the house where I used to live. The rose was still there, blooming its heart out, and I asked if I might take some cuttings. I took about 6 and followed some instructions on Google: “Place the cuttings in a zip lock bag in some lightly moistened potting soil and put it somewhere out of direct sunlight but in a bright window”. I put the ziplock on a north facing window and forgot about it for about 6 weeks. And this is what happened! I now have an entire fence filled with these incredible roses (and a Blaze thrown in). They only bloom once in early summer but they are more than worth it. Any idea what they are called? I tried to attach a photo but was unable to.

  39. Angela Minno on

    I’m really enjoying this series of posts! I LOVE roses! (My daughter is named Rose). I am unfortunately in a tricky climate for them (North Florida), but we do have some great locally adapted varieties. A friend showed me a great rooting method that I’ve used with a lot of success over the years to multiply the heirloom roses I’ve collected. It’s in no way practical for the scale you are growing on, but for a small-scale thing, works very well. I’ve rooted about 30 cuttings this way, and hardly lost any:


  40. Laura on

    My question is: where do you cut the cuttings? New growth or old? Does it matter?

  41. Von on

    I love old roses too and find antique climbers are the easiest to propagate by cuttings. I just stick them in the ground along my fence line.

  42. Keith Sherrill on

    For the love of flowers thank you for not being afraid to share information

  43. Ollie Inglis on

    I don’t know the name of it, but my great something uncle left them at the front gate of our old family house (built 1774). They didn’t fit into his wagon as he was moving away and he planted them saying that he’d be back for them. That was in the 1850s and he hasn’t yet come back for them, so there they they’ve. They are a deep red.

  44. ann on

    I am linking instructions from TX rose rustlers propagation for the home gardener using zipper plastic bags and detailed instructions where to cut. https://tlcfocus.com/paulbarden/hulse.html (Paul Barden is a rose breeder) Note: In the cool PNW I have to use bottom heat for my cuttings.

  45. Lisa on

    I love that you have a single petal variety pictured. They are very pretty and are good pollen sources for native bees. I found that out while researching a metallic green bee and found it is native and cannot feed on large, multi-petaled flowers.

  46. Laura on

    This is great information, thank you for sharing!

  47. Katie on

    A tip I learned about grafted roses: when you plant the bare root, make sure the grafted part is ~2ish inches below the soil line. The plant can create its own roots, above the graft, and become an “own root” rose.

  48. Laura on

    Bare root just means no soil. So when roses are dormant during winter they can be dug up, washed off and sent to you in a much smaller and ligther parcel. It would be a lot heavier if there was still soil aroubd the roots or in a pot. You can probably get about 10 bareroots in the space of 1 potted rose. Most bareroots are grafted roses as grafting is the most efficient way to produce rose in large quantities.

  49. Connie on

    Own root means not grafted on to a root stock such as Fortuniana. Bare root simply means a rose that is not potted when sold and shipped. Grafted and own root cam both be sold barefoot.

  50. Sidonie on

    I grew old roses many years ago ( also before children and life got in the way!) and had success with root cuttings, as long as the rose wasn’t grafted and was growing on its own roots. It had a higher success rate than stem cuttings for me.

  51. Patricia Westerfield on

    Thanks so much for simplifying propagation. I unsuccessfully failed to get old rises from my home in Ga. propagated- thankful with your knowledge I have a second (or more) chance!

  52. Gena on

    When you say “own root” grating are you referring to bare root? I have noticed when looking at purchasing roses on line you can get grafted or bare root.

  53. Maree Carter on

    I absolutely loved this! Thankyou for sharing.

  54. Mary Dondlinger on

    I have been propagating roses for nearly 20 years. This is my recipe for the “poor mans” propagation system with cuttings. I live in zone 5/Wisconsin. I take my cuttings at the beginning of summer or late spring. We can have a late freeze until the end of May. I cut a 12″ cane. I remove all leaves except the top most leaves. I propagate in previously used 1 gallon pots that are cleaned so that there is no bacterial residue. I put only perlite into the pot. I typically can start 10-12 cuttings per pot. I remove 2 inches of the green overlying the cambium of the rose cane (remove green layer to layer underneath that is white = cambium). I dip this end in water, powdered rooting hormone (until well coated). I then put about half of the cane into the perlite medium. I place pots in a shady spot (usually under my peonies) so that they get part day sun. I water the pots regularly (3-4 times weekly) so that they have adequate water (it is hard to overwater with perlite as it will drain out of the bottom). Roots typically are present at 6 weeks for most varieties. I normally plant them out into my landscaping once they have roots with a chicken wire cage around them to protect them from pests. I ususally have a 75-80 % success rate. This process works best in the cooler summers. I can’t do this in fall in Wisconsin because it does not give me enough time to get the plants established before it gets cold. I do not cover my roses. I mulch around the base of the plant with leaves in the fall. Remove leaves once it warms up in spring so that plants can breathe and don’t die. I am team own root roses (hardier and more disease resistance) and have ordered mine from Heirloom Roses (my first roses only cost $9.99 a little over two decades ago).

  55. Tracy on

    Erin, you’re such a beacon to so many gardeners. Please…set an example and do not use peat any longer. It’ an incredibly destructive harvesting process of a finite resource. Your wonderful success ensures that you cast a very long shadow; we all need you to use it as responsibly as possible!

  56. Helen Noren on

    This is AMAZING and fascinating!!!! GAH!!!

  57. Val Jalava on

    So amasing all the work that goes in to getting these cuttings ,they sure look good glad that you showed each stage
    I sure hope you will have the greatest success with this

  58. Roseman Creek Ranch on

    I was told by Greg Lowery, Vintage Gardens, that you should always propagate from a blooming stem. That it keeps the roses flowering the best .
    I would rather put those rooted, potted roses in a nice greenhouse bed for a year . Then dig them out and plant in the garden. I think roses don’t like pots very much. That they do better in the ground .
    I also do fall/early winter cuttings.
    Also, I think people can get discouraged with own root roses. Because the first two years they don’t do that much, verses the grafted roses which go to town and do their best the first two years . But the third year, watch out, that own root rose will blow you away .

  59. Mary Ann on

    all inspiring BUT you should NOT be using peat for anything. Sorry to rain on your parade but what good are roses if we undermine how the planet strives to be healthy. A great admirer.

  60. toni murray on

    erin & team
    confirmation gardening combination
    art & science!


    I live in zone 8 b and I find that fall is the best time here. I use plastic coke bottles with holes poked in the bottom. I cut off 1/3 of the top. I fill it with vermiculite. I water well. Then I poke a hole, put on rooting hormone put in the hole and almost any old rose will root by the winter. Sometimes I leave them in the bottles for a lot longer. I recently planted up some on a nice day here in January. All of this is done outside. Some of the Austin and hybrids take a little longer. I just keep them watered. I have been using this method for over 25 years. I give away most of them to friends.

  62. Amy on

    Thanks for sharing. Can you propagate lilac bushes ? Do you have any advice?

  63. Stephanie L. on

    Such informative tips here! I am going to try to save part of my grandparents rose bush this year. I enjoy seeing photos of the team in each step; as a visual person, this real engages me even more! Such a fascinating process propagating valuable and meaningful history.

  64. Sue Welch on

    We live in northern Utah and we have planted several varieties of roses in the past that haven’t survived our cold dry winters. Excited to learn about roses on their own roots. Will definitely be looking for them this year! Thank you!

  65. Emily on

    I’ve been growing old roses for about 40 years and I had better luck last year using willow tea as a rooting hormone. I would forage fresh willow growth (alongside a nearby stream) take off the leaves, cut the stems into 1″ pieces, then heat some boiling water and steep as you would a te, then strain. I then soaked the cuttings in the tea overnight and then used that water to water in the cuttings. I’ve tried powered rooting hormone in the past and though the success with both is hit and miss, I did do better with the tea.

  66. Michelle Mitchell-Brown on

    I love all of the information you are providing, especially from Part 2. Just goes to show that there is ALWAYS something more to learn. Today is my birthday, and this is such a great gift of learning. Thank you so much!

  67. Darcy MacPherson on

    One of my favorite roses to propagate was Rosa Chianti. A glorious, large red bloom and fragrant from David Austin. My tip, this one liked to be propagated in the morning hours. It seemed to make a different that was seen in spring growth.

  68. Amber Haines on

    I grew up with English roses that climbed the woods in wall outside our house. It’s what I smell when I think of home. This brought tears to my eyes that y’all got to do this. Thanks for letting me live through it a bit. 💚

  69. Kathy Ramsey on

    Hello gang. Seeing a new post from you in my email is like getting a gift when it’s not my birthday or a holiday. We have banks of wild roses that grow everywhere and have been around since I was a kid (a long time ago). It’s wonderful to drive around and get to enjoy them. Can I take cuttings from them and have success (if I do it properly)?
    Thank you for adding surprises and beauty to my life and for this great series.

  70. Alyssa on

    As someone who lives in the northern midwest, with bitterly cold winters, I totally agree that roses on their own root are the best bet. We have purchased almost exclusively David Austin roses, because we love their old-fashioned look and scent. Not every variety they have is available on its own root, but many are and we only choose those. We’ve really enjoyed getting into roses the past several years as well and can relate to wanting an English garden, like we’ve seen in our travels!

  71. Meghan Murphy on

    Thank you for this generous info! I grew up near a wonderful rose garden. I spent most of my adult life in an apartment in NYC but recently moved and finally have space to grow my own roses. I’ve been researching, obsessively reading helpmefind.com and the rose forum in Houzz and buying over the winter. Bookmarking your how to root!

  72. Jennifer McClendon on

    I’m so excited by these posts Erin and team!!!! My rose mentor is Gregg Lowry of Friends of the Vintage Roses. I’m lucky enough to have met him and realize he lives only a few miles away. Check them out for vintage roses! One trick he shared with me is you want to find cuttings of plants that are in their growing stage. That means cut a cane from a rose that has softer wood, right as the flower has begun to bloom. It increases success versus a cutting from hard wood. I’m new to the rose propagation world as well, but it’s so fun to experiment!

  73. Ashley Hallbauer on

    Thank you so much for the detailed instructions and for passing along the wisdom you’ve gained. Somehow you always make these big projects not seem so intimidating!

  74. Jennifer Petritz on

    I’m curious about the timing for rose cuttings. Looks like these were done in July- should they be in active growth for best results? Wonder if this will vary depending on where you are? I don’t grow many roses (yet!) but am intrigued by these own root varieties and whether they might be more resistant to rose rosette virus which is devastating in my part of the US (Atlanta, GA 7B)

  75. Michelle Milless on

    Thank you for the great instructions! I’ve always been curious about this process and you laid it out all so clearly.

  76. Kristen W. on

    Just finished reading the imbedded link about patenting roses. I have some serious mixed feelings about this. What would prevent someone from taking an unpatented variety and claiming it as their own, even though they didn’t “invent” it.

    Personally, if I helped Mother Nature bring a new variety into this world, I’d be very happy with getting my name on the birth certificate. And I could make my money for my time by propagating it myself. If someone buys it and propagates it for whatever reason, personal or commercial, that would be fine by me. A little nod of respect goes a long way. If I opened up a catalogue and saw something I helped bring about… I’d be dang happy about that.

    Ownership and money seem to really hinder the process of sharing IMHO. But maybe there is something I’m just not understanding.

  77. Kristen W on

    Oh my stars!!! Super post! Thanks for making it a blog that we can come back to. I’m inspired to try doing a cutting preservation project here in Norfolk, VA with camellias.

    I love when karma bites people in the keister. Floret definitely got a big dose of what y’all give. Thank you, Ann and family for inviting Erin and the team in so they have more to share. Warm and fuzzy.

    Trying to slow down reading… only two more of these to go.

  78. Penny Beal on

    You have no idea the pleasure this gives me sitting here in northwest Ontario at minus 25 degrees. Although only a few roses will grow in this area, they do grow here and give us great great pleasure

  79. Faron Shores on

    Hello! Susan with Restoration Rose in TN has a lot of experience propagating antique rose varieties – she is my rose guru and dear friend! I am a hobby antique rose grower in KY but am not set up for propagating yet. Wonderful tribute to your friend Anne and so happy the world will know more about saving these rare varieties with your efforts. Thank you! – Faron, Ryeco Gardens @ryecoblooms

  80. Molly Fedyna on

    I grow roses in the southeast and the noise I let out when I saw Prosperity (Pink) in a photo here was not very ladylike! Such a great variety!

  81. Marija Vujcic on

    Thank you for these good instructions! My husband and I live doing this but have t done it with roses yet. I just might try some with few own root roses we have..


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