Winter Rose Propagation

pizzuti(5A)September 6, 2011

I live in Colorado where dry air and irregular weather makes propagating roses from cutting extremely difficult. Under glass they keep drying out, rotting, drying out, rotting... I've gotten larger chunks of stem to successfully root but then they died.

It's also difficult that I live in a city apartment with little room for plants, but do my "experiments" at my parents' house where I grew up and can only check projects about once a week.

I think I tend to give cuttings "too much love" and have often found that I have the best luck with plants while breaking all advice and worse luck when I pamper them.

I'm wondering if anyone's ever had luck with "grandma's method" of sticking rose stems (perhaps ranging up to large branches) in the ground with a mason jar greenhouse in late fall or even winter. It never gets cold enough here for the ground to freeze consistently; it freezes and thaws numerous times. Also roses here are occasionally green into January by a South-facing brick wall and the warmth of the mason jar may make them evergreen. Intuitively, it seems that the cold might force partial dormancy which would keep the cuttings from drying as they slowly root, the cold suppresses fungus and insects, and the slower pace of winter gets more mileage with only weekly visits. Does anyone think this is possible or have thoughts that would help?

Beyond that, I have finally given in and set up a more controlled nursery with an artificial light that is soft but can be run for 16-20hrs a day, rather than trying to strike cuttings in a window in various types of homemade greenhouses. Will that be successful in winter?

My goal is to have roses that will be ready to begin growing in the ground this spring.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I used big peanut butter jars back when they were made of glass, with reasonable success. However, that was during the summer, and the biggest issue by far was getting the tiny plants through their first winter. I did hardwood cuttings over the winter once, but that didn't involve any type of greenhouse. Those just went in the ground. Percentage-wize, it didn't work nearly as well, but was easy enough to try many, many cuttings.

The current method is to start them in baggies under lights in the basement during the summer, keep them under the lights for the first winter, then plant them out.

The trick is to get the moisture right, and then not mess with it. The easiest way I've found to do that, is to thoroughly saturate the rooting medium, then use a small peat pot inside a baggie for the rooting. As the excess water drains from the pot, into the baggie, it gets dumped out. When the water stops draining, but there is condensation on the inside of the baggie, that's the right state. It can stay that way for several weeks without any messing around.

The biggest problem with winter cuttings is that it can only be done with cane hardy varieties.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your response. If you are saying it HAS happened (even with a low success rate), I'm excited to try it.

I've been noticing people report better success with cuttings using artificial light. Perhaps the biggest issue with cuttings is light, then.

I'm considering this: if a rooted rose plant will stop growing or decline in a certain level of shade, that means, in my sense, that a cutting also would stop growing or decline in the same level of shade because not only does it have the same need to feed itself that the mature plant does, it has the added burden of needing to grow roots that are completely absent.

But with cuttings you can never have them in direct sun because the heat will dry them out and kill them. That poses a huge problem - you have to give the cuttings the same energy as they would get receiving a few daily hours of direct sun, but give them that through a much dimmer light.

A way to do that could be keeping the softened light on the plants for longer hours a day; longer than an average day would last.

I wonder if the availability of light is the real reason people have such success with cuttings in May-June and less luck in winter: the days are drastically longer so a cutting can still establish roots despite the fact that it's shaded. I've seen people suggest that it's the place the parent plant is in with its dormancy cycle, but that doesn't make as much sense to me as light levels do.

So perhaps artificial light will make all the difference, because I can run it for 16-20 hours (or maybe more).

Question: you keep your lights on a timer? How many hours of light do you give them? Or are roses one of the few plants (I've heard there are a couple) that can deal with constant light?

OK another thought...since the cutting will stay cold in winter, the heat from the sun is not as much of an issue when it comes to the cutting drying out, so in that case I might be able to allow cuttings to be in direct sun outside with the warmth of a mason-jar greenhouse. I'm hoping that will also be a way to improve success rates (which are currently zero).

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Do a search for information on 'hardwood cuttings'. That's the official name for rooting over the winter. Basically, you take the cutting, stick it in the ground, and ignore it for the next 5 months. June cuttings are officially 'semi-hardwood', and require more babysitting.

I've always considered the trick behind artificial light isn't the light, but the improved temperature control from having the setup inside. Outside, over the typical six weeks it takes for a cutting to root, we can have temperatures anywhere from 40F to 105F, with absolutely no control over it. Inside, in the basement during that same span, the temperature stays between 70 and 80.

My lights have always been on a timer simply because that's how I've always done it. The timer daylength is 16 hours.

A big factor that hasn't been mentioned yet is the difference between rose classes. Same method, same everything, I've had 100% success with some varieties, and 0% with others.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some types just won't form roots from wood cuttings. My experience has been those which sucker usually don't root as easily. Those will longer internodal cane lengths have also tended not to root as easily nor as quickly. Ironically, the greater the number of prickles, the faster and easier they've seemed to root.

With HTs, generally, the greater the Foetida influence, the tougher they've been to root and the less successful own root the plants have been. Of course, these are generalizations made during years of exploring in my climate. Your mileage may well vary.

In my climate, the wrapping method is very good for winter to early spring propagation. If you haven't tried it yet, you might consider it. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Pushingtheroseenvelope Blog

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 7:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


You said "Some types just won't form roots from wood cuttings."

Everything I have ever tried to root... has at least callused. Does that mean it would be able to root? Or is it the next stage where those non-rooting varieties get tripped up?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 8:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where can one find cuttings in Denver or Colorado Springs? I love the 10 or so varieties of roses in our front and backyard, but I want to expand that collection to about 20. I hate to pay $30 per plant. Is there some place where I can buy cuttings from inexpensively?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


A couple options I can think of for cheaper plants:

1) Trade with other gardeners; neighbors, friends, etc. Look up your county's master gardener program and see what social events they have, or if there are any garden societies, where people would be willing to trade cuttings with you.

2) It's more difficult, but some people have had success propagating roses from cut bouquets. The reason it's harder is that they're not always easily-rooted varieties and they are also not taken under most ideal circumstances, but if the stems are still green, there's still life in them that can potentially grow into a plant, and some root easier than others. You might even try nabbing their clearance items cheaply when the flowers are fading. If you perfect your rooting technique experimenting with your existing roses before you get to that point, you might have better luck.

3) Go to your local nurseries late in the fall where they're trying to clear out their inventories of unsold plants. They often sometimes have cheap bare-root roses plants at places like Home Depot or other hardware stores in fall; they're trying to push them out fast before they die because they don't have greenhouses there. I once got 3 climbing roses for $2 each at Home Depot (but they were very sick plants). (I also love buying bulbs for REALLY cheap in November or December; sometimes deals like 100 daffodil bulbs for $3 or $4. That means they'll probably be planted too late in their dormancy to bloom the best in the spring and the flower stems will be short or stunted, but if you get varieties that "naturalize" and multiply on their own, you have a fantastic established population by the following year.)

4) Look through wholesale catalogs where you can get roses from the same companies your nurseries get them from, for a little cheaper.

5) Buy rose seed cheap from online vendors.

6) In the spring, grocery stores often sell roses in front of the store. They're usually really common "fad" varieties but one or two "knockouts" in a rose garden can't hurt and provide some constant, reliable color around your less-common and smaller varieties.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some varieties won't even callus, Pizzuti. Some callus and then won't differentiate into roots. Some will go that far and never develop a strong, vigorous root system.

It's as genetically controlled a trait as color, habit, health, fragrance, etc. You've probably tried to root roses which are vigorous enough to form callus and root. Weak growers, like many of the early HTs (teens and twenties of the last Century, and earlier), just don't develop decent root systems. Some won't root at all. I'm sure so many which aren't around anymore not only had health issues, but required budding to maintain them. Once they filtered down through the first line nurseries into the specialty ones which only produced own root, they died out. Generally, roses which sucker vigorously are difficult to root. Yes, there is an exception to every rule, and as Ralph Moore loved to say, "Just when you think you know the rules, the roses changes them."

A very famous old British exhibition rose, Sam McGredy, wouldn't root. It had to be budded, when the majority of roses were offered own root. It was such an awful plant, it had to be rebudded each year as it would only bloom well as a maiden, a first season budded plant.

Grow some like Grey Pearl, Fantan, I Zingari, even Lavender Pinocchio. They WILL root, but they won't generate the root system necessary to produce vigorous plants. They're only nearly acceptable budded. J&P advertised several years ago, their intentions of making Henry Fonda available as one of their New Generation Roses, those offered own root. They spoke too soon, learning Henry Fonda doesn't grow well own root. They could get it to root, but they couldn't get it to develop into an acceptable retail quality plant.

Something I discovered when culling weak and diseased ridden seedlings is those are generally the ones which don't have vigorous root systems under them. Perhaps some of them might develop into decent plants if I were to bud them, but I don't want to create roses which require being budded. If they don't develop well and perform acceptably on their own roots, out they go.

So, while you might get them to callus, and perhaps even form roots, it's no guaranty they will develop into decent plants. Kim

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 9:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, don't buy rose seed on line! Too often, they're not even roses, much less what is pictured. There are many who grow roses who are ready, willing and able to send you their rose hips for the cost of postage. I just sent a package to a fellow breeder in Australia of varieites not available there. The hope is some of the open pollinated seed may result in similar stock useful for creating interesting things. Explore this first before wasting your money on pigs in a poke. Kim

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@pizzuti, Thank you very much for your great suggestions. I am a newbie and can you use advice from the experts in this forum.

@roseseek, could you kindly direct me to growers who would can send rose hips for the cost of postage? Are you one?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thanks for the information. I don't know any of my rose cultivars by name. Our names for them are basically, "the white one," "the orange one," "the pink climber," "the yellow one," "the wild one we dug up from a field," etc.

I believe most of our roses are on their own rootstocks, because at least 3 varieties "doubled" somehow on their own over the years to produce new plants. When we transplanted them a few years ago, we found, in 3 instances, instead of the one plant we had planted, two were fused together: there would be two fully-formed plants, rougly 8 inches apart, with a "post" of something that was neither stem nor root (it was like a tree branch) connecting them about 5 inches beneath the surface. I am not sure if that was caused by a stem being buried and rooted, which continued to expand over the years, or if a root suckered into a new plant. But the plants and root systems were identical on both sides, so they are either own-rootstock roses or may as well be.

I think that is common here... in Colorado, we do not have regular predictable weather, so it may be that only the strongest rose varieties are sold. Regardless of soil moisture, air is always very dry. It's common to have a winter that is nearly devoid of precipitation save for very light, snows, or 2 months in a row without rain in summer. The soils in Colorado are, depending on where you live, either dense clay or rocky. We also have irregular temperatures; I can think of at least one year in which the roses retained tattered green leaves until spring when new growth emerged. Last year was a particularly "warm" winter save for ONE cold snap that smashed records and got to -20F. The rose canes froze all the way down to the ground during that week... strangely, some gladiolus we forgot to dig up in the fall survived and half of them came up in the spring(!).

I think that typically the more delicate rose varieties are accustomed to milder European climates, and we just don't see them. Everything that grows here has to be an aggressive rooter, and I think that grafted roses in Colorado also leads to risk that the plant will revert to its rootstock unless the rose is very hardy, so grafting is only done for mass-production purposes rather than to make the plants stronger.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 1:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gardenlover, I've been known to do that, sure! I'd be surprised if many others here wouldn't also be willing to do the same. Because of our different climates, you'd probably be better served getting hips from roses hardy to your climate, so probably from gardeners near where you are. I personally can't vouch for the hardiness of anything I grow (other than a few about whom I've received reports from those growing them in harsher climates) to much below the mid 30s F. That's extreme for where I am. I can vouch they'll endure 110+ aridity, though!

Most of my roses are without hips now due to ravaging squirrels and desert rats coming over from the State Park and neighbors. I've collected the crosses I made this year and sent seed to several who were interested, so there isn't much out there now. I'm game if you are.

Are there any rose lovers in climates more similar to Gardenlover's who has hips from roses better suited to her climate and who would be willing to send her some hips for postage? Kim

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Does anyone know how well rugosas root. I have a 'Pink Grootendorst' I'd like to try and am looking for cuttings of F. J. Grootendorst (the red one). Back in the last century ('92/'93) I tried propagating some heel cuttings and got 47 out of 49 cuttings taken mid October. Dumb luck, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks to the propagation thread, I've successfully rooted two cuttings from my parents' old Paul Scarlet rose (in Tulsa OK). They're leafing out and I'm thrilled! Now the question is, do I try to keep them under lights (which I don't have yet) through the winter and then plant them in the spring? They are from rather small diameter stems--cut in late July. I can't imagine that they'd survive a winter here unless entirely mulched, which doesn't sound healthy for the tops. Any suggestions for the small fry? Many thanks.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


If you want to be "safe" I would just keep it inside over the winter!

I did a quick Google search of Paul Scarlet and found that it can grow up to zone 11. Zone 11 is tropical, so that means your rose won't be killed by being grown as a houseplant for one winter without a dormancy.

If they're rooted, you don't need lights - they can grow in a windowsill.

But if you keep it a little cold (like if you have a window in your garage), you can allow it to go semi-dormant without subjecting it to the harsh winter outside. You might even be able to keep it in the garage to go completely dormant in the dark.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 9:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello! I, too, am trying winter propagation for the first time after successfully rooting cuttings earlier in the season. In case something I'm doing would be helpful to you, check out my blog.

As to where to get cuttings ... Gardeners are usually very generous and many older ones need help in their gardens. Check with your local (rose society?) garden clubs and see if they know of any who do need help. They frequently enjoy the company as much as the help. Offer to give them a little time in exchange for cuttings. You both win that way and you'll make some great friends.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Rambles

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In experiencing the dreaded creeping black death on my cuttings that rooted lovely and werein clear tubs so i could see the progression of the root growth.i was so thrilled that one yes one made it til finally it slowly blackened top down then the white roots ,i loved those little roots,died too! Help please,In in ky zone 6 b would anyone be interested in sending me rose seeds of O.G.R or any others i have nicitonia seeds to trade.i currently have darcey bussell the generous garden,r,Gertrude jekyll,boscobel,munsteadwood,lady Emma Hamilton,new dawn Jude the obscure,spirit of freedom ,zephrine drouhin,roseraie de la'hay,James galway,Mary rose,and Harley Carr. This spring will be they're second year in my garden. Some are showing hips will the seed produce plants ? If so when and how would i plant the rose hip seeds??? THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP!!!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seil zone 6b MI

Donna, yes, the seeds in the hips will produce roses but not the same as the rose they came from. Each seed is a new rose and can look very similar to the parent or completely different. You never know.

If the hips are ripe, most will turn red, yellow or orange, you can harvest them from the plant and store them in a cool place until you are ready to use them. There are several threads on here about starting rose seeds. Read through them and find one that you think will work well for you. It's really not very difficult and it's a fun project to do over the winter when you can't get outside to garden.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2014 at 4:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

fleur and all,

My neighbor has an own-root 'Magnifica' , a species hybrid rugosa that was rootbound in a pot, he liked the pot it was in, and didn't want to buy a new pot. , The plant had a large root system that filled an 8 gallon pot. The largest root was more than 1 and 1/2th inch thick and more than 2 and 1/2 feet long. ( I uncoiled it when I potted the section up)
I divided the plant, leaving c. 2/3rds of the mother plant, (mother plant "A") and asked if I could keep the leftover 1/3rd as an experiment. Within 4 months the section I had kept (section "B" )had grown into a vigorous plant of c. 2 and 1/2 ' tall by 2 and 3/4ths feet wide. This is in California where we have a long growing season. After it reached that size I divided it, and gave the new division (Section "C") to another neighbor.
This worked well for me. It is rather like using a sucker to propagate a new plant, only separating a larger piece of the plant, using both canopy and roots. I pruned the Magnifica' a month before I divided it, so the canes were c. 1 foot long, in order to reduce foliage mass, and the resulting dehydration from the stress of division.
I would only try dividing a rosebush that had a large root system; Or on a plant that I would not mind losing.
I'll next try dividing from a Gallica class rose ;a large 'Belle Sultane' which has colonized an area of c. 6 feet wide square in a wildish place in my garden. I plan on dividing Belle Sultane into 4 or more plants, by pruning it down this month in December, and then use a pruning saw and shovel, in about a month, and split the plant in fourths.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2014 at 8:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seil zone 6b MI

A dear friend of mine had a lovely rose growing on her fence. Her son hated the rose because it had gotten so big (and was nasty thorny) he couldn't get near it to mow the lawn around it. So he took a shovel and sliced the thing in thirds and pulled up two of the pieces. She, of course, had a fit and made him plant the other two piece back in the ground in new spots. She now has three BIG beautiful and healthy roses instead of one! And he has a worse time than ever mowing, lol.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2014 at 7:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is fortunate for you, Luxrosa, that finding leather wear is fairly easy in SF.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

If you want to see the cutting procedure done on a video go to Utube/ Decatur roses.

I was fortunate to have our local PBS Station come out and film. I included starting a cutting and how it's done.

I have been growing cutting for 30 years. I

think I know how it's done. I get 95% success rate!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2015 at 10:38AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Wish me luck!
So, I recently got the chance to get a few Red Intuition...
Joe Moose, Zone 9A
Why does one rose's seeds sprout more than another?
I just planted rose seeds from several of my roses...
how do I propagate a rose bush?
and when should I transplant a rosebush that it will...
mary grether
I have roots!
Thanks to all the lovely suggestions and help posted...
Beth9116 zone 8a TX
Question about growing from seed
So I looked outside today now that the snow has cleared...
Sponsored Products
All-season Beauty Stripe 330 Thread Count White Down Comforter
Martha Stewart Area Rug: Gracious Garden Winter's Day 5' x 8' Wool
Home Depot
Micha LED Dark Bronze Mini Pendant with Gold Shade
$270.00 | Bellacor
Winter White Black and White Flower Shade Ovo Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Dover VX Hanging Outdoor Wall Sconce by Maxim Lighting
$188.00 | Lumens
Berry Evergreens Christmas Wreath Christmas Decor
$149.00 | FRONTGATE
Winter White Gray Dupioni Silk Shade Ovo Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
City - 11" x 14"
Grandin Road
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™