Rose Water Propagation: Learn About Rooting Roses In Water

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

There are many ways to propagateyour favorite roses, but rooting roses in water is one of the easiest.Unlike certain other methods, propagating roses in water will result in a plantvery much like the parent plant. Read on to learn about rose water propagation.

Propagating Roses in Water

Here are the simple steps for rooting rose cuttings inwater:

  • Early summer is prime time for rose water propagation. Be sure the parent plant is growing well and free of pests or disease.
  • Use a clean knife or pruners to cut a rose stem measuring about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) long. Make the cut just below node, which is the point where a leaf attaches to the stem. Pinch off the lower leaves but leave the top two or three intact. Also, remove all flowers and buds.
  • Fill a clean jar about halfway with lukewarm water, then place the rose cuttings in the jar. Be sure no leaves are under the water, as the rose stem may rot. Place the jar in bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Replace the water with fresh water every three to five days, or whenever the water begins to look brackish. Rooting roses in water generally takes three or four weeks, but don’t give up if you don’t see roots that quickly. Rose water propagation may take longer.
  • Fill a small pot with fresh potting soil when the roots are 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) long. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom. Moisten the potting mix lightly and insert the rooted cutting.
  • Place the rose cutting back in bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid hot, intense light.
  • Water the new rose bush as needed to keep the potting soil moist, but never soggy. Empty the drainage saucer after a few minutes and never let the pot stand in water.

Transplant the rose outdoors when the plant is well established, typically the following spring.

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Rose Propagation
From Cuttings

By Dr. William C. Welch
Professor and Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

ne of the joys of growing old roses is the fact that most of them thrive as own root plants that is, they will grow as well - or better - from cuttings as they do when grafted onto a rootstock, the way most modern roses are grown and sold. Rooting cuttings is a relatively simple matter. It is the way most old roses were handed down from one family member or friend to another, and the way many old rose collectors prefer growing them today. Fortunately for us in Texas and the South, most of our better adapted old roses are particularly well adapted to growing on their own roots and can be successfully propagated by anyone interested in making the effort. Remember that roses still under patent (17 years from date of introduction) cannot be legally propagated without paying a royalty to the holder of the patent.

Some old roses, like those in the Gallica and Rugosa classes, tend to sucker badly and may spread into areas where they are not welcome. If this is a concern, varieties that sucker may be grafted or budded onto a rootstock that does not have this characteristic, such as R. fortuniana or R. multiflora.

The following suggestions for rooting rose cuttings are not likely to result in 90 to 100 percent rooting, but neither do they require special structures, watering systems, or daily supervision. Success will vary because of the large number of variables involved, but many people report 50 to 75 percent of the cuttings they treat in this manner develop into usable plants.

  • When to take the cuttings
    Roses may be rooted at any time of the year, but for home gardeners, success is much more likely during the cool months from November through February. Late fall is a favorite time because there are usually a few blossoms still remaining on everblooming types to identify them.

How to take cuttings
The easiest part of the rose to root is the tip of stems that have recently bloomed. Ideally, these tips have withered flowers, or hips, beginning to form. The flower heads or hips should be removed down to the first set of healthy leaves. Cuttings should be 6 to 8 inches long and be cut from the parent plant with a sharp knife or pruning shears at about a 45 degree angle. It is important that the cuttings not be allowed to dry out or be exposed to extreme heat or cold, at least until they are stuck into the rooting medium. Experienced old rose collectors often carry styrofoam ice chests, plastic bags, a small amount of water, and ice if they are likely to be in very hot conditions before getting the cuttings to the rooting area. Cuttings may be stored for several days in this manner, if necessary, but the sooner they are stuck, the better.

Preparing the Cuttings
The use of rooting hormones has been shown to increase the percentage of cuttings to root and the number of roots per cutting, but it is not necessary for success. Rooting hormones are commercially available in powder form and are popular with some rose growers. Others also like to use one-inch sections of cut branches from willows, cut both horizontally and laterally, to soak in a pan of water that has been brought to a rolling boil (rainwater is ideal). Allow the willow pieces to steep in the water overnight. It should look like weak tea. Remove the willow pieces and soak the rose cuttings in the concoction for several hours. It is helpful to recut the rose cuttings about a half-inch from the ends before placing in the willow water. Willow water may be prepared in advance to facilitate the process. It may also be used for the initial watering of the newly stuck cuttings. Although it sounds a bit far out, research at the Ohio State University has shown that willows (apparently any species of Salix) contain substances that can induce rooting and prevent 'damping off' or canker in other plants. This substance can be successfully removed from the willow wood by the method described, and has been shown to improve the percentage of cuttings rooting in controlled experiments.

Selecting the Location and Sticking the Cuttings
Selecting the site for sticking the cuttings is very important. Roses prefer a sunny location, but for rooting purposes it is usually best that they be shielded from the hot afternoon sun. Bright light, but not direct sunlight, is ideal. It is also good if a location can be chosen where the soil is sandy and well-drained, and where drip from the roof helps to keep the area moist. An east or north facing flower bed against a house or other structure is usually a good choice. The sand or sandy soil should be amended with l/4 to l/3 peat moss, composted pine bark, or similar material. The cutting bed should be well tilled or spaded to insure a good blend of the soil and organic materials.

Foliage on the lower half of the cuttings should be removed, but allowed to remain on the upper part. After dipping into powdered rooting hormone, soaking in willow water, or with no hormone treatment at all, the cuttings are ready to stick into the media. If a powdered hormone is used, remove some of the material from the container, roll or dip each cutting into the material and tap the cutting lightly to remove any loose powder. Use a wooden pencil or dibble to make a hole for each individual cutting. The cuttings should be stuck several inches or about half the length of the cutting into the media. This will prevent damaging the cutting as it is stuck or unnecessarily removing rooting hormone. Place the cuttings 6 or 8 inches apart in rows, and label each row with a permanent marker stating the variety, if known, or the site where collected. Also include the date the cuttings were stuck. Be sure to firm the soil carefully around each cutting and water thoroughly. Some growers like to use large plastic or styrofoam cups with drainage holes added, sinking the whole thing in the bed to facilitate later removal. This method requires more careful monitoring, since the individual pots will dry out more quickly than cuttings placed directly in the bed.

Other methods include sticking cuttings in a plastic flower pot of potting medium and bringing a clear, thin polyplastic bag, such as vegetable produce is sacked in, up over the pot and cuttings, twisted shut at the top and secured with a rubber band or 'twistem.' A stick or clipped wire clothes hanger in the pot higher than the cuttings keeps the bag from collapsing down around the plant material. This will keep humidity constant inside the bag, while the cuttings are growing roots. Sometimes a glass jar is placed over cuttings planted in the flower bed to keep the plants humid while getting established. You must be sure that direct sun does not overheat the contents of the jar. It is also possible to put trimmed rose lengths into potting mix in a ziplock bag which is then hung up on a clothesline in bright shade. It will be easy to tell when roots have appeared as they will be seen through the transparent plastic.

Care During the Rooting Period
It is especially important early in the rooting period of the cuttings that they not be allowed to dry out. This may require watering every other day or so if rain does not occur. It may not be necessary to provide cold protection to the rooting cuttings in most of Texas and the Gulf Coast, but in the upper South extreme cold can cause damage that could have been prevented by covering for a few hours or days.

During the first month or two after being stuck, the cuttings begin to develop what is called 'callus tissue'. It is a swelling on the cutting tip and other areas where roots are to develop. As winter begins to turn to spring, the cuttings will sprout roots and new growth. This is a critical time for the new plants and it is important that they not be allowed to dry out. Although the plants are usually well rooted by late April or May, it is best to leave them in place until the next fall or winter. The young plants are extremely vulnerable to stress the first summer and are best left to develop a good root system.

Transplanting to a Permanent Location
By late fall or winter the young plants should be ready to move to a permanent location in the landscape. They will be small, but most varieties grow quickly and produce a fair quantity of flowers by next spring. To protect them from wind damage, it is a good idea to prune back any tall shoots and thin the plants sparingly, if possible, at the time they are being transplanted. During the naturally dormant period in late winter the plants may be dug either with a ball of soil or bare root. For best results, plant in locations receiving at least a half day of sun in well prepared soil. A regular fertilizer program may be started by mid-spring.

Roses forum→Propagating rose problems

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Please note . the statement above is a generalization. There are so many variables that can cause a cutting to fail. I used to have a 90% take when I lived in southern California, but until this year, I have done an excellent job of getting brown sticks. In my climate in northern California, everything seems to be dictated by timing. I am still experimenting to find the best method to use up here.

When you try to root a cutting, the energy to create roots and even new leaves all comes from the nutrients stored in the cutting. When it has dried up and turned brown, there are no more nutrients available to the cutting and the cutting will fail to root.

Kim Rupert has been my rose mentor and friend for many years. He has written a blog about using what is called the "burrito method" to propagate roses. I haven't tried it yet because I do not have the proper set up to hold the cuttings at a constant temperature.

The burrito method was first described on the Rose Hybridizers Association Forum and Kim started experimenting with that method and found that it had to be tweaked for different climates . all those other variables.

Here's a link to the beginning of his blog and he takes you through the process as he has learned how to use this method very successfully. I am going to try a variation of it this spring.

Pb66 -- I applaud your efforts to grow roses from cuttings. I have spent literally years in learning how to do it well. I have killed hundreds of cuttings -- so just realize there is a learning curve.
From the text and photos you posted I would definitely say your soil media is TOO WET!

Also, if the most of the cuttings' leaves have either turned yellow and/or fallen off - AND - the stems have turned black then the cuttings are not going to recover or do well.
But even if the leaves have all fallen off as long as the stems are green and turgid (holding moisture) there is still a 50/50 chance they will eventually root. But that is not the ideal to shoot for.

Now I want to say right here that I have come across dozens of methods of rooting roses -- and each one has their proponents.
Just like every other aspect of growing roses (watering, soils, fertilizing, etc) every grower eventually settles on a method that works for them.

That being said I have found there to be certain CONSTANTS.
These are:
* Taking and rooting cutting at the optimum time of year for your area. In my Southern Calif locale that is from mid-April to the end of October. I know someone in Texas who gets her best results in Winter -- but she has a greenhouse.
* Using a high quality, fast-draining soil media. My mix of choice is Sunshine #4 Advanced. Here's a link to an online source:
Moisten the soil media lightly and squeeze out any excess water with your hands. The media should be lightly damp -- NOT soggy. If you cover your cuttings (see below) then you won't ever have to water them again while they are in the process of rooting.
* Warm temperatures -- from the mid 60's to the high 70's. That is indoors assuming you are propagating indoors as I do.
* High humidity. I use a grow tray with a dome over the the cuttings. Its like a mini greenhouse. Here's a link:
* Indirect light. Soft indirect sunlight is good. I use a fluorescent grow light.

That's it.
If you followed the above I would guarantee you would improve your success with cuttings exponentially.

Pb66 -- here's my recommendation to salvage the cuttings you have.
1. Save just the ones with green stems and/or some green leaves.
2. Dip the cuttings again in Dip 'n Grow at the 1- to -10 dilution rate.
3. Re-pot the cuttings in a quality media as above.
4. Cover the cuttings either with a dome or with inverted clear plastic cups over each pot.
IMPORTANT -- if you cover your cuttings you won't ever have to water them again until they have rooted. I have had cuttings in my grow trays for three months and more in media that was just moistened at the beginning.

Just a few more comments:
-- In the height of my propagation season (June to September) my cuttings will root within 10 days to 3 weeks.
At that point they get transplanted into a coldframe outdoors.
-- Some rose varieties are much easier to root than others. Generally miniatures are the easiest, followed by polyanthas and floribundas. Hybrid Teas, Climbers and OGR's are the hardest -- in my experience.

Here's a link to my Photobucket site with a few photos of my propagation setup.

Let me know if this helps -- or just is too much information to digest all at once.

Thanks for all the help! I love this site :)

How to Propagate Roses:

1. Locate a stem on your rose plant that's healthy and relatively new. Using sharp pruning shears, remove several sections about 6 to 8 inches in length, cutting at a 45-degree angle.

2. Remove any buds, leaves or smaller stems. Store the cutting in water until ready to use.

3. Use a permanent marker to write the rose variety on one end of each stem. This will ensure you don't get them mixed up!

4. Now you'll create a mini "greenhouse" to protect your cuttings as they take root. Start by using a hobby knife to cut the top off of an empty plastic bottle. (It's a great way to recycle used soda bottles!) Don't cut all the way through though—leave a small bit attached to act as a hinge.

5. In a separate large container, make your potting mixture by combining perlite (an additive used to aerate soil) and potting soil. The amount will depend on the number of containers you want to fill, but you'll want to stick to a ratio of 70 percent perlite to 30 percent soil.

6. Fill each bottle halfway with the growing mixture.

7. Use your shears to scrape off the outer layer of each cutting, about half an inch from the base. (Don't strip the side that's labeled!)

8. Wet the exposed section, then sprinkle with rooting hormone (or just dip it straight into the powder).

9. Plant the cutting into the growing mixture, covering about 60 percent of the stem. If you have thinner cuttings, you can plant up to three per container.

11. Tape the bottle back together.

12. Keep your roses in a sunny spot and continue to water every other day.

Your roses should begin to take root within a month or two. Once the roots are well established (or if leaves begin to sprout), you can move the plants to a container or flower bed!

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Learn more about propagating roses

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Watch the video: Grow rose cuttings in water

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