By: Steve Jones, scvrose[at]aol[dot]com
The spring and fall months are the best times to propagate Old Garden Roses (OGRs) by taking cuttings. Cuttings are prepared by removing a section of a stem right after the rose finished blooming. You should have at least four budeyes, two for under the soil and two above. Remove the leaves from the two bottom budeyes and leave the top two leaves on. Use a rooting compound such as Root Tone or Dip and Grow, and follow the instructions. The cutting is placed in sterile potting soil in a clean container. Containers can range from 2″ to 1 gallon.
If you have the room, build a misting table. The misting table has fine water sprays that keep the cuttings moist. A heater underneath the pots could aid with rooting, especially if you live in a cold climate. Place the mister on an automatic cycle. Most misters are small ‘greenhouses’ and could be open in warm climates.
A friend showed me a method to propagate cuttings that works better than anything else I’ve tried. Prepare your cutting in the usual manner and place it into a one gallon pot filled with either a good sterile potting soil or sand, perlite, peat moss, or whatever mix that tickles your fancy. Cut off the bottom and remove the label from a 2 liter soda pop bottle and place the bottle, with cap on, over the cutting, slightly burying the edge into the soil. You’ll be surprised how well this works as the plastic jug works as a mini greenhouse, and allows plenty of room to add water around the outer edge without removing the bottle. The bottles are placed under the patio cover where they get little direct sun. The translucent and clear bottles seem to work the best, however, translucent bottles are much cooler and should be used for cuttings placed in the sun.
If fungus is a problem, treat all cuttings with a fourth strength fungicide. When the weather is warm or hot, fungus is likely to form. Keep the cuttings damp, but not dry or soaking wet. You must have sufficient moisture to create the necessary humidity within the bottle. You can place 1-4 cuttings per bottle, but 2 is ideal as not to create a tangled mass of roots.
When the cutting gets new growth, in about 1-2 months, undo the cap of the bottle but do not take it off at this time. You need to harden the cutting first. After a few more days, take the cap off entirely, then after a few more days, remove the bottle. I’ve heard this method referred to as the Poorman’s Greenhouse and the Houston Greenhouse. The bottles can be reused, just clean them with a Clorox/soap solution. Make sure you don’t propagate patented roses unless you have permission of the owner.
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