By Sarah Wilson published
It’s easy to learn how to take rose cuttings from any variety of rose that’s strong and thriving. Just make sure you choose a healthy stem from this season’s growth. These cuttings can then be potted up and you can eventually use them to fill your garden with heavenly roses.
You can take rose cuttings in autumn or winter (known as hardwood cuttings) and in spring or summer (known as softwood cuttings, which is generally the easiest option). You can also take semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer or early autumn. So pretty much all year round then, frosts aside.
Keep reading for our top tips, then if you want to try it with other plant varieties too you'll find more advice in our guide on how to take cuttings from plants.
Can you grow roses from cuttings?
You will need to be patient, but yes you can get really good results growing roses from cuttings. It's a great way to get plenty of free plants to fill your garden borders. They can be taken from any type of rose bush, but always make sure your ‘parent’ plant is healthy and free of disease for the best chance of success. It’s generally better to take cuttings in spring or early summer, but you can give it a go at nearly any time of the year.
How to take rose cuttings in spring
Spring and summer are a good time for taking cuttings to root, when the flexible new growth appears with leaves but not many flowers. Take a 20cm section of new stem, cutting it at a 45-degree angle. It should ideally be the thickness of a pencil. Snip just below a bloom that’s finished flowering (if there is one). Generally the best cuttings for rooting come from the sides of the bush, rather than the centre. Remove any flowers or flower buds along the stem, which should then root readily.
How to take rose cuttings in winter
From mid-autumn to later winter it's the time to take hardwood cuttings. Avoid doing this when it’s frosty though, especially if you want to plant your cuttings in a trench as the ground could be frozen. The ideal time is just before the buds start to burst open in spring. Select a healthy stem from the most recent growth. Using your best secateurs, cut cleanly above a bud at an angle (this forms the top of the cutting), and horizontally at the bottom, then position it in the prepared trench or container.
Rooting rose cuttings in water
Prepare a selection of stems in the same way but cut them slightly shorter, around 10-15cm long. Fill a clean jar half way up with lukewarm water and place your cuttings in the jar. Place the jar in a bright spot but make sure it's not in direct sunlight. Refresh the water every couple of days. Your cuttings will generally take around four weeks to root. Then transfer the rooted cuttings to pots filled with fresh compost. Plant out in the garden when the cuttings are well-established.
Step-by step guide to taking rose cuttings
1. Dig a narrow trench in a secluded part of the garden that gets some shade during the hottest part of the day. It should be around 15cm deep. Add a layer of sharp sand in the bottom. Alternatively fill a large pot with a 50/50 mix of multi-purpose compost and horticultural grit.
2. Choose a stem – about the thickness of a pencil – from the rose you wish to propagate. The wood should be straight (no kinks), ripe (you can tell by being able to snap off a thorn cleanly), and young (from this year’s growth).
3. Using sharp secateurs cut just below a bud at the base. The stem you cut should be about 20cm long. Then remove the leaves and thorns from the bottom half. You can leave a few leaves at the top of the cutting if you wish. Repeat several times so you have a few stems to choose from.
4. Insert each cutting into the trench or pot so that it’s two-thirds buried, making sure the base is securely positioned in the sharp sand or gritty base. Firm the sand or compost around the base. Cuttings should be planted about 15cm apart.
5. Replace the soil in the trench and firm it in. Be careful you don’t damage the cuttings as you do this.
6. Keep the cuttings moist throughout any dry spells, particularly during the summer months. Pot up the rose plants when well rooted. If they’re planted in a trench make sure you don’t damage the root network when you transplant them.
Top tip: Some people swear by this simple trick for starting off rose cuttings. Insert the stem of a rose cutting into a small potato, then push it into the ground. This keeps the cuttings moist as they develop roots and leads to lots of healthy new plants. It sounds simple enough so why not give it a go?
Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines.
Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.
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