Rose Cuttings Part Two


You haven’t peaked, lifting the plastic covers off the cuttings, but you see fresh green growing beneath the grime of some. Others, you fear are so dark, they haven’t made the ‘cut’ and rooted. It’s time to lift the plastic soda bottle covers when new leaves are visible against the sides of them and see who made it and who didn’t.

First you need to mix up some rose soil for your new plants. Roses love compost made from kitchen scraps, leaves, grass and chipped bark, twigs and branches of woody shrubs and manure. Add some sandy loam soil and they will grow and bloom their heads of for you. If you elect to use pre-packaged potting soil made from peat moss, cut it with at least one third as much perlite and add half as much compost purchased from a garden center. Peat moss has a bad habit of staying much too wet during rainy seasons of the year for rose roots and will rob moisture from roots during the hot and dry seasons.

Have plenty of one or two gallon pots that are either new or washed and scrubbed ready, half filled with the rose soil

Remove the plastic soda covers and set them aside to be washed with soap and scrubbed clean. Air dry them and stack them to be used again the fall.

Gently lay the pots on their sides. Using a narrow, flat blade spatula or paint scraper, slowly working down the inside of the pot, ease the rooted cuttings out trying to disturb the fragile roots as little as possible.

Try to keep as much of the rooting medium around the roots as possible so that they don’t dry out. Working quickly and carefully, plant each rooted cutting in a pot and fill in with enough soil so that the cutting stands straight up. You may have to plant them a little deeper than they were in the rooting pot.

If there are five cuttings in each rooting pot and four have callused over and rooted, but the fifth hasn’t, it might not ever. Count your blessings and go on with the cuttings that have rooted.

Once the rooted cuttings are all potted up, water them well using one teaspoon of Vitamin B1 to one gallon of water. I use Hi-Yield Vitamin B1 with Alpha-Naphthalene Acetic Acid which is a vitamin-hormone formulation designed to stop transplant shock and promote plant growth. It stimulates root development of bedding plants, potted, plants, bare root roses, rooted cuttings, shrubs and trees. Thoroughly saturate the soil around the plants. Re-apply weekly until the plants are well established and then apply on a monthly basis.

Since this is a root stimulator and not a fertilizer, nitrogen must be supplied for plant growth. It is not necessary at this time to worry about blooms, in fact it is better that the small cuttings do not bloom now. An easy way to add a dose of mild nitrogen is with manure tea.

In a five gallon bucket put five handfuls of composted manure, five or six handfuls of alfalfa meal or pellets. (Later, when they have grown to at least double the size of the pot, add cup Epsom salts.) Fill with water and let stand for four or five days. For rooted cuttings attach a siphon line to the hose and water the plants as often as the soil begins to dry out. The siphon line mixes the mild fertilizer mixture with water at a 16 to 1 ratio, making it just right for the new plants. Later, when they become much larger or are planted in the ground, a coffee can could be used as a ‘scoop’ to apply the fertilizer directly to each bush, one scoop to a bush.

The small rooted cuttings are still tender and must be kept in dappled shade until they are at least the size of the pot. Then they can be moved out into the full sun gradually until they have ‘hardened off’. The small plants are not able to fend for themselves with their undeveloped root systems. In order to withstand the extreme heat and cold of the seasons nationwide, the root system and leaf canopy must be developed enough to provide protection against the elements.

Don’t worry if after all the care taken, some plants are lost. This is just another hurdle in cloning roses. First the cuttings have to root and second, the rooted cuttings have to take the transplant shock with an immature root system. Just remember that with everything, but especially horticulture, KISS or keep it simple, simple. Lightly apply fertilizer. Apply water when needed. Let air circulate freely. Slowly move out into the direct sun, especially in the South, Southwest and West. Your success rate will improve tenfold.


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