Despite their reputation for being finicky, most roses are simple to grow and easy to propagate at home. “Propagate" simply means to reproduce a plant easily from a simple cutting. Unlike seeds, which produce very different plants, rooted cuttings produce replicas of their parent. You don't have to be a trained rosarian to reproduce treasured family heirlooms or favorite garden roses.
The Misting Method: As you get more sophisticated in your rose propagating methods you may eventually want to set up a misting bench. It can be an open-air bench or one enclosed in a greenhouse, or even a small misting box, similar to the one my husband Bob built for me. (Refer to "How We Made Our Misting Box," from Rose Ecstasy. You could choose to rig it up with a manual or an automatically-timed mister, whatever your time, money, or expertise will allow. I am fortunate to have a very handy guy for a husband, who is a good sport whenever I come up with these crazy project ideas.
Next fill your trays or pots with the potting soil. You can opt to use 50% sterile potting soil and 50% vermiculite, or half peat and half perlite. When the potting mix is ready in the trays or pots, this is the time to take off your seeds from the towel. Remember the seeds must not be removed from the plastic bag until they are ready to be planted. You lightly dust them before planting.
Protect the roses over the winter. Roses that are left tall may be damaged by heavy winds and frosts during the winter. Trim the canes down to 2 feet (0.6 m). Tie them together with twine, to help protect them from inclement weather. Heap a mound of compost around the base of the bush, then top it with a layer of straw. When the weather warms to above 51 degrees, remove the compost mound.
This is a fungus called black spot. Left untreated, it can cause all the leaves on your roses to turn yellow and fall off. It will also affect nearby plants, as it spreads by spores. Remove ALL INFECTED material and throw it away or burn it. Do NOT leave it on the ground as this fungus is very hardy. It can survive winter and travels very easily, even after being removed from the affected plant. Spray your plants regularly (bi-weekly) in the growing season with a good fungicide (I like the Bayer products). You can also add a little bit of dish soap and baking soda to a spray bottle with water and spray the entire plant.
While your cuttings take root, keep them covered and moist. In a garden bed, a simple DIY mini greenhouse does the trick. Just place a bell jar, a garden cloche or an overturned mason jar over the cutting. A clear plastic bottle with the bottom cut out and the cap removed works, too. Water the soil regularly to keep it moist, but not soggy. Your mini hothouse will keep the humidity high inside.
It is generally agreed that "old roses" include species or wild roses; albas; Bourbons; moss roses; China roses; Noisettes; Portland roses; rugosa roses; Scotch roses; centifolias; hybrid pimpinellifolias; damasks; gallicas; hybrid perpetuals; tea roses; and musk roses. Those classified as modern rose varieties are hybrid teas; floribundas; polyanthas; grandifloras; miniatures and dwarfs; modern shrub and landscape roses; climbers and ramblers; and rugosa hybrids.
The next step when you grow roses from cuttings is to use a pencil or metal probe push down into the planting site soil to make a hole that is deep enough to plant the cutting up to about 50 percent of its overall length. Place the cutting that has been dipped into the rooting hormone into this hole. Lightly push the soil in around the cutting to finish the planting. Do the same thing for each cutting keeping them at least eight inches apart. Label each row of rose cuttings with the name of the mother rose bush it was taken from.
Grandma's Mason Jar: For the beginner this is probably the easiest way to take rose cuttings. Not much equipment is needed, just a clear quart-size glass jar and some cuttings from your favorite rose. For you modern sodapop lovers, a 2-liter plastic bottle with the bottom cut off will work just as well. Cut a piece of rose stem about 6 inches long, remove the bottom set of leaves, and just stick the stem into the ground (or into a pot) a couple inches deep, and cover with a jar or bottle. You will need to periodically water the soil around the jar, otherwise the rose stem will dry out. It will take a couple of months for the rose stem to take root and begin leafing out with its new growth. The best time of year is spring or early fall. If you live in a mild climate, then winter and summer can also be successful for rooting roses. Intense summer heat of 100 degrees is not conducive for taking rose cuttings, nor are 32 degree or below winters.
Label the canisters with the name of the pollen parent. Do not put a lid on the canister so they will dry out and not get moldy. After a few hours (on some rose varieties), or the next day (on other varieties), the pollen sacs will burst open, thereby releasing the pollen. Sometimes you will need to shake the canister so that the rose pollen will release from the pollen sacs. The black film canisters make it easy for you to see the pollen, which looks like a fine yellow powder. The pollen will stay fresh for about two weeks.
Ever wonder if you could root and grow roses from a branch of your favorite rose bush? Roses actually root rather easily. However most roses are grafted onto the rootstock of a different type of rose than the top, flowering portion, so the rose you root and grow may look nothing like the rose you started with. Grafting is done to improve strength, disease resistance, or hardiness, and even if you do get something resembling the parent rose you took your cutting from, it might not have that rose's hardiness. Rooting a rose cutting may not be hard to do, but it is something of a gamble.
You must monitor the seedlings as they grow in their new pots for colour, form, bush size, branching, and disease resistance. Roses with weak, unhealthy or unattractive flowers can be discarded. It will take your new seedlings at least three years before they reach maturity and develop into a big bush. However, the first flower can be seen after one or two years.
After the rose seeds have soaked overnight, rinse them in a strainer and place them into the blender with at least a cup of plain purified water (making sure all seeds are covered), and turn it on for a few minutes. It usually doesn't chop up the seeds, but rather, it will clean off the pulp remaining from the rose hip, which would otherwise mold if left on the rose seed. You may see a few seeds chopped up, but those usually aren't viable anyway. Flush the rose seeds again through a strainer using fresh purified water.
Cover the cutting loosely, pot and all, with a plastic bag or plastic wrap and keep the soil moist. Putting a tall stake into the pot will hold the plastic away from the leaves. If the plastic touches the leaves, they remain wet and can succumb to a fungus disease. Along the same lines, make sure the condensation can escape from the plastic or the stem will rot.