Sharing Roses

It’s easier than you think to root roses. Follow these steps to have more beautiful flowers to enjoy or give away.
William C. Welch

Web-Exclusive: The Rose that Survived Hurrican Katrina

We first shared the story of Peggy Martin rose in our September 2007 issue, and this special selection has now been planted in every Southern state as well as other locations. The plants are receiving rave reviews and beginning to create garden pictures across the South.

The participating mail-order sources report combined sales of more than 10,000 plants as of June 1, 2008. Don and Paula House set out one on a new arbor in their College Station, Texas, garden a year ago and say that the long, thornless canes are beginning to spread on the top of the 8-foot-tall structure and are continuing to bloom. By next spring it should be a stunning sight.

Still Want To Help?

The following mail-order nurseries will continue selling ‘Peggy Martin’ rose and have agreed to donate $1 per plant sold to the Peggy Martin Survivor Rose Fund managed by the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The money raised will help rebuild greenspaces in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.


Sharing Roses

If you love old roses, then take a few moments to root some cuttings for yourself and your family and friends. This is a great way to share a memory and preserve part of Southern gardening heritage.

Aubrey King; his wife, Cheryl; and Aubrey’s mother, Margaret, operate King’s Nursery in Tenaha, Texas, which opened in 1915. The Kings are experts on propagating roses, perennials, trees, and shrubs that thrive in the region. Aubrey offers the following tips for rooting your own roses.

  • You can take cuttings anytime, but fall is best (September till mid-November). Take 6- to 8-inch cuttings from the current season’s growth when the leaves have matured and the stems have just hardened. Place the cuttings in water immediately, and put them in a plastic foam cooler to prevent heat damage or drying out until you can plant them.
  • Cuttings with three leaf sets left at the top are ideal. Make the cut just below a leaf node when possible. To root the cutting, we like a potting mix composed of 50% fine, aged pine bark; 10% sand; and 40% perlite. Be sure to moisten the potting mix well before sticking in the cuttings.
  • We use rooting hormones and prefer powders such as Rootone. Put some of the powder in a shallow container, and dip the cut end of each cutting. Tap it lightly to remove any excess. Use a pencil or stick to make holes in the potting mix. Our favorite pot size is about 2 inches square and about 3 inches deep. Firm the potting mix around each cutting, and water well. You can use larger pots or even place the cuttings in prepared beds located in partial shade outdoors.
  • Keep the humidity high by putting clear or semiclear plastic bags over the pots. Use small stakes to keep plastic from touching the cuttings.
  • Roses generally take 6 to 10 weeks to root. Keep them moist but not soggy, and place them in larger containers or outdoor beds when rooted. One indication of successful rooting is the emergence of new growth on the tips. Rooted cuttings will often bloom the first season and usually become landscape-size specimens in their second or third year.


Rooting Step-by-Step

  1. Take a 6- to 8-inch-long cutting from this season’s growth.
  2. Cut the stem at an angle just below a leaf node.
  3. Remove any lower leaflets so the stem cutting will have clean contact with the potting soil.
  4. Empty a small amount of rooting hormone into a shallow dish. Dip the end of the cutting into the hormone. Tap the stem slightly to remove any excess.
  5. Use a pencil to make a hole in the soil. Place the cutting into the hole, and firm the soil around the stem. Water the cutting well, and keep the soil slightly moist until rooted.