Can You Propagate Roses from Cuttings?

Want more roses? You can propagate your own from cuttings.

Plants are expensive!

If you go to the nursery or to the garden department of your nearest big box store and buy vegetable transplants, you know what I mean. It's easy to drop $50 or more if this is how you start your garden.

So we've all learned how to start at least some of our vegetable plants from seed right? A packet of seeds is so much less expensive than a tray of transplants. And saving our own seeds costs us nothing at all, and seed-saving gives us exactly the varieties of plants that grows best in our very own garden. Those seeds have adapted perfectly to their environment, which just happens to be our own yard.

The cost multiplies when we buy shrubs or trees. The nursery's cost to grow them to the size we want to buy is proportionately higher too, so that makes sense. These plants are usually a few years old when we purchase them, not just a few weeks like those tomato transplants.

For more gardening and DIY inspiration,
click here to subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter.

But some shrubs are pretty easy to propagate ourselves. The success rate usually isn't 100%, but we can plan for that, attempting to propagate more than just one specimen.

First, you need a plant to propagate new plants from. (My high school English teacher is cringing somewhere at that sentence.) Don't take cuttings from a plant at a nursery or garden center! The folks who raised those plants and shrubs are due their wages, as the Bible says, so please be considerate and ethical.

I've tried propagating a few different types of plants and shrubs, and I'd love to share my success stories as well as my failures. Let's start with roses, and we'll visit a few others in upcoming posts because I got kind of wordy with this one.

How to propagate roses from cuttings.

How to Propagate Roses

Why might you want more roses in a homestead garden? Your reason might be rose hips for tea or medicine, rose petals for lotion or other toiletries, or just for the beauty and fragrance that roses can bring to your home and garden. Don't underestimate the benefit of pretty.

I've grown to love (get it? "grown"?) roses. They aren't nearly as fussy as I was led to believe in the past. So when I pruned one of my pink rosebushes this spring, I thought I'd try rooting a few of the cuttings. I had dozens of stems left after pruning, so why not?

But while I had a nearly-unlimited number of cuttings to use, I was limited in the number of pots I had on hand, a motley collection of terra cotta and plastic in various sizes. Their contents varied from potting soil to compost to just plain old dirt. I hadn't planned ahead of time to do this, so I just used what I had.

I chose ten cuttings that were green and all about the same thickness - not too thick and not too thin, not too young and not woody and old - from the pile on the ground, and gave the rest to the goats. How a goat can eat rose cuttings with all those wicked thorns is beyond me, but they love them. Granted, they only eat the leaves and leave the thorny branches for me to pick up and dispose of after they're finished. I had to pull one branch out of the dog's tail too.

How to grow more roses from cuttings.

Is it possible to propagate roses from cuttings?

Most of the advice I've read said to use a rooting hormone powder when trying to root roses. I read that honey is a good substitute for rooting powder, so I put a little in a dish to use... and after I was finished potting them up, I realized I'd totally forgotten to use the honey. Well, this became an experiment in rooting roses without rooting hormone.

The rose cuttings sat in a bucket of water after I pruned the bushes and while I gathered the pots I'd use. I simply stuck the cuttings in the pots to a depth of about two inches, putting several in the larger pots and one in the smaller pots. Of course, you should dip the stems in the honey or rooting hormone powder before putting them in the soil. I've also read that it helps to "wound" the end of the stem so it will root more easily. Just scrape the stem a little near the end, using a knife or even your fingernail. Then poke a hole in the soil and gently add the stem, pulling the soil close against it. Like I said, I just stuck them in the dirt. Do what I say, not what I did, ok?

How to propagate roses from cuttings.

You can make a little greenhouse over the stems with an upturned jar or even a plastic bag, and keep the soil moist. Your cuttings might drop all their leaves and look dead, but don't give up yet. After a month you can gently tug on the stems; if there's resistance, there are roots! And eventually - hopefully - you'll see new leaves and know you were successful with at least a few of your cuttings.

Me? One of my ten stems rooted and looks great. I didn't even try tugging gently; one day I realized there were leaves on one of the stems. I'm extremely happy that even one rooted, considering how poorly I prepared my cuttings. It's one more rosebush that I didn't have before, and it didn't cost me a penny to try. And now that I know it can be done and have done more research (even though it was after I planted my own cuttings), hopefully I will have a higher success rate next time.


I can't tell you how thrilled I am to know that it's possible to increase my rose garden so easily. I'll be doing this again, and I'll definitely be using that honey next time... and will wound the stems... and use an upside-down jar to simulate a greenhouse... all those things I didn't do this time.

Right about now you might be remembering what I did with those comfrey roots three years ago. The words "do what I say, not what I did" were used there too. Sigh.

How about you? Do you love roses as much as I do? Will you try this?

NOTE: If you are growing patented roses, propagating them is a violation of the patent.

Whether you want more rose hips, petals or the blooms themselves, you can propagate roses from cuttings.

Related posts:
Finally, I'm growing comfrey!
When the Wild Roses Bloom
How to Make Rose Petal Jelly

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams
of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. Join me here:
Facebook | Pinterest | Subscribe via email

Want more roses? Try propagating more from cuttings.