Roses are flowering perennial plants prized for their beautiful flowers, which are made up of delicate and layered petals. One of the best ways to propagate new roses is to take a cutting from an existing plant and grow it into a whole new rose bush. When you grow roses from a cutting, you cut a stem from a healthy plant and root it in a growing medium so it grows into an independent plant of its own. However, you can also propagate roses by dividing an existing plant, but this requires a little more effort than with cuttings. To propagate by division, you have to dig up an entire rose bush, cut the root system in half, and replant the two halves as separate bushes.

Method 1
Method 1 of 3:

Growing Roses from Cuttings

  1. Planting stem cuttings is one of the most popular ways to propagate roses. The best time to take and plant cuttings is when the temperature outside is warm but not too hot. Choose a time when the rose bush is undergoing strong growth. The ideal time of year for this is late spring or early summer.
    • It is possible to grow roses from cuttings when the weather is colder, but the process will take longer and your chances of success will be lower.[1]
    • If you don’t have a rose bush of your own that you can use for a cutting, ask a friend or neighbour if they have a plant you can use.
    • You may also be able to find wild rose bushes that you can propagate.
    • You can also ask a local nursery or garden center if they let people take cuttings from any of their plants.
  2. To propagate roses using this method, you need to select a healthy rose plant and cut off a stem. For this project, you will need some gardening, cutting, and potting tools, including:
    • Clean two-inch (five-cm) pot
    • Potting soil
    • Sharp sterilized cutting tool
    • Rooting hormone
    • Clear plastic bag or mason jar
  3. Fill the small pot with potting soil. For the best results, replace a quarter of the soil with perlite, peat moss, or vermiculite, or a combination thereof. This will increase air flow and draining, giving your cutting a better opportunity to root.[2] If the soil is dry, water it and allow the excess water to drain out, so that the soil is evenly moist.
    • Instead of a pot, you can also use a small mason jar or the bottom half of a large plastic bottle (cut the top off).
  4. Choose a healthy and established plant to take a cutting from. The stem should come from the top and side of the plant, and it should have at least three leaves on it. Ideally, find a stem that has flowered recently. Look for a stem that’s young but established and hardy, and that’s about six inches (15 cm) long.
    • It’s better to take cuttings from the top and side of the plant because they seem to root better than cuttings from the middle or bottom.[3]
    • It’s ok if the stem you select has buds and flowers currently on it, but look for a stem with flowers that are starting to wither. This indicates the stem recently bloomed.
  5. The best tool for taking the cutting is a pair of sharp pruning shears or a razor blade. Cut the stem from the plant at a 45-degree angle, just below one of the lower leaf nodes (where the leaf attaches to the stem).[4]
    • Make sure the cutting tool has been sterilized to prevent the spread of disease.
    • To sterilize your cutting tool, you can heat it with fire until it’s red hot, or boil it in water for 30 minutes.
  6. With the same cutting tool, cut off any withered flowers and new buds where they attach to the stem. If any hips (fruit) have started to form, cut these off as well.[5]
    • Cut off any leaves on the lower half of the stem.
    • Leave two to three higher leaves to help with photosynthesis. Cut these leaves in half to reduce the loss of moisture.
  7. Wounding is the process of making slits in the bottom of the stem, and this will encourage rooting. With the same cutting tool, cut one-inch (2.5-cm) slits in the bark at the bottom of the stem.
    • Make three or four slits in the bark to give the roots more places to grow out from.[6]
  8. [7] Insert the bottom two inches (five cm) of the cutting so that the cutting, wounds, and bottom of the stem are covered in the hormone. Shake it gently to remove excess hormone.[8]
    • Rooting hormone is not a necessary step in the cutting and propagating process, but it will increase the chances that your cutting will grow successfully.
  9. With the tip of your finger or a pencil, make a two-inch (five-cm) hole in the potting soil at the center of the pot. Place the cut end of the stem in the hole. Pack the soil around the stem and use your hands to firm the soil in place.
    • Water the soil so that it’s thoroughly moist.[9]
  10. To cover the stem with plastic, insert two eight-inch (20-cm) sticks or wires into the soil on either side of the stem to prop up the plastic. Cover the pot and stem with a clear plastic bag, and affix the bag to the pot with an elastic or twine. With a mason jar, simply place a large mason jar over the stem.
    • Covering the stem with glass or plastic will create a miniature greenhouse, and the cover will help keep in the heat, moisture, and ultraviolet rays the stem needs to root and grow.[10]
  11. Throughout each day, the plant will need plenty of bright sunlight. But to avoid overheating, place the plant in a bright location that receives lots of indirect sunlight, especially around midday.[11]
    • The mason jar or plastic will help to keep the soil and cutting moist, but add more water any time the cutting or soil starts to dry out.
    • Placing a heating mat under the plant can help encourage the roots to grow.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 3:

Dividing Rose Plants

  1. The ideal time to divide perennial plants is in early spring or late fall. These are times when the plants are in dormant stages, and this will minimize shock to the plant and improve root growth.[12]
    • It’s also important to divide perennials during periods of dormancy because this will ensure they're not blooming. Avoid dividing rose bushes when they're in bloom.
    • Dividing roses is less popular than propagating by cuttings because it’s more difficult and time consuming. Dividing requires you to uproot an established plant, cut it in half, and replant the two halves.
  2. To propagate roses by division, you'll need a healthy and established rose plant, as well as some garden tools and equipment, such as:
    • Sharp and sterilized knife or razor
    • Shovel or spade
    • Gardening gloves
    • Two large buckets
    • Damp newspaper
    • A prepared garden plot
    • Fertile soil
  3. To make sure that your divided rose bushes will thrive and produce healthy flowers, choose a healthy and established plant to divide. A healthy plant will:[13]
    • Have plenty of leaves
    • Have leaves that are distributed evenly around the plant
    • Produce lots of flowers
  4. To minimize shock to the plant before you uproot and divide it, water the bush thoroughly. This will also help to loosen the soil around the roots, making it easier to remove the plant from the ground without damaging the roots.
  5. With the shovel, start digging into the ground a few feet away from the bush's stem. You need to dig up the plant, but must avoid digging into and damaging the roots. Once you’ve cleared the area around the plant, use your hands to brush away soil and expose the roots.
    • When the roots are exposed and the area around the plant has been dug up, carefully pull the plant up from the ground.
  6. Lay the rose bush on the ground or place it into a wheelbarrow. With a sterilized pruning saw or knife, divide the plant into two equal halves by cutting the roots down the middle of the plant.
    • To sterilize your cutting tool, heat the metal with fire until it’s red hot, or boil it for 30 minutes in water.
  7. Once the plant has been divided, place each half into a bucket and transfer the buckets to a shady place to protect them while you prepare the garden plot. To keep the plants moist, cover them with damp newspaper.
    • Ideally, you want to keep the humidity around 50 percent to keep the plants moist without soaking them too much.[14]
  8. In the area where you removed the original rose bush, replace the soil you dug up with fertile soil or organic matter to make sure there are plenty of nutrients in the garden bed for the new plants. Use your hands or a spade to mix in the new soil and spread it around the garden bed.
    • Good organic matter to add to the soil include aged compost or manure.
  9. Dig two holes in the garden bed you’ve prepared to the same depth as the original plant. Make the holes about 24 inches (60 cm) apart. Plant the individual rose bushes in the holes and cover the roots with soil. Pack the soil around the roots with your hands.
    • Water the plants thoroughly.
    • Keep the rose bushes moist during the first year that they're establishing themselves.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 3:

Keeping Your Roses Healthy

  1. Roses need between six and eight hours of sunlight each day. When choosing a location for your roses, pick somewhere that receives lots of direct sunlight.
    • In very warm climates, pick a location that gets indirect sunlight when the sun is at its hottest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This could include near a tree that provides some shade during the hottest time of day.
    • In cooler climates, plant the roses in front of a south-facing or west-facing wall or fence to give the roses some extra protection and reflected heat.[15]
  2. Roses need to be watered deeply, especially during their first year and during the warmer summer months. Provide deep soakings twice a week in summer to keep the soil consistently moist.
    • The best way to water roses is with a drip irrigation system or soaker hose that concentrates water at the base and roots of the plant. If the flowers or foliage get wet, it could cause disease, fungus, and rot problems.[16]
  3. Along with plenty of water and sunlight, roses also require regular feeding, especially before and during blooming periods. In the spring and summer, between the months of April and July, provide the roses with a monthly application of nutrients, such as:
    • Granular 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 fertilizer[17]
    • Fish emulsions
    • Seaweed extract
    • Aged manure or compost
    • Alfalfa meal
  4. Roses will thrive when they are pruned regularly, as pruning removes diseased stems, flowers, and leaves, and increases circulation throughout the plant. In the spring, use shears or loppers to remove dead flowers, diseased stems, and old leaves.[18]
    • Throughout the spring and summer, continue removing dead flowers and leaves as necessary.
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What do I do with a rose cutting?
    Monique Capanelli
    Monique Capanelli
    Plant Specialist
    Monique Capanelli is a Plant Specialist and the Owner and Designer for Articulture Designs, an innovative design firm and boutique in Austin, Texas. With over 15 years of experience, Monique specializes in interior botanical design, living walls, event decor, and sustainable landscape design. She attended the University of Texas at Austin. Monique is a Certified Permaculture Designer. She provides plant and botanical design experiences, from small gifts to entire transformations, to shoppers as well as commercial clients including Whole Foods Market and The Four Seasons.
    Monique Capanelli
    Plant Specialist
    Expert Answer
    Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone to help encourage root growth, then plant it in a pot with some good soil.
  • Question
    How do you grow roses from seed?
    Katie Gohmann
    Katie Gohmann
    Professional Gardener
    Katherine Gohmann is a Professional Gardener in Texas. She has been a home gardener and professional gardener since 2008.
    Katie Gohmann
    Professional Gardener
    Expert Answer
    Rose seeds need to go through stratification (an artificial cold spell) for 10 to 12 weeks before they will sprout. This, combined with a germination success rate of 20-30% makes propagation by seed an unattractive prospect. on by seed an unattractive prospect. If you still want to try it, find a good source of information that will guide you through the process.
  • Question
    How can I keep miniature roses alive?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    I planted mine in to the ground just like a normal rose bush, amending the soil with rose fertilizer and alfalfa meal. It is gorgeous, but because it's low to the ground, you should make sure to use drip irrigation or a soaker hose to water it so it doesn’t get black spots from the water splashing on the leaves. If yours is in a pot, let it go dormant in the garage or close to your home to keep the pot from freezing. Keep it watered and in the spring it should come back with more fertilizer to keep it happy.

About This Article

Monique Capanelli
Co-authored by:
Plant Specialist
This article was co-authored by Monique Capanelli. Monique Capanelli is a Plant Specialist and the Owner and Designer for Articulture Designs, an innovative design firm and boutique in Austin, Texas. With over 15 years of experience, Monique specializes in interior botanical design, living walls, event decor, and sustainable landscape design. She attended the University of Texas at Austin. Monique is a Certified Permaculture Designer. She provides plant and botanical design experiences, from small gifts to entire transformations, to shoppers as well as commercial clients including Whole Foods Market and The Four Seasons. This article has been viewed 349,606 times.
120 votes - 89%
Co-authors: 12
Updated: July 30, 2023
Views: 349,606
Categories: Roses
Article SummaryX

If you want to propagate roses, start by locating a stem on your rose bush with at least three leaves on it, then cut it off. Make a number of small cuts on the bottom part of the stem to encourage root growth and remove any flowers or withering leaves from the stem. To plant the cutting, fill a pot with soil, dip the cutting in rooting hormone, plant it in the soil, and water it. Finish by covering the stem with a glass jar, which creates a mini greenhouse and helps the plant grow. To learn how to divide rose plants and how to keep your roses healthy, read on!

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