If you are like me, you find it very rewarding to propagate your own flowers. Not only do you have the satisfaction of watching your prize grow but you also save yourself a few dollars by turning one stock plant into multiple specimens.
To start with, you will need a good pair of bypass pruning shears. This is important so that you can make precise clean cuts. Next you will need a good quality potting soil. Choose a brand that is light and is not heavy in consistency. A seed starting mix would be an ideal choice. You will also need a rooting hormone such as Rootone or Fast Root. You're almost ready. You will still need some plain one-gallon pots and some wooden skewers that you can use for stakes. You also need a spray bottle and some plastic bags.
Now that you have all your supplies, it's time to have some fun! The first thing you have to do is find the best stems to use for your cutting. Most rose varieties will root well at any age but is best to use firm but young stems. You should use stems where the flower petals have just fallen off or are fading. You always want to be sure to leave at least three to five leaves on the stem you are trying to propagate. The leaves on the stem help to produce root-promoting hormones for better success. Do not let your cuttings wilt before working with them. If they wilt, your chances for success will be dramatically diminished. It is a good idea to keep a spray bottle handy filled with plain water to keep the cuttings moist while you are working with them.
Roses, unlike other plants, are not fussy about where the cut is made on the stem. Roses have the ability to form roots almost anywhere along the stem. I have heard of some people that make small vertical slits at the base of the stem by using a sharp knife. This process can help the rooting process be more successful.
You are now ready to place your stems in their new homes. Before placing your stems in the soil, first moisten the base of the stem and dip it in the rooting hormone. Shake off any excess powder. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or some other suitable object and place your specimen in the hole and secure. Place your plants in a bright location but not in direct sun.
Proper moisture is essential for success in rooting roses. They need a very humid environment for proper development. One way to achieve this is to place a plastic bag over the plant and use the skewers as stakes to keep the bag from touching the plants.
Some rose varieties will produce roots in as little as two weeks while other varieties will take longer. During the winter months, the process can take as long as seven weeks. To tell if a plant is rooted, gently tug on the plant and if it offers resistance, it is most likely rooted. Once your plants are well rooted, move them to a shaded area for several days before putting them into a brighter location. If you move them to direct sun too soon, they may wilt and possibly die.
With some luck and practice, you can become an expert at producing your own roses. The process is both challenging and lots of fun!
Now for this week's garden tip: Want to find out if your citrus fruits have been damaged by cold weather? Place them in a basin of cold water. If the fruit floats, it has been damaged and it is not good for eating. You may, however, use the fruit for juice.
Next week, I will tell you about a plant that loves to be ignored.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.