How to Clone Roses

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You can duplicate a favorite rose by cloning it from a cutting.
Image Credit: Maryviolet/iStock/GettyImages

Growing roses (any plants from the genus ​Rosa,​ typically grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9) can offer a beautiful and fragrant addition to your garden. If you want to grow more of these attractive plants, you can propagate your existing bush via cuttings. Knowing how to take cuttings and encourage them to root is basic to an understanding of how to clone roses.

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Taking Rose Cuttings

Selecting the right rose cuttings is key to successfully cloning your rosebush. To give yourself the best chance of success, you want to take your cuttings during the cooler months between November and February. Late fall can be a good option for your first time, as you can better identify any late blooms and therefore choose your ideal cutting.

You should choose cuttings that have bloomed in the previous summer. Use pruning shears to take cuttings of around 6 to 8 inches at a 45-degree angle. Each cutting should have at least four nodes and at least two leaves. Cuttings must be kept moist until they are planted, although it's best to plant your cuttings as soon as possible.

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Rose Cutting Propagation

Before planting your cuttings, it can be useful to wound the base of the cutting and apply a rooting hormone. You can wound the stem by peeling back a small piece around 1/8 inch wide and 1/2 inch long at the base using a hobby knife. You can then slightly moisten the end of your cutting and stir it into the rooting hormone powder. Tap off any excess before planting.

Select a potting mix that's suitable for rose cuttings. A good option is a half-and-half mixture of vermiculite and coarse sand that's been thoroughly watered and allowed to drain. You can group your cuttings at 6- to 8-inch intervals or keep them each in separate pots. Use a pencil to make a hole in your potting mix and then insert your cutting with the base side down. Ensure at least two nodes are underneath the soil but make sure your cutting isn't touching the bottom of the pot.

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Caring for Rose Cuttings

Place your cuttings in an area with bright light but not direct sunlight. You can use a cut-off clear plastic bottle or a clear food storage bag over the tops of your cuttings to increase their temperature and act as a miniature greenhouse. Keep your cuttings watered but ensure the roots have adequate drainage. You can also mist your cuttings to keep them hydrated.

After 10 to 14 days, your cuttings should have started the process of developing roots, but it will take longer for the roots to be properly established. Make sure you're keeping your cuttings well watered during this period. You may also begin to see new growth at the top end of your cuttings. It's generally a good idea to leave your cuttings to grow for a full year before transplanting them, as any stress can damage and can even kill them.

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Transplant your cuttings in late fall or winter and prune off any longer stems to help prevent wind damage. Plant them in areas of bright sunlight. You can apply fertilizer the next spring.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.