November is a good time to take hardwood cuttings.  The plant is ready to go to sleep for the winter, but is not yet sparko, so still has the juice to put out some roots.

Last year I took hardwood cuttings of my only decent rose, a climber ‘Danse de feu’. It is a reliable repeat flowerer. About half those hardwood cuttings rooted, and the resulting juveniles are all now planted out in my sunny border, busy establishing themselves. I’m doing the same thing again this year with a different rose, one I bought a few months back  – ‘Golden Ladder’, another climber. The method is straightforward compared to the trickier and more incident prone process for softwood cuttings.  It is an easy way to increase stocks of your favourite roses.

First, select a long, straight stem of this years’s growth, about pencil thickness. The new stems that result from a good prune are ideal. If your rose does not have such a stem, then you have to go back a step, prune it hard, let it grow for a year then come back to this post.  See you in winter 2018!

.taking hardwood cuttings of roses.

For those with suitable material now, cut the stem close to the base.  Depending on the length of the stem, it should be possible to get several cuttings from each.  I cut the stem running from the bottom left of the photo towards the top right.  Each cuttings should have at least two, ideally three buds and/or leaf joints.  Cut just below and just above said buds. Make the top cut a sloping cut so that water runs off rather than settling. This also helps to keep track of which end is up.

I trimmed the leaves off and also the thorns as they were large and easily removed, leaving bare stems.

Propagating roses by hardwood cuttings

The length of the cutting will depend on the plant type and how far apart the buds are, but 15-20cm is about typical.  Mine were all around 20cm (8 inches) this time.

Taking hardwood cuttings

There are a number of ways to handle the cuttings. They can be put in into a v-trench outside filled with cuttings compost; they can be bundled up and left in sand for the winter; or they can be set up in pots. The latter seemed like less faff to me, so that’s what I did last year and I see no reason to change.

I’m using a pot with some depth, an old clematis pot I think. I filled the pot using a cuttings compost made of equal parts multi-purpose compost, grit and vermiculite.

I make a deep hole with a bamboo cane, then pop a cutting in each one, several to a pot.  I did not use rooting hormone. I firmed them in gently then watered them in.

Taking hardwood cuttings of roses.

Last year I left half my rose cuttings in a pot in the greenhouse, just on staging, the other pot I left outside down the side of the greenhouse.  Both pots produced 2 well-rooted plants, the outside pots were slower to root than the inside ones.   On balance, if you’ve the space, I’d say go with the greenhouse, but only because I’m impatient. It really doesn’t make any difference.

That’s it. I will leave them alone till April or May by which time any that are going to root should have done so.  I am expecting a 50% failure rate, that’s pretty normal. The cuttings don’t need much in the way of watering until new foliage starts to appear, at which point it’s important they are not allowed to dry out.  This is more of an issue for pots kept in the greenhouse. If you see evidence of roots emerging from the bottom of the pot then a weak liquid feed can be given.

It’s allegedly a mistake to take hardwood cuttings in the dead of winter, the plant is too dormant. If you miss November, it’s better to wait till late February when the plant is getting ready to go again.  This same basic process will work on many deciduous shrubs such as cornus, rubus, weigela, wisteria, physocarpus to name a few.

I’ll be back in the spring with an update on rooting. Hopefully.