Grow your own rose bush from your favorite cutting in this simple and fun activity for the whole family.
The rose is one of the oldest and most loved flowers. Fossilized species of roses have been found dating back to 34-40 million years ago! They have inspired some of our favorite stories, used to send secret messages, adapted into medicinal remedies, and prized in perfumes. Gardeners started cultivating roses in China about 5,000 years ago. Since then, thousands of new varieties have been propagated, designed for their beauty and scent.
How are roses propagated?
There are different methods for propagating roses. Most roses are not grown from seeds but are started with a cutting from another rose bush. A stem from your favorite rose is dipped in rooting hormone and planted in a rich soil to take root. Stems can also be grafted onto the hardy understock of another plant. The understock is chosen for its strong root system. Both processes allow gardeners to grow a rose that is exactly the same as the parent plant. New rose plants from cuttings also grow into mature bushes much quicker than they do from seeds. Today we’ll learn how to grow rose cuttings in potatoes.
How are new roses created?
One of the fun things about roses is the race to create the next, best rose variety for sale at the market. Horticulturists choose roses with certain qualities, such as their brilliant color or a beautiful scent, and then try to create their own unique variety. Once they have selected their two favorite plants, the gardener collects pollen from the first rose. This contains the male genetic material which is like a set of building instructions for how to make a plant. When this pollen is placed on the pistil of our second rose plant, part of the pollen grain travels down the pollen tube to fertilize the rose’s ovule. The ovule has all the female genetic information. Now our rose is pollinated! The bloom is covered with a hood (to make sure no other sneaky pollen can get in) until the rosehip forms with the new variety’s seeds inside.
How to Grow Rose Cuttings in Potatoes
What You Need:
- small, healthy white potato
- clean knife
- clean screw driver or drill bit
- compost rich soil
- bottom portion of a 2L pop bottle
- clear plastic bag or recycled bottle
What We Do:
- Begin by cutting a 12″ section of new growth that has just finished blooming. Use a clean knife and slice at a 45-degree angle. Look for a stem that is as thick as a pencil. Take a section from the outside of the bush instead of the center. Place your cuttings in a cup of water to keep them moist. [Note: some rose varieties have patents. Please do not propagate roses for resale unless you have looked into purchasing the proper licensing.]
- Remove the flowers and leaves from the bottom of your cutting, leaving the top two sets of leaves.
- Use a screw driver or drill bit to carve a hole in your potato slightly smaller than your stem. We want it to fit snuggly. Before planting, recut the end of your stem diagonally at a 45-degree angle.
- Dip the bottom of your stem in honey or rooting hormone. Poke the cut end of your stem into the hole in your potato.
- Clean an empty 2L pop bottle and remove the wrapping. Cut the top off to make a pot. Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill it with potting soil and plant our potato towards the side so that you can observe its development. Cover with a few inches of additional soil.
- Water your new cutting. Cover your bottle loosely with a plastic bag.
- Keep your soil most, but not too wet. Not all rose cuttings take root (so plant a few extras!) When they do, they should start developing in 3-8 weeks. Transplant your cuttings when new leaves start to form.
- Check back weekly to observe the growth of your new rose plant and record your findings in your nature journal.
Rose Looking Glass Nature Study
This is just one of the many activities in our Rose Looking Glass Nature Study! Join us for 22 Charlotte Mason inspired activities including open and go learning guides, vintage anatomy & lifecycle worksheets, artwork study, music study, poetry & copywork, folklore, crafting, a Rose Nature Journal, and more! Check out the listing in our shop to explore.