Wednesday, 10 April 2013

You don't need to be a grafter ...

You really don't need to be a grafter! Honestly!  For years and years I thought you did. I thought that all roses had to be grafted on to a root stock before they could be propagated. Untrue ! Turns out that the graft is for the convenience of the rose grower rather than the rose, and that, in many cases the rose is healthier and more long-lived when grown on its very own roots.

For those who are looking puzzled, grafting is a way of propagating roses in which one plant is fused together with another. One rose is usually selected for its hardy, healthy roots, whilst the other (the 'Scion') is selected for its blooms, fragrance, flower type etc. 

Most roses are grown commercially in this way. The point where the two roses join is called the graft union and it is the knobbly bit at the bottom of the stem. It causes endless debate when it comes to planting - whether it should be planted above or below the soil level (but that is a whole other story).

Last seasons babies

As soon as I realised that I could just take straightforward cuttings I was out with the secateurs pretty damn fast. I love roses, especially the English roses, and although they are worth every penny, they are expensive plants to buy. I took the cuttings with scant regards to the books, starting from June and stopping about October, when the opportunity presented itself, so they included semi-ripe to hardwood cuttings. I have had a really high rate of success, probably about 80%. I took them as you would take most other  cuttings, cutting below a bud and using hormone rooting powder. They survived even when I couldn't resist having a look at them, to check if they had rooted! (Why do I do that ? can't resist).

This is a climber ! White Cloud, New Dawn, Cinderella ? Who knows ?

They stayed outside until it got a bit nippy and then I moved them into the greenhouse, which I don't suppose they needed, but maybe they appreciated. They are now growing away very strongly and I have even planted my first baby outside in the big wide world.

Now, here's the rub ... although I used a permanent marker to write the labels, it didn't live up to its name ! When I checked the labels, most are just a blue blur ! So I have little idea, at this stage, whether they are climbers, English roses or anything else. I suppose time will tell.

I can't wait for them to start blooming, so that I can identify them. The only ones which I can still read are 'Graham Thomas' and 'Cinderella', which are two of my favourites, so at least I know I have rooted those successfully.

I have also invested in a top of the range, truly waterproof pen so that my labels will still be readable after a few months outside !


  1. I am inspired by this and will be out this summer with secateurs.

  2. Hi sarah, thanks for your comments. Do report back and share your successes !

  3. I don't believe it. Glad I found out now. Anne.

  4. Hi Anne, I know ! I thought for years that roses were propagated by grafting... end of ! I found them really easy to take from cuttings as well.

  5. Here is my two-cent tip for labeling my pots. I use pieces of cheap white miniblind slats and a pencil. A paint pen works well, too, but never a marker (like Sharpie). Another trick is to also write the name on the other end of the tag that goes into the ground, so that part isn't subjected to sunlight and weather and it less likely to fade.

    Congrats on your rooted babies!

  6. fantastic ideas - love the double-ended writing on the label, even I can't go wrong with that! It is sooo frustrating to have the label with the writing erased by the weather.

  7. I labelled plants with a sharpie only to have it erased by the weather too. It's such a bummer.

    1. Sooo frustrating when you have actually bothered to write the label in the first place !


All Gardening Sites