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Taking care of your roses

By P. Allen Smith September 28, 2009

I can’t imagine my garden without roses — their fragrance and beauty are hard to beat. You know, I grow more than 30 different varieties of roses in my garden, and I’m often asked, “How do you take care of them all?”

Well, it’s all in how you choose them. You see some rose varieties are just easier to care for than others.

Many of the roses I grow are old-fashioned shrub roses. You can find these old-fashioned roses from a variety of sources these days but in the past they were actually handed from one gardener to the next from stem cuttings.

The ideal time to make stem cuttings is later in the summer once the flowers have faded and the new growth has matured just a bit. To help you prepare for this technique, let me tell you how the process works.

It all begins with selecting just the right stems, ones that are just under the diameter of a pencil. I make my cuts at an angle just above a leaf node, making sure the cutting is at least 4 to 5 inches long and has a couple sets of leaves. With your cuttings selected, you’ll want to treat them just as you would fresh cut flowers. Get them in water immediately before moving to the next step. Now make sure you moisten the medium your planting in, and I always make my holes first before slipping the cuttings in. To encourage those roots to develop stick the ends of the cuttings into a rooting powder or hormone before putting them into the planting medium.

Set the planted cuttings in a location where they will receive bright, indirect light and keep them consistently moist. Root systems should develop in 3 to 6 weeks. Once they are rooted, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the garden.