Propagating roses by cuttings is easy, and it brings certain side benefits, says Kris
(1) In an out-of-the-way part of the garden, which gets some shade during the hottest part of the day, dig a trench that has one vertical side. It should be around 6in (15cm) deep; place an inch or two of sharp sand in the bottom.
(2) Choose a stem – about the thickness of a pencil – from the rose you wish to propagate. The wood should be straight (no kinks), ripe (tell by being able to break a thorn off cleanly), and young (from this year’s growth).
(3) The cutting should be about 9in (23cm) long. Cut just below a bud at the base. Then remove the leaves and thorns from the bottom half. You can leave a couple of leaf systems at the top of the cutting if you wish, but I’ve removed mine.
(4) Insert each cutting so that it is two-thirds buried, making sure that its base is well into the sharp sand. Firm the sand around the base, to exclude as much air as possible. Cuttings should be set about 6in (15cm) apart.
(5) Replace soil into the trench and firm it in place; don’t damage the cuttings as you do this. Keep the cuttings watered throughout summer. By November they should have rooted well and be ready for transplanting.
Roses in spuds
My allotment neighbour has a row of roses, which he took as cuttings. I asked how he took them. He simply plunges the cuttings into the ground. But his secret of success is the humble potato! Before planting cuttings, he pushes the bottom end into a small potato, which he believes keeps the cuttings moist as they develop roots. It sounds crazy, but his row of allotment roses is proof it works. Try it, and let us know how you get on.