- Author: Alison Collin
If you have an older rose that you wish to duplicate it may be possible to start a new plant by taking a cutting. The technique is not difficult, although some types of roses respond better to this method of propagation than others. Miniature roses are usually successful, and are a good place to learn the technique.
Generally speaking most roses that are sold nowadays have been grafted often using a budding technique. This is done because a hardier more disease resistant rootstock can transfer these benefits to the flowering part of the plant which has been chosen for beautiful flowers or outstanding perfume, but which may not be a robust grower on its own roots. It is a reliable way to propagate roses commercially, but cuttings can also be propagated. The most common rootstock in this area is the ubiquitous 'Dr. Huey' rose which certainly gives vigor but also suckers prolifically, and all too often outgrows the chosen rose to dominate with its red flowers!
If planning to try your hand at propagating from cuttings you must make sure that the parent plant that you are planning to use is not covered by a Plant Patent. These patents are awarded to hybridizers and developers of new varieties in order to protect the tremendous investment that they make in time and money as they bring these varieties to market. Plant patents last for 20 years, and it is illegal to asexually propagate a plant during the period that the patent covers. Rose labels and plant catalogs, including those online, almost always indicate if the cultivar is patented, or if a patent is pending. (It will sometimes say "PPAF" to indicate a patent.)
TO GROW A ROSE FROM A CUTTING YOU WILL NEED:
- A well-grown current year's stem that has finished flowering about 8” long for a hybrid tea rose, or 4”-5” for smaller landscape roses. It should be healthy, disease free, green and slightly flexible but not floppy, and should ideally have 4-5 leaf nodes. Place the bottom in water immediately after cutting. Old, woody stems are challenging to root.
- A large, clean pot of moisture retaining compost such as seed starting compost with a good proportion of vermiculite or perlite, or use a loose, commercial soilless potting mix.
- A cover of some sort to keep a humid environment around the cutting (a two liter soda bottle with the bottom cut out and the cap removed is ideal).
- A sharp knife or sharp pruners – sterilized with alcohol.
- Some rooting hormone. (not essential but produces better results)
- A stick or dibber for making planting holes.
- An area of bright light but out of direct sun. I have a north-facing greenhouse window in my kitchen which is ideal.
- A method of watering.
- Labels for each plant.
- Fill pot with soil, and water well so that it is evenly moist (but not wet).
- Make a hole in the soil 3”-4” deep and about the diameter of the stem to be planted.
- Put a little rooting hormone in a shallow container such as a jar lid.
- Prepare cutting material. Cut base of stem straight across just below a node and cut top off at an angle just above the 4th or 5th joint. Remove leaves from the bottom three nodes, but leave some leaves at the top of the stem. If these leaves are large cut them in half to reduce transpiration while the roots are forming.
- Dampen the bottom of the stem in water and dip it into the hormone rooting powder, then carefully place it into the prepared hole burying the bottom two nodes under the soil.
- Firm the soil round the stem.
- Cover with soda bottle without a cap, or place in a plastic bag with the top closed.
- Label with variety if known or description of flower.
- If your soil is well moistened there is no need to water again at this time, so that the rooting hormone does not get washed off.
- From this point on until roots are established it is important to make sure that the cutting does not dry out. I usually water from the bottom, but also keep an eye on the surface moisture.
- Roots may form in about 6 weeks, but more often take about 8 weeks, and once new growth has begun the cover can be removed and care is the same as for any young plant.
In our climate in the Owens Valley I don't plant out the starts until the following spring, but if you have frost protection such as a cold frame and the plants are well grown they may over winter under such cover.
Many years ago an elderly neighbor who had a garden full of roses started them in the fall by digging a trench and putting well-rotted horse manure in the base, then placing a row of cuttings in the trench and back-filling. He had a wonderful success rate but my attempts to emulate this invariably failed. For now I will just stick to the flowerpot method which I know works. Of course there is always the option of sticking the cutting in a potato as touted on the Internet, but I have yet to see any positive results from that method!
- Author: Dustin Blakey
A friend of mine in Arkansas who is knowledgeable about these sorts of things once told me that if he were going to be stranded on a tropical island and could only bring one thing it would be a sweet potato. They are nutritious and easy to grow when it's warm. Myself, I'd rather skip the stranded part and just eat sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are not hard to grow in the garden, but I rarely see them attempted. They're not only nutritious, but their vigorous growth habit works well to smother summer weeds in your garden.
To grow sweet potatoes you plant transplants (called slips) once the soil has warmed and nights are consistently above 50°F. Other than water, they require little care and thrive in poor soil. (Alkaline soil, such as in Chalfant, will need to be amended to lower the pH.) Sweet potatoes' growth rate is based on the heat accumulated in the plant over the season. In our climate, it will take about 100 to 120 days to raise a crop. You will probably be setting slips outside in June and harvesting after the kids have started school again.
Harvest sweet potatoes gently and allow them to cure for about 1 week to improve their storage life and flavor. To cure a sweet potato, ideally it should be stored at 85°F and 85% humidity. (We might have a hard time with the humidity here!) A greenhouse, sunroom or sunny bathroom works well for this, but keep them out of the sun. Once cured, they will store well at 55°F.
The only challenging part of growing sweet potatoes is obtaining slips. There are dozens of mail-order sources for slips; however, almost all source their slips from growers in the Southeast. California doesn't allow importation of sweet potatoes from this region to keep out pests and diseases. This leaves us three options to obtain slips:
- Order from a mail-order nursery that's not shipping from the Southeast. I am aware of only one: Sand Hill Preservation in Iowa.
- Obtain slips inside California. There are some growers around Merced that do this, but we have a hard time getting to Merced from here. Any garden centers you encounter that have slips for sale would be fine, too.
- Grow your own slips.
It is not hard to grow your own slips, but there are as many ways to grow them as there are sweet potato growers. With heat and moisture, sweet potatoes form shoots and grow roots easily.
Some gardeners use moist, heated sand beds. Sweet potatoes are placed in these beds and when the tops emerge, the slips are harvested. This is a good way to grow a lot of slips.
An easy way to just grow a few slips is to suspend a sweet potato above a mason jar partially filled with water using toothpicks just like you would start an avocado from seed. I've also seen people lay sweet potatoes down in a glass baking dish filled with about 1” of water. Either way, keep the bottom ½ wet and warm. Once the sprouts emerge, break them off the sweet potato root, and set them in a clean jar filled with about 1-1/2 inches of water to form roots. This whole process takes about 20-30 days depending on temperature.
In order to ensure this sprouting process works, you should buy Organic sweet potatoes so that they haven't been treated with any type of shoot inhibitor.
It's important to have warm soil to plant sweet potatoes outside. If the soil still needs to warm up but your slips are ready, you can plant them in containers filled with potting mix while you wait.
You shouldn't have too many problems with this plant, but even if you have a few, its rapid growth rate usually makes up for any damage. As an added bonus, they are a fantastic part of a crop rotation in the garden as they are unrelated to most other things we eat, including Irish potatoes.
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