Only 1 cutting to root: which method should I use?

jenn(SoCal 9/19)January 24, 2012

I posted before about our old Granada and wanting to replace it, but a few of you suggested I try to root cuttings instead. Well, life happened and I never got around to it. So when we pruned the roses this month we removed the only remaining cane [insert sad face here] and put it in a bucket of water. The cane has 1 stem. So, unless the cane roots in the bucket of water, we have only 1 chance! And I want to be sure this works.

I have access to all the materials and am planning to use the bottom of a milk bottle with the top of a juice bottle and sterile soil or perlite. I would like to use a rooting compound --- but which one would give the best results? I have a bottle of liquid seaweed in the shed. Finally, we have a kitchen garden window that faces south-east and gets some direct and some bright indirect sun. Or, we have a garden full of plants to protect it from full sun.

If you were commissioned to root a single cutting of a beloved rose, what method and materials would you use?

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Jenn, how long is that cane? How many cuttings do you think you can make from it? If there are enough, you might be able to try more than one method. And, have you dumped the plant you dug up already? You might be able to pot it and coax more growth from it for further propagation. Kim

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:29AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Kim: The cane is about 2 feet long and there is only 1 stem, near the top. The cane itself is about 1/2" in diameter.

We still have the plant and did not dig it up. It had just a tall grey gnarly trunk with a couple of canes at the top, so my husband cut it down to the ground to see if we can stimulate any basal growth. He noticed that it is loose and easy to wiggle in the ground, yet it's been there for 40+ years. Could that be a sign of root problems?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Either root problems or the fact the root stock is half (or more) dead, hence no roots on that side to anchor it. If he didn't cut the entire budded part off, it may regenerate some growth. Might you be able to leave that piece in place until new plants are created?

Half an inch sounds as if it's fairly dormant to me, particularly at this time of the year. How many growth buds do those two feet contain? If it's only two or three, your chances of success are reduced, but if there are seven, eight or more, you can probably make three or four cuttings from it. I would expect that to be fairly difficult to propagate due to its being so woody. I've frequently had difficulty in getting really old things lacking vigor to propagate, but once you get one going, you can often propagate more from the juvenile plant much more easily. It's what Clair Martin, former Curator of Roses at The Huntington Library, used to refer to as "reintroducing juvelinity". The first time I experienced it was with a very old plant of the single HT, Isobel. Many cuttings failed until one succeeded and I was able to root cuttings from that young plant one after another. It's as if the capillaries are too thick and restricted to flow sufficient nutrients for the rose to have enough vigor and vitality to callus and root. Once new material is generated, they are open and youthful, permitting all the resources needed to flow up the cane so the new cuttings have the necessary resources required to perform as expected.

See how many buds there are so you can determine how many cuttings you can safely create from it. That should give you direction. Good luck! Kim

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:41AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Kim!

So, you're suggesting I count the growth buds along the thorny cane we removed from the bud union -- correct? I'll go out and check. There is only 1 little stem near the top... that's the one I was planning to root. The cane is green and currently soaking in a tub of water.

Question: Why would a 1/2-inch diameter cane indicate dormancy?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:03PM
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You're welcome! That half inch thick cane is growth from last year (or before), isn't it? It would be considered a "hard wood cutting" and would be fairly dormant. The buds contained are probably fairly flat, indicating they are laying dormant until pruning or other trauma to the cane trigger them to enter active growth. Wood which grows from those buds once stimulated into growth would be soft wood cuttings. The newer growth above, which is what you were considering rooting, is softer, though probably still from last year, so it could be hard wood, too, just not as hard and woody as the half inch one.

You might consider trying the wrapping method on a piece or two of the half inch wood. It's going to be more resistant to callusing than the thinner material on top and should take a significantly longer time to root than the newer material. You can consider scarifying the thicker wood, gently scraping through the bark to expose the brighter green, juicy looking layer just below the bark. It's the cambium layer, the plant's circulatory system and that is what will callus and root. Exposing more of it provides a greater opportunity for callus and roots to form. I would use the liquid rooting hormone to prevent the potential for rot due to the hormone powders absorbing water and remaining too wet. The liquid soaks into the tissues instead of sitting on the surface and has been tremendously more successful for me.

I've already run two batches of cuttings through the wrapping so far since Christmas Eve and have had excellent success in callusing and initial rooting. The ticklish part now is the single digit humidity, winds and high heat we're expecting this week (mid eighties).

I wouldn't make cuttings less than two growth buds in case something happens to them in the process. It's all going to depend upon how many buds you have available. If you were doing it in a more controlled situation, under mist with bottom heat, you might be able to use single bud cuttings, but with wood that thick from a plant that devitalized and without sophisticated methods available, I wouldn't risk it. Kim

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:32PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)


Ah, I see what you mean about the cane being dormant.

Here are some pictures I took this morning. The cane has been in this water for a few weeks and some new buds have emerged since then (I'm not trying to root the cane in the water, just preserve it if possible). It's actually about 16 inches long, and there are a couple of small stems at the top. I counted several buds along the cane... you can see some of them in the second photo. I'm not certain of the exact count because I don't have a trained eye and may think some are buds but are not.

I need to do some studying now so I'll take a closer look at your latest post this afternoon.

Thank you so much. I will be the happiest person on earth if we can get just one piece to root!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Campanula UK Z8

um, well obviously, I am not in Cali but, it looks to me like you could take the small stem (are there 2?) keeping a bit of heel from the main cane and treating it like a semi-ripe cutting. The plastic bottle method works well for me too - sort of like a mini-propagator or a miniature wardian case. I keep the whole thing closed so it acts like a bio-dome, needs no water, just a bit of dappled light. The only thing I fuss over is the cutting medium. Theoretically, it can be completely inert like sand or vermiculite but I confess to being unable to resist adding a little loam - we have a recipe for loamy soil called John Innes - this is not potting compost but a proper loamy soil made from rotting down turf stacks and adding a little base fertiliser - I use the one with the least fertiliser).True, I would be doing this later in the year (although there is still lots of time to do hardwood cuttings in the UK but this might be tricky for you and it is not always that reliable. I think there are some very good sites for taking cuttings but I cannot get the hang of links so someone else will have to chip in. Good Luck. Life wants to live.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:46PM
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OK, the thicker material from the end in the water up to the point where you want to try the bottle methods, I would use newspaper wrapping on. You'll need to carefully remove the leaves complete with the stipules where they've begun growing. You don't want any leaf material as it will begin to deteriorate when wrapped in dark, damp, cool paper. I haven't been cutting off the new growth pushing from the buds, but simply peeling the unfurling leaves from them. I figure they WANT to grow, so check that enthusiasm by removing what's feeding it, permit the rest of the cutting to do as it's supposed to, then allow them to continue developing once there are roots. Keeping the cuttings damp, cool and dark in the paper will help halt further development until they're unwrapped and planted.

You might re cut the bottom end just to begin the capillary action which you'll stop when you remove it from the bucket. Cut the cane into cuttings with two, three or four buds each, depending upon how many there are. It's impossible to see from the photographs, but I presume not all have broken into growth?

Read all the entries on my blog below about wrapping the cuttings. It is ALL spelled out there, including further gleanings and shared results from many who wrote to report their findings. The wraps have worked for me from Christmas Eve and New Year's Day to now, so even with the heat we're having right now, if done properly, something should take (hopefully!) as long as the wood isn't too devitalized. I began exploring this method last May and it worked until the material had become too soft and actively growing. You should be able to get something from what you have right now.

At least, if you try several methods, you'll be diversifying and increasing your chances of success. Hopefully, you'll succeed with multiples of both so your problem will be too many Granada bushes for the garden, but you can always plant multiples close together to create a fuller statement as is suggested with many of the less vigorous English roses.

Take lots of photos and don't become impatient with the methods you try. So many fail because we either disturb them by pulling them up to check for roots or continually unwrap them to see what's happening. Good luck! Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Wrapping Cuttings

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:34PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

campanula: Thank you for the tips!

Kim: Thank you so much! I read the blog and also Paul Borden's and am eager to try this. Paul makes his cuttings 15-20 cm long; that's about 6-8 inches. In my case, since I have only 1 cane, do you recommend trying for length, or for number of buds in each cutting? I'm going to make as many cuttings as possible and include as many buds as possible in each one, so I'm wondering if a much shorter piece of cane would work. I'll also try rooting the stems at the top using the bottle method.

In your October post, you say that the most beneficial temperature range for the wrapped cuttings is between the low 50s to mid to upper 60s. Currently, our daytime temps are in the mid-70s... last week was cooler, and next week -- who knows? There's still plenty of winter left. Sounds like the garage might be a good place for them, away from sunlight and the indoor heater.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:45PM
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I make my cuttings to fit the depth of a 16 oz. foam cup. Once I remove them from the paper, I plant them deep so most of the cutting is buried in the potting soil, leaving only two or three inches poking out of the soil. It keeps them cooler and damper, preventing them from being pushed into growth early. That translates into about 5-6" each, but shorter will work, too.

Anywhere in the sixties should be fine as far as temperatures are concerned. Much colder and they don't callus, but store like produce. Hotter and the chances of them rotting increase greatly. I have an old dresser in the garage. I found sealing the plastic bags and putting them in the drawers kept them cool enough for it all to work just fine.

Paul makes his the length he does because he usually has enough material available and that's what he finds works best for him. He also has greenhouses in which to grow them. That's great, but you don't always have enough to do that, and mine are planted out doors as I don't have a greenhouse. Kim

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 10:29PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Kim. I'll do my best, take pics, and report the results.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 11:28PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Kim: A couple more questions, and apologies if the answers are buried somewhere and I missed them. I am going out today to buy the rooting hormone for all the cuttings, and some growing medium for the smaller stems.

Our temps today will be warm (low 80s) but are expected to cool down to the low 70s on the weekend. (Honestly, I dislike these freak warm temps ... what happened to winter?!?) Nights are cool (mid-40s). Would you suggest I wait until the daytime temps are a bit cooler before I make my burritos? I'm still planning to store them inside the garage somewhere near the north wall.

Also: Our poor Granada is still in the ground after my husband cut off the grey gnarly trunk all the way to the ground. This is an experiment to see if it might produce some new basal canes (other than the single remaining cane, we felt there wasn't much to lose). However, I suspect there are root issues since it wiggles easily in the soil and I think there may not be enough healthy roots to sustain the whole plant even if it produces some breaks. I'm considering digging it up to examine the roots. If there are any healthy-looking roots, would you suggest I break off just that portion and put it in a pot?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Hi Jenn, as I wrote, I've already run two batches of cuttings through the wraps with very good results. It was warm then, too, but not as arid and windy. Who knows what the weather is going to be like in a week or two? They initially didn't expect Sunday night's rain to be as much as it was. I fear the longer you allow that cane to remain in the water with heat and brilliant sun, the more it's going to begin actively growing, making it less and less suitable for the wrapping method. Once it's actively growing, it's more suitable for bottles or under plastic or glass. If you want to try wrapping it, the earlier the better is best. I'm concerned the ones I wanted to wrap but hadn't been able to because they were BLOOMING, might be too far along to succeed with now.

Last year, when I first began exploring this method, it wasn't until May, but we had that long, cool, wet spring, a REAL spring after a fairly realistic winter. We've not really had a winter yet, and may not get one if this keeps going. The longer you wait to wrap them, the lower your chances are going to be for the method. It's pretty much now or never unless you want to try them under bottles, too, which may or may not root. I only suggested the method because it has and is working here where conditions are very similar to yours and due to the probable condition of the material. I hoped it would increase your chances of succeeding.

Concerning the original plant...I presume it was budded? If it was cut off all the way to the ground, was the bud union cut off? If it was budded and the union was cut off, get rid of it and all the roots as possible quickly! What you have left is Dr. Huey, which genuinely fits the description of a 'weed'. Any atoms of root material left in the ground will result in complete regeneration of the entire plant. A 'plant' is described as any atom of root material lost causes the complete collapse and loss of the plant. Bet you didn't know that, huh? LOL! Honestly, though, if it was budded and the bud union is gone, forget trying anything with the remaining stump. It isn't worth it.

If it was own root or the bud union is still there, you can try potting it to see if better soil, better drainage, warmer roots and being able to put it on 'TPN' (total parental nutrition) or 'life support' results in any new growth of Granada. It couldn't hurt! At the worst, you'll lose it. At best, it might give you more potential cuttings to play with.

Two more considerations in case this doesn't work. Vintage still lists Granada as custom root. Theirs is VI, produced from UC Davis treated stock. That will cost you $45, but at least you have an ace in the hole for a potentially cleaner plant. The second possibility is to order cuttings of VI Granada from Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis. They have a minimum order of $25 plus shipping but they also have a very large list of available varieties. I've posted their main link below, but the variety list is at this address.

Even if your Granada doesn't cooperate, you still have these two potential sources, both of possibly cleaner stock. You may want to hedge your bet and put in a back up order for it with one or the other. Also, Vintage has the striped sport of Granada I passed on to them years ago, Granada Sunset. If you like Granada and you like stripes, you'll probably love Granada Sunset. Good luck! Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Foundation Plant Services

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 2:56PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Kim, thanks so much for giving so much of your time and help.

OK, I bought some Dip 'n Grow today and prepared the pieces: I cut the main cane into 3 pieces, making each cut on a slant and just below a bud. As you suggested, I also cut a small piece off the bottom of the cane. I cut an "+" in the bottom of each piece of cane and removed all the thorns (my personal preference). Then, I cut off the two stems at the top. I put all of them in a small cup of diluted liquid seaweed to soak overnight. Tomorrow morning (if this cold I'm getting won't take me down), I'll make the burritos. Let the experiment begin! :-)

I don't know if it was budded or own-root because it was here long before I moved here. We do have the tag but it doesn't give me any clues... only that it was an AARS All-America Rose Selection, and its patent number. Unlike some of our other roses, I don't recall ever seeing a sucker at the base of our Granada.

This photo shows what remains in the ground... I hope it won't make you cry. I poured some remaining diluted liquid seaweed over it today.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:37PM
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You're welcome Jenn, I pray it all helps! Do NOT let your cold get you down. You need to get this done ASAP to improve your chances of success. It sounds as if you're doing it all right, except I would make sure you rinse off that seaweed very well before wrapping the cuttings. I don't know if it will encourage mold in the damp, dark paper. For those you're going to try in the cups, it's probably great, but keeping it wrapped in damp, cool newspaper, I fear it's going to cause them to mold. If you want to water them with the seaweed after they callus and are planted, that should be OK.

If the tag you're talking about is the traditional round tag you usually find on bare roots, it was budded. I can't tell from the photo if half the bud union is still there or not. Leave it alone until you see what it wants to do, or dig and pot it to see if you can encourage it to grow. Good luck! I'm 'rooting' for you! LOL! Kim

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 11:37PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you Kim, LOL!

I'll wash off the seaweed in the morning, thanks for sharing that. Also, I've decided to keep them on the fridge at night, and put them out under the shrubs on the north side of the house in the morning. My husband thinks the garage gets too warm.

I'll scrape off some of that grey bark tomorrow down to the green.

Here's a photo of the cuttings in the cup, with the tag in front of it. It's a miracle it was still hanging on the rose!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 12:28AM
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Yup, that was a budded plant, definitely. Go easy on scraping through the bark so you don't go too far. I've had the best success with what I've wrapped using approximately the 15X concentration, leaving them in to soak for approximately six seconds before placing them in the paper to wrap.

Your garage is heating up higher than just below seventy degrees now? Mine is on the south side of the house, but the roof is styro foam which insulates greatly. It is remaining very cool and even when the door is open and more heat enters, the dresser drawers remain quite cool. I'm concerned putting them in the refrigerator might inhibit callusing. You really do want them to remain in the 60-69 degree range, or that's what's worked very well here. I hope you can work something out. I want this to work for you! Kim

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 2:04AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Hi Kim,

I meant that I'll put them ON the fridge overnight, not IN. :-) But today I'll check the temp in the garage, it may be OK.

WRT the 15X concentration: are you referring to the Dip 'n Grow?

I've already removed the cane pieces from the liquid seaweed and wrapped them in some paper towels to dry out a bit. I'll make the burritos after breakfast.

My husband asked "how are you going to wet and wring out the newspaper? It seems they'd just shred!" We have LOTS of spare newspaper so I'll experiment with that, but it seems that wringing them out would cause them to break apart. I'm considering using a spray bottle instead for better control. Do you have any thoughts on that?

If I had a bunch of extra canes and stems to work with, I'd just jump right in without so many questions. I REALLY want this to work, even knowing I could order those canes or a custom-grown plant. So, again, I truly appreciate all of your help, Kim, and I hope others can learn from this as well.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 11:02AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Kim, I read the Dip 'n Grow instructions and I understand now about the concentration.

I gently scraped off most of the bark, and rinsed any seaweed off the pieces as you suggested. I rolled them up in a paper towel to eliminate extra moisture while I set up the laboratory. :-)

Pictures coming later. Look for them in a separate post titled Granada Rejuvenation Experiment.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Hi Jenn, you're welcome! It really isn't all that difficult to wring out the paper. I like using three full sheets. I unfold them, laying them out flat, then put my hand right in the center, wrapping them around my hand and wrist while dunking them into a bucket of water for a few minutes. I pull them out, gently folding them into a twist and wring them out. There is a little tearing some times, but not terribly. If you're careful, you can wring out most of the water with little tearing because of the thickness of the three sheets. If it's more comfortable for you, fold them the best you can and run an old rolling pin from the kitchen over them until they no longer drip, but are thoroughly wet/damp.

With the wet paper still twisted from wringing them out, grab the "rope" of wet paper in the center then just gently shake it back and forth. It will begin to loosen and fall open. It makes it easier for you to spread them out as a wet, three layer sheet. Process your cuttings and lay them in the center of the sheet with a label. Once you're finished processing all the cuttings, fold over the top and bottom of the sheet, the ends at the top and bottom of the cuttings, then begin rolling them tightly into the "burrito". Make sense?

I've also laid out the three sheets of paper on the deck and thoroughly wet them with the hose, but that uses more water, so I prefer the bucket. My concern is your spray bottle may not sufficiently wet the paper. Dipping or dunking them into a bucket of water does. If the paper tears a bit, don't worry, just spread it out as flat as you can and use it. You'll have several layers of damp paper rolled up encasing the cuttings to provide them sufficient moisture so it isn't a real issue.

If you're doing several batches, just put each burrito into a plastic bag to prevent it from drying and add each one to the bag as you complete it. Once you're finished with them all, gently squeeze out the excess air from the bag and tie it shut. I then put this one upside down into another bag and repeat the process. I've usually used three bags together, each one reversed from the other, to provide as much of a seal against moisture loss as possible, then placed them in the dresser drawer in the garage to keep them cool.

When the weather is conducive for the work room attached to the garage to remain in the sixties degree range, I've also just laid them on a shelf in that room where they've also worked just fine.

I understand what you meant about putting them on the refrigerator now, thank you. As long as the heat from the motor doesn't warm them, and they remain in the approximate temperature range, all should work just fine.

I'm excited to follow your progress! Many years ago, very dear friends retired from this area and moved into the mountains north of Los Angeles. She was sad she had to leave the three bushes of Circus she planted at that house shortly after they bought it in the early sixties. After the move, I knocked on the door and introduced myself to the new owners and requested permission to take cuttings, explaining why I wanted them. They were delighted to share them with me. Both Janne and I were excited when I visited and handed her several own root plants of her beloved Circus, propagated from her old plants. She had some of her old garden, where she'd happily lived for thirty plus years and raised her six children, to grace her "retirement" garden. That connection with your old plant is a happy one. Been there many times and plan on many more! Kim

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 4:53PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thanks Kim! Well, the burrito is already made and resting in the garage. I used 2 sheets since there are only 3 cane pieces, and I felt they were fairly wet from the misting because when I rung them out I could feel squishy water but nothing dripped. If anything, I concerned it was too wet, but I wasn't getting any drips while wringing.

I wrapped it securely starting in one corner. I folded the corner over the cuttings, and wrapped it to the other corner, folding in the side corners burrito-style. I tried not wrapping too tightly so that the pieces wouldn't rub off the little buds that are forming. (If this is not a concern, should I re-wrap it tighter?)

Just now, I wrapped the bag inside two more bags as you describe above, this time taking care to squeeze out more air.

I don't see any condensation inside the bag yet, but there is inside the lid of the container where I planted the stems. Should I see some inside the innermost bag?

Oh I love the story about the Circus rose! What a special gift for your friend, one I'm sure she'll treasure forever.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 5:24PM
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