Climbing roses work to add visual interest along wall-mounted trellises, arbors and gazebos. The long, trailing canes characteristic of climbing roses are the result of natural mutations in common shrub varieties of rose, so propagating them can be a challenge because they may not grow true to form. Cutting propagation offers the most reliable means of faithfully reproducing climbing roses, but the key to successful propagation lies in identifying the right type of stem to use and the best time of year to take it.
Determine what type of climbing rose you have before taking cuttings. Take cuttings anytime during the growing season from ever-blooming varieties such as "Climbing Cecile Brunner," but wait until the branch has ceased blooming. Take cuttings from seasonally blooming varieties such as "Constance Spry" after the blooms are spent and hips begin to form.
Identify a suitable cutting from a healthy, well-established climbing rose. Locate the most vigorous main cane. Find a 1/4-inch-thick branching cane near the tip of the main cane. Choose one with five leaf stems and a newly spent flower.
Put on leather gloves to protect your hands before working with climbing roses. Grasp the main cane with one hand to steady it. Open the blades of a pair of bypass pruners. Orient the blades so they are positioned around the branching cane and flush against the main cane.
Cut through the base of the branching cane as close to the main cane as possible. Take the cutting so a small portion of the main branch's bark and flesh remain attached to the end like a small tag, or heel. Place the cutting in water.
Prepare the rooting bag. Put 3 cups of potting soil in the bottom of a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Pour 3/4 cups of water over the soil. Mix it with your fingers. Squeeze the soil in your hand to see if it forms a ball, which means it is moist enough. Pat the soil flat along the bottom of the bag until it is 2 inches thick. Poke a 2-inch-deep planting hole.
Snip off the top of the cutting approximately 1/2 inch above the top set of mature leaves. Remove the lower leaf stems. Leave two leaf stems near the top of the cutting.
Dip the end of the cutting in IBA (indole-3-butyric acid) rooting hormone powder with a potency of 0.1-per cent. Coat the bark tag at the base, the entire cut and the bottom 2 inches.
Insert the hormone-coated end of the climbing rose cutting into the preformed planting hole. Press the soil in around the cutting. Make sure the cutting is inserted at a slight angle so the bag can be sealed over it. Mist the inside of the bag with water from a spray bottle.
Seal the bag most of the way but leave approximately 1 inch open to allow for evaporation.
Place the bag near a bright, well-lit window with little or no direct sun exposure. Watch the climbing rose cutting for signs of growth. Rooting may take anywhere from ten days to two months depending on the variety. Open the top of the bag once the roots are clearly visible.
Transplant the climbing rose cutting into a pot once it begins to show signs of foliage growth. Pinch off any flower buds that emerge during the first month to encourage further root growth. Keep the pot in dappled shade for two weeks before acclimating the plant to full sun. Plant the climbing rose in a permanent bed once it is well established and thriving.
- "American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques"; Alan Toogood; 1999
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