Yes, you read that right.
In this week’s post I shall try to shed some light on propagating roses using potatoes. I came across potato roses while browsing through the interweb for better ways to propagate my roses. Now I admit, I’m not a pro rose gardener. I’m no pro gardener at all. I identify my roses by their colours – red, yellow, pink and white. (Now for the artist or decorator reading this, pink is pink to me.) So I was happy to experiment with this method and have been surprised by the results.
You come across a great double whammy when growing roses. A rose bush must be trimmed/pruned to improve its health. The dead branches need to be cut out. The stalks that hold dead flowers need to be cut out as well. Why do we prune the stalk that holds a dead flower? To reduce die-back. When the flower dies, a bit of the stalk also dies with it. After losing its green colour, the stalk will turn brown and eventually leaves and flowers will cease to grow on it. So by pruning off dead flowers, dead stems and dead branches, we are actually increasing growth and keeping the rose bush healthy.
Pruning and propagation
Now, imagine you have 4 roses on your plant. A week later all 4 flowers have died. You take your trusty secateurs/pruners/clippers to your plant and prune it. Is there a method to do this or are you going to pull a Kill-Bill on the rose plant?
Here is where it gets interesting – you first cut off the dead flower. Then, cut about 5-6 inches down the stem. Now you are left holding a stem, leaves and thorns attached. I usually keep the top two leaves intact and cut off all the other leaves but others will sometimes remove all leaves. This is up to you as both methods give the same results as far as I have found.
Enter the potato…
Why a potato? Well, it’s a great source of everything a plant needs to grow. Its moist inside. It has plenty of nutrients inside. And, most importantly, those goodies inside are covered by a protective skin on the outside. Isn’t that wonderful! The complete stem growing solution.
Start by making a small cut into the potato and working the rose stem about 2/3 way into the potato. The stem should sit securely inside the potato as in the image at right. And you’re done. Now you just wait until the rose stem takes root, allowing 3 days to a week, in a sunny location. Afterwards, you can bury the potato in the soil leaving the stem out, or do the same in a pot. Watering? Chemical fertilizer?? Pfft..the potato provides all. The stem has direct access to the nutrients and moisture in the potato. And because it’s snug and secure, pests and diseases can’t get to the young roots of the stem.
When new growth emerges, water lightly and apply compost as normal.
Let’s break it down
Things you need for potato roses:
- a potato
- a pruned, cleaned rose stem about 5-6 inches long
- gloves (eeeeeveryyy rooooose has its thorn – read to the tune of Poison)
- an area with indirect sunlight
- wear gloves
- cut out the dead rose
- snip the stem, making sure the stem is 5-6 inches in length
- clean the stem (remove leaves)
- make a small incision in the potato by slicing the skin
- drive the stem in to the rose about 2/3 of the way down in to the potato
- keep the potato rose in indirect sunlight for a few days, run the cutting under the tap or use a watering can to wash the potato and rose cutting once in about 3 days (I harden my cuttings like this for about a week)
- after a hardening period, pot the cuttings or plant them directly in the ground with the potato
- water and mulch
- enjoy your flowers