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Yes, you can root a rose cutting in a potato… buy why would you want to?

Here’s a tip you see a lot on the Internet: how to root roses in a potato.

It certainly seems simple enough. You just drill a hole in a potato and slip a section of stem from a rose bush into the hole. Now plant the potato in the ground about 4 inches (10 cm) deep. Water well and cover with an inverted bottle to maintain high humidity. After a few weeks, your little rose bush will be well rooted!

The basic concept is that, as the potato rots, it will provide moisture to the cutting… and indeed that’s true. Some sources claim that the rotting potato will also provide the new roots in sugar, which is… impossible. Sorry, but sugar molecules are far too large to be absorbed by roots.

Yes, It Works, But…

The weird thing about this tip is that you would get the same result without even using a potato! That’s because rooting a rose cutting is very simple. Here’s how:20160611A.jpg

  1. Cut a green or semi-woody stem from your favorite rosebush in June or July. It should be about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long.
  2. Remove the lower leaves and any flowers or buds.
  3. Slip the bottom end of the cutting into the ground, directly in the garden, in a partially shaded location. (Alternatively, you could start the cutting in a pot of soil.)
  4. Water well.
  5. Place an inverted wide-neck bottle or the bottom of a soda bottle over the cutting to act as mini greenhouse.
  6. When new leaves appear, remove the bottle: your cutting will be rooted!
  7. Transplant the cutting into a spot suitable for growing roses (full sun, rich soil with good drainage)… and watch your new rosebush grow!

Yep, it’s that simple! Rooting a rose without a potato is faster, requires less effort, and gives results that are just as good. In fact, sometimes even better (sometimes rats or skunks will dig up potato-grown cuttings, attracted by the smell of the rotting tuber.) Plus you will have an extra potato to feed your family.

Why make things complicated when they can be so simple?

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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