Roses are some of the most amazing plants out there, they grow with thorns and their flowers have become some of the most loved flowers in the world. Many avid flower lovers will try to grow this plant in their garden or their greenhouse. Some first-time growers may be shocked to hear about using potatoes to help propagate the roses even further.
To grow a rose in a potato you will need at least 200mm of a stem, with the flower and leaves trimmed off, the stem is then stuck into half of the potato and planted in the ground. This gives a boost for the roots of the stem to start growing and prevents it from going dry, which helps new leaves and roots to grow.
This is not a unique way of propagating plants, with many other plants working as a quick and easy way to promote growth in stems. Having a good base that naturally provides all the nutrients and moisture needed for the new plant to grow means you won’t have to work as hard to ensure the rose will grow. Many times, this is the only way to grow a new rose as the environment might be too tough for new stems to grow naturally.
Here’s everything you need to know about growing roses using one half of a potato.
How long does it take to root?
The process of rooting properly through a potato can take anything from five to six weeks if the soil is right. The stem needs to grow new roots from scratch and will need to be given the chance to fully grow before you give up on the new rose bush that would be growing.
Most people will report that smaller leaves have started to form once the roots are growing effectively. The nutrients provided by the potato, along with its moisture will mean that the plant won’t go hungry or thirsty, further, it is easier for roots to grow through the potato in the early stages.
Roses are not the only plants that benefit from the use of potatoes when you plant their stems, many other larger flowering plants will grow much faster and easier if you provide a good place for their roots to grow. This means that many growers have a steady supply of potatoes at the ready for when they need to grow more of a specific plant.
What are the steps you need to take?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is as simple as taking a stem and pushing it into a potato then leaving it to grow over time. Several steps have to be completed before the rose stem will grow properly through the propagation technique, even with a potato for extra nutrients. Following these basic steps will mean the difference between having a dried-out twig in a few weeks and having a plant that is growing properly.
Even when removed from the plant, the flower will be sucking up as many nutrients from the stem as possible. This is why it is possible to give a boost of color to roses by placing them in the right water mixture. Which is an amazing thing to do if you have a whole bushel of roses that are decorating your house.
However, if you are propagating a rose from just a stem you do not want the flower to still be attached. The first thing that has to be removed when preparing your stem to be planted, in a potato or just the water, is to remove the flower. This prevents any excess moisture and energy from being sucked up and being used for anything other than a root system.
The next thing to go is the leaves that are still on the stem, these are removed for the same reason the flower is being removed. But also, because these are too big to do what they need to do, the photosynthesis provided by large leaves are not enough to counter the amount of energy needed to keep them healthy.
Your stem is still busy growing its roots and other leaves, which means that it cannot support the larger leaves that the mother plant had. If you want your rose to grow properly it needs to have leaves that are the right scale to the root system it has, which when planted will be none.
Now that you have the flower and leaves prepared there is just one more thing you need to do to the stem before planting it into the potato, which is cutting it into the right shape. Many people will assume that you simply cut the stem at an angle, but this will inhibit the roots from forming.
Before you push the rose into the potato you want to cut the stem into quarters, not too deep, just about one-quarter of an inch right at a stem node. This will divide the stem into four equal parts which will make it much easier for the stem to start forming its roots in the potato.
Plant in Potato
The second to last step is to plant the stem in the potato, however, the potato needs to be prepared as well. You will have to drill a hole slightly smaller than the stem through the potato, as well making sure the stem is inserted with the skin side of the potato pointing upwards. This will hold the stem properly and allow you to have a rose bush that grows straight up, depending on the king of the rose plant your propagating.
Plant in ground
The last thing to do before everyday maintenance will be to plant the potato and stem into the ground, this can be tricky. Sometimes you can simply plant the potato and stem in the backyard garden, however, this does diminish the chances that the stem will start to grow properly.
It is much safer to plant it in a pot first, keeping it somewhere you can easily monitor the stem as it starts to grow. Moving it to larger pots as the roots system continues to grow, eventually planting it into the ground where you want your rose bush to grow.
Why do roses grow this way?
As beautiful as roses are, and how common they have become in some parts of the world, they are still some of the most difficult plants to grow. There are various reasons for this and listing them all would make up an entirely new article, the most important part to know is that they very rarely have seeds.
This means that most rose trees or bushes are clones of the original where they come from, with growers using stems to grow more as they go along. Which has caused many of the natural ways for rose bushes to become muddled and lost through the ages. Roses grow this way because they need an initial boost in their growth, allowing the stem to easily suck up everything it needs to grow.
Some growers may use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes but the most accepted version that seems to work most of the time has been potatoes.
Whether you are growing a stem from a bushel of gifted roses or you want your rose bush to continue growing throughout your garden, using potato is a sure-fire way of increasing your chances. After all, in normal propagating estimates, there is only a 10% chance that the stem will start growing.
Just be sure the potatoes you are using wasn’t meant for tonight’s dinner!