Growing rose cuttings with potatoes (an experiment)

The other day, I read you can propagate roses by sticking rose cuttings in potatoes, and then sticking them in the ground. I decided to try it out using my rose bush, which is blooming like crazy.

First, I cut a potato in half, and then I drilled a hole in each half using a 5/16″ drill bit (but I don’t think the size matters, as long as your cutting can fit in it).


Then I cut two 8″ stems (at ~45* angles) from my rose bush, and cut the dead rose buds off of them. After I took the cuttings, I stuck them directly in the potato holes.


Last, I buried the potatoes in the ground, and watered generously. We’ll see if it works!


UPDATE 6.23.2013: Sadly, all I got were potatoes with this experiment. :( However, I did have two hard freezes after I attempted to propagate these roses, and I didn’t use any rooting hormone. I’m curious to try it again with rooting hormone and non-freezing weather. I did get potatoes though! :)

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  1. Sandy Cline

     /  May 24, 2013

    When my Mother started roses, she always turned a large jar over them. Protection, and to keep the moisture in, I suppose. I’m going to try the potato method. Good luck with yours!

  2. Julie

     /  May 24, 2013

    I am under the impression that you CAN propagate patented plants for use in your OWN garden ONLY. It is illegal only if you sell them. Is it illegal to SHARE them with FRIENDS also?

  3. I don’t think my roses are going to make it. Inside my house is too dry so I moved them outside and the weather is staying wet and ugly which is weird for this time of year in the Netherlands. The biggest problem I think I had trying this experiment is I didn’t plant the roses until they were already fairly wilted. Since they came in a bridal bouquet they weren’t very long, so by the time I cut away the questionable parts I didn’t have long enough stems. Also I think I should have perhaps put more of the stalk inside the potato. so I had a backup in case the joint in question didnt produce a root. I just went out and pulled one of the stalks out of a potato and the portion inside the potato is still green though the browning part is ever growing. The joint has produced no roots. At this stage if it had enough resources left to start sprouting, even if the sun does start to shine, it would be a miracle. For the record I find it just amazing there is still any green on those stalks at all after 7 weeks. I am confident if I try this again and correct all of my mistakes it will work. Happy growing! ;)
    @ Julie – intellectual copyrights can be very tricky and there are different rules that go for just about every situation. I am not sure why roses don’t fall under the same rules that dog breeders have to follow, but it seems there is a special set of circumstances. By all that I can tell by info I have found on the web, the rules surrounding roses are more like copying movies and songs- you can copy a movie and watch your copy of your movie, you can maybe invite a friend over to watch it with you (but not run a movie theater out of your house), but making your friend a mixed taped of songs you also own is illegal, however the feds probably won’t come knocking. My advice is if you are really worried about it, buy your friend some roses and give him/her instructions on how to grow a rose out of a potato… with a credit to LFBC ofc ;)

  4. Kristen

     /  May 27, 2013

    I believe the patents prevent you from propagating to produce for sale. But doing it for your own home or to give to others is not illegal. Similar to the comment about the use of “movie” above – you are not to make a profit from copying. We had a church children’s minister years ago who would not allow us to copy anything (music or video) because of these laws. We finally proved to her that we had the right to make copies of these that we were using to teach/ spread Vacation Bible School songs/ dance instructions to those who participated.

  5. Cindy

     /  May 27, 2013

    I’ve also read that folks have peeled their potatoes. Do you think that would help? I’m thinking about doing this experiment too. Cindy

    • Donna

       /  June 28, 2013

      I got potatoes. Cutting died. But I didn’t peel. Let me know if that works.

    • lupe

       /  September 3, 2013

      your not suppose to peel then or cut them, just stick them in a med size potato and plant.

  6. Lin

     /  May 28, 2013

    I have had success this year with cuttings taken from a sale bunch of roses from the supermarket after valentines day :-) I cut the flowers off when they were fading, dipped the base of the stem in honey and planted in potting mix. Two of the six have sprouted multiple leaves and are growing. Also had success that way about nine years ago with roses from a gift bunch – got six of the dozen to grow, but thanks to the local possum population only managed to keep one growing – and it is still growing – in a pot.

    • Anna

       /  October 12, 2013

      Hi Lin,

      I am assuming that the honey played a part in them rooting? My mom passed away in March 2013 and I placed a rose in water from her service. All these months later, it is still alive and has small green leaves! I want to root it before it may die and hoping for great success! Thanks for sharing you info

      • Hi there, I’m so sorry about your mom. I hope that you were able to get your rose to root. Although I was unsuccessful with the potato, some of the other readers posted very helpful comments about rooting roses from cuttings. I’m trying one of their suggestions out now.

      • Lin

         /  April 27, 2014

        Hey Anna. Sorry to hear of the way you got the rose you want to grow but hope it is growing for you. Gardens are wonderful places to remember our friends and family with their favorite flowers or by growing something from cuttings from their plants.
        Yes, I believe honey does play a part in the rooting process as honey is a wonderful natural antiseptic and acts like commercial rooting compound but you don’t need the same precautions as with hormone powder when applying it – added bonus :-)
        PS – My two cuttings are still growing

  7. kelley

     /  June 2, 2013

    I tried the potato method today so will let you know how it works. My labs destroy everything so thanks to them I get to try this.

  8. Donna

     /  June 19, 2013

    I tried this and I grew potatoes. Hmmmmmmm….wonder what I did wrong.

  9. Scotty

     /  June 25, 2013

    Just thought I would stick my 2 cents in on this one. I am sure there are not patent police running through every backyard, but here is what it says about patented plants. If a plant is patented, a license is required from the patent holder in order to make cuttings of that plant, even if it is planted in your own back yard. Unlike with a copyright, there is no concept of “fair use rights” for patents in the United States

    If your uncomfortable with propagating a patented plant, just wait 20 yrs for it to expire. I am not sure how they would even determine that you grew this yourself. I have climbing roses that root themselves if they are touching the ground and this is considered patent infringement. I am assuming they will come and arrest the plant that did this… LOL

  10. S. Freeman

     /  June 27, 2013

    I found a great link and it may answer many of the questions posted here:

  11. Amber

     /  July 8, 2013

    I tried this with one of my roses today. I used the potato whole, I did not cut it in half, and I peeled it first. I didn’t use anything to help the roots grow. I just peeled the potato, cut a clipping and stuck it in the hole I made with a screw. Then planted it in just deep enough to cover the potato. I didn’t have any plastic or glass jars to cover it. So I made my greenhouse effect out of bamboo sticks and plastic wrap. I’ll let you know if I get some rosy potatoes lol or if I get lucky and get more roses!!

  12. Plants root better when it is cold. I have propagated two sets of roses, once in the fall and once in the spring. Occasional freezing days are okay. When I planted in the fall, I covered my pot with a clear bag. This helped to keep the moisture in, and still allowed light. Spring is best for propagating anything, roots grow best then. Some plants do not care. I have several plants I merely stuck in good soil with no hormone, just to see if it will grow.

    The stems of the roses MUST be green. I have use both stems with leaves and without, One of which I dipped a 12 inch stem with no leaves in rooting hormone and merely stuck in the ground 4 inches deep. (Surprisingly, this one did best.) Do not allow the soil it is in to dry out too much. Mulch or plastic on the ground around the stem can help. Just make sure the plastic does not blow away. (I found that barbeque skewers are great for using for plant supports and holding things into the ground.)

    The only thing I can say about using potatoes, is that if you do not want potatoes to grow make sure to dig out or cut out all the eyes of the potato. The eyes are where the potato grows from.

    If you get your cuttings and are not using them right away, wrap the cut end with a wet paper towel or cloth, put them in some sort of plastic bag (even just plastic wrap around the paper towel can work), and put them in the fridge.

    Because roses are more of a woody type plant, cutting lines into or small strips off the inch or two of the stem that will be underground can help encourage it to root faster.

    The current root hormone I use is called : Rooting by Green Light. I used to use RooTone or Root Tone (I am not sure the exact name), but I was unable to find find it.

    I am not an expert, but these are things that worked for me. I may have to try the potato thing in the fall. There is a field near me where they tried to remove the biggest rose bush I ever saw, but it is growing back, I thought I had cuttings from it this spring, but the ones I have are a different color.

    I hope this helps! Good Luck.

  13. As a greenhouse owner and a propagator of roses, I don’t think this could work, as potatoes inhibit the natural rooting hormone (auxin) that exists in roses and replaces it with their own ( which grows potatoes. If you want to multiple your roses do so in the spring cut a young green branch on a 45 degree angle. slice 3 slices through the young bark, plant in a mix of loose potting soil in the shade, outside where it will have light but not direct. in 2-5 weeks they should have roots, but it is better not to move them for 8-10 weeks. then, did up a ball of earth around them ( so not to damage their new roots) and plant where they can grow undisturbed until the next spring or move them t their permanent location.

  14. So my understanding is that the potatoes aren’t a magical guarantee in and of themselves. What sticking the cutting into a potato does is prevent the stem cutting from drying out, and enabling it the time to develop roots. Seems to work very well for many rose propagators (as a resident of the Rose City/Portland OR) If you don’t want to grow potatoes as well, don’t use a entire potato, and makes sure what you do use doesn’t have ‘eyes’ on it. The ‘eyes are the only part of a spud that are capable of growing into a potato plant!

  15. VICTOR

     /  March 25, 2014

    The way i do it,in spring i buy rose bouquets for the lowest price at the end on the day,cut them in 10 to 15 cm long and just push them down in the earth,and because the earth is waking up for the spring,all the roses grow roots without any fertilize or jar on top,just push in and wait,let nature take its course.

  1. Growing citrus (and other) cuttings with potatoes (another experiment) | little farm [in the] big city
  2. Growing rose trimmings with potatoes | fungardenz

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