Rooting Roses in Potatoes: A Complete Guide

Rooting roses in potatoes may sound a strange idea but, if done correctly, it is actually a reliable method of propagation. If you are unaware propagation is a great way of doubling the number of plants you have without spending money.

Propagation usually requires placing a plant cutting in soil or water. However rooting roses in potatoes can be just as effective. It also solves one of the more difficult problems that come with trying to root rose cuttings, keeping the cutting moist for long enough. Rooting roses in potatoes provides not just ample amounts of moisture but also a healthy level of nutrients. This helps to make the propagation process successful.

Roses are a favorite flower for many gardeners. Rooting roses in potatoes in potatoes allows you to reliably propagate the plants. 

Once you understand the process, rooting roses in potatoes is a relatively simple process. It makes the ideal project for both experienced rose lovers and novice gardeners. As your rose cuttings grow into healthy plants they can be planted in your garden, forming an integral part of various planting schemes such as a butterfly garden. You can also use the blooms to make rose water or rose oil. This guide will take you through the process, explaining everything that you need to know.

Legal notice: you can’t propagate roses that are under patent unless you pay the patent holder a royalty fee.

Getting Started

Before we begin rooting roses in potatoes we need to have a few other items to hand. Being prepared will help to speed up the process, meaning that you will be able to quickly transplant the cutting. Swiftly transplanting the rose cutting gives it the best possible chance to establish itself.

If you want to try rooting roses in potatoes you will need fresh rose cuttings. The fresher the cuttings the higher the moisture content. This is vital. Rose cuttings often fail because of a lack of moisture. 

The most obvious requirement is a rose plant or plants. The cuttings should be healthy and fresh. It is often wise to take more than one cutting, even if you only want one new plant. Taking a few cuttings means that even if some of the cuttings fail, you should have one that succeeds. Should more than one cutting succeed you can either discard them or gift them to other plant lovers.

Selecting the Best Potatoes

Also key to rooting roses in potatoes is a potato. For each cutting you will need a potato. The best potatoes to use will be healthy looking and blemish free.


Healthy, blemish free potatoes are the best choice. They should also be high in moisture. 

White or red potatoes have a higher moisture content than other varieties. Successfully rooting roses in potatoes requires the cutting to have a steady supply of moisture. This means that white or red potatoes are a more reliable choice for this process.

Different people enjoy different levels of success with different potatoes. It may be the case that you’ll have to experiment with different potatoes and cuttings until you find a reliably successful combination.

Many gardeners grow their own potatoes. If you do, you will find that using potatoes for propagation is a great way of using up the remnants of a harvest that would otherwise go to waste.

You Will Also Need:

  • Clean, sharp secateurs or scissors
  • A sharp, clean knife
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the thorns on the rose stem
  • A clean screwdriver or drill bit
  • Rooting hormone
  • A cloche. If you don’t have cloches, clean plastic pop bottles with the bottom cut off will fulfill the purpose.

You can place your potato rooted rose cuttings in either a flowerpot or the ground. As rose cuttings are usually taken in the fall gardeners in all but the mildest USDA zones will have more success from placing the cuttings in flowerpots. This will allow you to protect the cuttings by growing them on undercover during the winter. If you are taking your cuttings in the spring, or you are in a warm climate, you will be able to place the potatoes and cuttings straight into the ground.

Rooting roses in potatoes can be done either straight into the soil or into a container. If you decide to plant your cuttings in containers remember that they may require more regular watering.

If you are planting the cuttings in flowerpots you will need a clean container and fresh potting mix or soil. The larger the flowerpot the better, a 5 gallon container is a great size. If you plant on transplanting the cuttings after they have rooted you can use a smaller flowerpot.

If you decide to planting straight into the ground you will need a spade and some sand.

How to Take Rose Cuttings

The first step, once you have everything that you will need, is to take a cutting from your chosen rose. The best time to take rose cuttings is late summer or early fall.

Only ever take rose cuttings from healthy stems. The stems should also be fresh. That means selecting from the current years growth.

Your chosen stem should not only be healthy but also strong and long. Aim for a cutting around 8 inches in length. Mature stems, or ones that have flowered during the summer months, have a better chance of succeeding than immature stems.

With your secateurs make a clean cut in the stem at a roughly 45 degree angle.

Make a cut above the bud at the top so that the shoot tip is removed. If there is more than one flower head on the cutting remove them all above the first healthy set of leaves. You will also need to remove most of the leaves, especially those lower down the stem. If you are familiar with deadheading, you will notice that this is a familiar process.

Remove unnecessary leaves and blooms from your cut stem. This means that the cutting won’t waste precious energy trying to maintain the flower. Instead it will focus its efforts on developing roots.

Next, with your knife, lightly score the lower sides of the cutting around where the roots will emerge. Removing some of the lower outer cane protection will also help the roots to emerge.

Following this place the cutting immediately in a container of fresh water. This helps the cutting to stay moist. A steady supply of moisture is vital if you want rooting roses in potatoes to succeed.

If you are taking cuttings from different plants, label each container. This will help you to avoid getting them accidentally mixed up.

Preparing for Planting

If you are rooting roses in potatoes in flowerpots fill the container with fresh soil or compost. Water the medium so that it is evenly moist.

If you are rooting roses in potatoes straight into the ground you will need to dig a trench. It should be about 6 inches deep and have one clearly vertical side. The best location for the trench is a bright spot with some afternoon shade.

Dig a hole in a quiet area of your garden. This means that the cuttings will be left largely undisturbed as they try to take root. While they should be protected from the intense afternoon sun, don’t choose an overly shady position. The cuttings will appreciate a healthy dose of sunlight. 

Spread a thin layer of sand, no more than 2 inches thick, along the bottom of the trench.

Preparing Your Potato

Peel your chosen potato. Any waste can be added to your compost heap.

Rooting roses in potatoes requires the stem of the cutting to be placed in the potato. The best way to do this without damaging the cutting, is to manually make a hole.

Carefully make a 3 inch hole in the potato with the screwdriver or drill bit. The diameter of the hole should be roughly the same size as the cuttings stem. As you make the hole don’t split the potato. 

Placing the Cutting in the Potato

Remove the cutting from the water.

Brush the bottom of the cutting with some rooting hormone, shaking off any excess.

Firmly push the cutting into the hole in the potato. Don’t push the cutting through the potato.

When the cutting is safely in the potato place it in either the flowerpot or the trench. Cover the potato with soil so that only the cutting is visible. If you are planting into a trench this will require at least 3 inches of soil. The soil should be fresh.

Lightly firm down the soil. Don’t compact it. This will prevent moisture from reaching the cutting.

Cover the cutting with your cloche. Covering the cuttings simulates the effects of a greenhouse. As well as regulating temperature it will also protect the cuttings from the weather and garden pests.  Cloches are also useful if you want to continue growing food during the fall and winter.

A cloche or mini greenhouse will help you to regulate the temperature and amount of moisture that the cuttings receive. It will also protect the cuttings from pests and inclement conditions. 

Cuttings in flowerpots should be placed in a warm, light position. Don’t place rooting roses in potatoes in direct light unless the position has afternoon shade.

Rooting roses in potatoes is a sensitive process. Every day you will need to remove the cloche for around five minutes. Not only does this give the cutting a chance to breathe it also allows you the opportunity to check that it is healthy.

During this period the soil should be kept moist. Harvesting rainwater will allow you to freely water your garden without increasing your water usage. Apart from this daily check you shouldn’t disturb the cutting until you can see new growth emerging.

When Growth Emerges

You’ll know that the rooting roses in potatoes process has been successful when new growth emerges. This should occur within a month.

When the growth is noticeable gently pull the cutting. This isn’t an attempt to remove the cutting. Instead you are feeling for resistance. The cutting should resist being pulled from the soil. If it doesn’t seem to come out freely, this is a good sign. It means that the roots are developing properly.

Remove the cloche. Keep the soil most and allow the cutting to continue growing. If you are growing the cuttings in flowerpots you can now place them in a brighter position.

If your cuttings were taken in the fall, the next spring, as the last local frost date nears begin hardening off the young plants. After a few weeks, when the soil has nicely warmed up, they will be ready for transplanting to their final location.

Sweet smelling and colorful, roses are a firm garden favorite. Rooting roses in potatoes allows you to easily propagate this popular garden plant for little expense.

Once you understand the process, rooting roses in potatoes is an easy and reliable means of propagation. While other methods of propagation can seem overly complicated, rooting roses in potatoes is an accessible method that everyone can enjoy some success with. With a bit of time, and the right care you will be able to use this method to create your own thriving rose garden.