Let me start by stating that I am not touting that what I do is the
one and only way to propagate roses. I am simply sharing with you what
I do and that I am happy with the results. I would also like to state that
I have been involved with roses for many years and I have never heard of
anyone being hassled in any way for propagating rose for their own use.
If you were to start selling certain varieties is when you would get into
When someone tells me that they do certain things I always want to
know why. I expect you may be the same way. Therefore, I will try to explain.
Why do I propagate roses instead of buying them at a nursery?
You can tailor make a plant just the way you want it as far as
the type of rootstock, height of the graft etc. and, by taking your
time, you can produce a superior graft.
By exchanging bud wood with like-minded people around the country you
can be growing new varieties before most nurseries have then available.
You will find that about 14 of 15 new varieties will be inferior to
the roses that you already have.
You can try them out, keep the winners
and discard the losers without losing a lot of money.
If you search out superior specimens and use the best bud eyes from
these specimens you can produce a superior bush for yourself.It’s lots of fun to wait, with great expectation, to see what the new
blooms will look like.
Why do I use Fortuniana Rootstock?
The sandy soils of
Florida are teeming with Nematodes. These invade the roots of most rose rootstocks and led to the decline of the bush. Fortuniana rootstock has
superior resistance to this pest. In addition, tests have shown that roses
on Fortuniana Rootstock produce more blooms and larger blooms than the
same variety grown on other rootstocks.
Why do I graft instead of bud onto Fortuniana?
Because I can
produce the bush much faster if I graft where I have the rose foliage producing energy and I can start with bud eyes that have already begun to break.
Why do I make a V notch in the top of the rootstock instead of simply
cutting a slit like most nurseries do?
Because this enables me to make
a superior graft. Time is money in a nursery so many of them simply slit
the top of the Fortuniana because it is faster. But this causes problems.
The only way the point of the V cut on the stem of the scion (desirable
variety) can go all the way to the bottom of the slit is if the portion
of the cane on each side of the slit is broken over, crimping the cambium
layer and xylem tubes. This is a problem. If the point of the V is not
driven all the way to the bottom of the slit this leaves a hole. This too
is a problem. Cutting the V notch in the Fortuniana to match the V point
on the scion takes a little longer but it has neither problem and produces
a superior graft.
Why do I make my grafts about 8 inches above the bed when many nurseries
place their grafts about 3 inches above the bed?
Part of most nursery’s
sales are to people in areas that have to be concerned with freezes. Therefore,
they want to be able to protect the bud union. That is not a concern in
my Central Florida location. Having the graft high makes everything easier. The
high graft allows my Dramn system to water and liquid feed the entire
surface of my rose bed without being blocked by low canes. Weeding,
water wanding, spraying, feeding, mulching, and pruning are all easier.
Why do I use "Dip-n-Grow", a liquid rooting compound instead of a
Rooting powders lose potency with time. Since I do a limited
amount of grafting, I fear that I would have to throw away much of the
powder that I would buy. It is my understanding that Dip-n-Grow does not
have this shelf life problem. Just to be safe I store it in my refrigerator.
I am not aware of any loss of potency but, should this occur, it would
be simple to change the Dip-n-Grow dilution ratio from 5 to1 to a 3 or
4 to1 ratio to compensate for this.
Why do I root the Fortuniana in the small tray compartments instead
of larger cups or pots?
The small root ball on the Fortuniana allows
me to use one hand to hold the Fortuniana/scion in the air and rotate it
to wind the grafting tape onto the joint. If the Fortuniana is rooted in
a cup or pot the weight of the cup or pot makes it necessary that I sit
it on the table. Then I must try to wind the grafting tape around a vertical,
stationary joint. This requires more dexterity and patience than I possess.
Why do I pre root the Fortuniana instead of rooting and grafting
at the same time?
It is my experience that I get essentially 100% success
with my grafts. While my success rate with rooting the Fortuniana is good,
it certainly is not perfect. In the wintertime I would even rate it as
poor. If I graft onto unrooted Fortuniana, and the rooting does not take
place, I lose the specimen even though the graft heals satisfactorily.
I previously rooted and grafted at the same time to avoid having to wind
the grafting tape around a stationary pre rooted start in the cups. After
Ken Muncy showed me the small compartment rooting trays I adopted my present
method which I will describe. I find it to be a better way.
Now that I have given you all this background on why I do things the
way I do, let me give you a step by step procedure on how I do it.
EQUIPMENT USED FOR THE GRAFT
1"x2" board about 2 l/2" long
Small plastic scraper holding a replaceable single edge razor blade
Parafilm "M" Laboratory film
Small test tube 5/8" in diameter by 3 ½" long that holds 15
times the volume of the eye dropper
Vase to hold the test tube upright
"Dip-n-Grow" rooting compound
16 oz. Styrofoam cups
Fafard #2 Soilless Mix
Labels & permanent marking pen
EQUIPMENT USED FOR THE MIST HOUSE
10 minute timer with pins set to mist for 6 to 12 seconds 3 times
during the 10 minute interval
A photocell or a cheap "security" timer to turn the 10 minute timer
off at night
WHAT I DO
I previously grafted and rooted the Fortuniana at the same time. Now
I try to root the Fortuniana ahead of time. I have plastic rooting trays
that have compartments that are about 1 ½" square by 2 inches deep.
I make a mixture of 2/3 Fafard #2 and 1/3 Perlite and thoroughly soak this
mixture with water before filling the compartments.
Cut long canes of Fortuniana that are then recut into approximately
11-inch lengths. Make sure which is the bottom end. Remember the bud eye
is always above the leaf. Use a razor blade to make a square cut on the
bottom of the Fortuniana stick just below a bud eye. Use a small knife
to scrap 2 strips of bark, each about 1-inch long, from opposite sides
of the stem base. Then use the point of the knife to make 3 or 4 shallow
slits the length of the scraped areas.
Dip the end of the Fortuniana for at least 6 seconds into the small
test tube containing water and 3 eyedroppers full of Dip & Grow. This
is to make a 5 to 1 mixture.
The prepared Fortuniana is inserted into the Fafard/Perlite mixture
with the foliage on each stick facing in the same direction. Then, when
the tray is placed in the mist house, it is placed so the foliage faces
the sun. It is important for the best rooting of the Fortuniana that the
mist house is in full sun.
Rooting of the Fortuniana takes place in about 4 weeks during the summer.
In the spring and fall it takes about 6 weeks and in the winter 8 or more
When I get ready to graft I take a cutting from the desired variety
(scion). Ideally the cane would have recently bloomed and the bud eyes
would be very swollen or maybe even started to grow with a ¼ inch
or so of growth. Each cutting should contain 2 sets of healthy leaves and
have at least 1 inch of stem below the bottom set of leaves. The cutting
is conditioned in warm water.
I put an old plastic table cloth on the dining room table and do all
my grafting there where I can be comfortably seated, have air conditioning,
and good lighting.
I take the tray of rootstock out of the mist house and place it on the
table. The cutting of the desired variety is held next to the various "sticks"
of Fortuniana to select which stick best matches it’s diameter. This stick
is slowly and carefully pulled from the tray so the delicate roots are
not torn off.
I lay the Fortuniana horizontal with the top end resting on the board.
Rotate the Fortuniana until the maximum amount of foliage is pointing toward
the ceiling. Use the razor blade to cut off the Fortuniana about 1 inch
above the top set of leaves. Then hold the razor blade straight up and
down and press straight down to make an approximately 3/4 inch deep V notch
in the top of the Fortuniana leaving a small shoulder on each side of the
V at the top.
Place the scion horizontally on the block of wood and rotate the scion
so that the bottom leaf is pointing at the ceiling. Holding the razor blade
straight up and down press down with the razor blade to cut a matching
V point on the bottom of the scion. The sides of this cut are slightly
longer than the V notch cut in the Fortuniana so a bare portion will be
exposed after the two parts are joined together. Make the top of this V
end just below the bottom of the bud eye in the scion.
Stick the two parts together with the bottom leaflet of the scion turned
toward the side of the Fortuniana that has the most foliage. They should
fit snugly together with the cambium layers lined up. Cut a piece of Parafilm
about ¼" by 1 ½" and wrap the joint by rolling the 2 pieces
using one hand while stretching the Parafilm tightly with your other hand.
The entire joint including the exposed portion of the scion just above
the Fortuniana is wrapped.
Prepare the Styrofoam cups ahead of time by using a pencil to punch
4 holes in the sides just above the bottom plus 1 hole in the center of
the bottom. The newly grafted starts are planted in the cup using a wet
mixture of 2/3 Fafard and 1/3 Perlite as before. However, now that we already
have roots, a small amount of Osmocote and Superphosphate is added to this
The cup is then watered and a nametag displaying the variety name and
grafting date is inserted. A trigger bottle is used to apply a mist of
water above and below the foliage to keep the grafted specimens, as well
as the tray of rootstock, from drying out while additional specimens are
The cups are set in a plastic tray that has 3-inch square compartments
before being placed in the mist house. Each cup is turned so that the maximum
amount of foliage is facing the sun.
You can see the V notch graft through the Parafilm. When it initially
heals it will make a white V. The graft is not well healed at this point.
Wait until the graft turns brown. By this time there should be roots visible
at the holes in the Styrofoam cups and it is time to remove it from the
mist house. This will take about a month depending upon the time of the
The start is potted up in a 1 gal. pot and set in the shade and watered
daily. After about a week it is gradually worked out into the sun. When
staking the small starts it is important that the tie is made above the
graft because, if it is only secured below the graft, the top may break
off in high wind.