I am far from an expert in getting roses to root themselves; I have been successful a few times and am doing that with this latest batch. I will share what I know, as well as passing along the advice from Louisa (Margaret) for taking hardwood cuttings in the fall.
I use semi-hardwood cuttings in the early summer. After a rose has flowered, and the bloom faded, I cut a piece about 8" long of the stem that had developed the current year. I have found that if the stem was still soft (red) it doesn't work. So I wait until it is somewhat woody, but not bark-ey. I cut the stem at the proper pruning place (just above a good leaf node) then trim away the bottom from the cutting to just below a leaf node. I cut off all the leaves that remain on the stem but the top leaflet. Make sure to cut off the faded flower.
I put the cut stems in a 4" deep pot containing equal amounts of perlite/vermiculite and sand. Firm the mixture all around the cuttings. The "pot" I use is a disposable bread pan with tiny drainage holes poked in the bottom; this is stood in a bigger pan lined with pebbles to retain some moisture.
I have not had good success in the past using commercial rooting hormone powder. I have heard that unless it is very fresh it loses its effectiveness. Don't know if this is true. Anyway, I get some branches of a willow tree and soak them in water for a day. I use this liquid to water the cuttings I have placed in the pots. I keep the rootings in an unheated greenhouse that is in a somewhat shaded area in our enclosed porch. I have tried doing them outside but find that they too quickly lose moisture; covering them makes them cook.
Louisa's method is done in the fall with more hardened wood. She prepares the cuttings as above, and puts them outside in a prepared bed. She digs a trench about 8" deep, lines with with sand about 3" deep (to help provide good drainage). She then fills the trench with soil. The cuttings are placed in the soil, and kept watered. She has had them root in about a month and a half. I believe her method would be very successful in the midwest starting cuttings in Sept, with the roses fairly well rooted in October, and ready to face winter on their own (without need of additional protection). I am going to try her method on a few roses that are very stubborn about rooting on the (possibly not ripe enough) semi-hardwood cuttings I have not had success with. Since Louisa lives in a more temperate climate (VA), she starts hers in October and they are well-rooted by November.
I would love to hear how others take cuttings; as well as different methods they have tried and not had success with.
WOW! Thanks for your detailed message on rooting rose canes. I will give it a try this fall. Am I to assume that during the summer is not a good time for rooting? Since I live fairly close to Louisa, I'm in Maryland, I will try her method. I had also read somewhere regarding willow water as a very good germinator. I didn't realize that packaged rooting hormone powder had a shelf life. However, that does make sense!
Good luck with the rooting of your new roses. Who knows, maybe if my rootings are successful, we will be able to trade one day.
Thanks again for all your help and very informative information :~)
My 'Soaring Flight' cuttings didn't take :( so I did some more today. My 'Pat Austin' ones have tiny root hairs! So do my 'Rose de Rescht'! My 'Buffalo Gal' have put out a new leaf, but no sign yet of root hairs. My 'Abraham Darby' cuttings are doing the best so far: lots of root hairs, new growth, etc. Inconclusive so far on 'Wild Spice'; they haven't died, yet no root hair or new growth; will keep a close eye on them...
Shirley, you can try some cuttings now and in the fall. Let us all know how they are doing.