Tag: cuttings

Electronic Mist Controller for Propagation

I’ll be using an Arduino controller and rain sensors to build an automatic mist controller for my cutting propagation. I couldn’t find anything off-the-shelf that met my needs: I want my mist irrigation to adapt to weather changes by increasing or reducing the frequency of watering cycles. I can use the rain sensors to simulate how quickly water will evaporate from my plant leaves. This is my first attempt at an Arduino project, programming… and I’m not too comfortable with electronics in general, so I’ll happily take advice and feedback from more experienced hobbyists.

Because I was learning as I went, I bought a little more than I needed to (like the whole Arduino starter kit). If I were budgeting this with only the parts I need, it would be in the range of $40 or $50.

Here’s the video of what I put together:

Below is the code I ended up using, which is a little revised from the first version in the video:

* Electronic mist control
* This my first attempt at Arduino coding – be kind!
* Most of this is just mashed together from the included samples

const int waterPin = 2;
const int threshold = 1600;
const int duration = 6000;
const int waterDelay = 10000;

void setup()

pinMode(waterPin, OUTPUT);


void loop()


digitalWrite(waterPin, HIGH);

int valsensor1 = analogRead(A0); // read input from 1st sensor
int valsensor2 = analogRead(A1); // read input from 2nd sensor

Serial.print(“Sensor 1 = “);


Serial.print(“Sensor 2 = “);


if (valsensor1+valsensor2>threshold) {

Serial.println(“Watering… “);

digitalWrite(waterPin, LOW);
digitalWrite(waterPin, HIGH);

} else {
Serial.println(“No water required”);



Hardwood rose cuttings, quick and easy

During the main growing season, I find myself splitting my time in many directions: the day job, kids, selling activities, watering, mowing, tomatoes, and the list goes on. Rose propagation, just by lack of urgency, tends to drop to the bottom of the list. That’s why I’m renewing my efforts at late-season hardwood cuttings of my roses. They’re easy to do, they don’t require a lot of maintenance, and the way I do them now, I can line up hundreds at a time into a single bed. Very satisfying!

The right timing

The kind of cuttings you should take depends a lot on the firmness of the rose’s wood, which in turn depends a lot on the season. In the spring and early summer, the new growth on your roses will be soft wood – very bendable. I don’t use this kind of wood for cuttings. As the roses bloom and ripen into summer, you will be able to find semi-hardwood sections of wood. I do semi-hardwood cutting extensively, and you can find my instructions in this article. For hardwood cuttings, of the kind I’m describing here, look for full ripened, firm wood from the current year of growth. For best results, I recommend cuttings in the late fall or early winter, when the weather is cool.

Where to cut

Not every rose is the same, and so the thickness, length and number of nodes present on your cutting may vary. Roughly speaking, you should be sectioning you cuttings to the length and thickness of a pencil. Take your top cut above a node – identifiable by the dormant bud and leaf scar. On the bottom end, cut just below a node. Because you’ve chosen fully ripened wood, it should be quite firm. If there are leaves still on the rose, you can strip them off.

My shortcuts and tweaks

Check out my particular setup here:

I’ve scaled-up my hardwood propagation this year, and that’s why I’ve focused on simplicity:

  1. I’m not using any rooting hormone, as I haven’t noted any difference in success rate while using it for winter cuttings
  2. I’ve used a prepared bed in one of my greenhouses, where I can easily protect them and control moisture
  3. Instead of digging a trench for the cuttings, I’m using a pitchfork to “dibble” holes, and then just firming the cuttings in

I’ll follow up with another article when it comes time to dig the (hopefully) rooted cuttings next year!

And for those in Canada who want to buy, sell or trade roses and/or cuttings, I invite you to join this Facebook Group.




Trading Roses & Cuttings

Recently, I’ve been talking to anyone who will listen about why we (rose gardeners) need to take control of our own hobby and safeguard the many garden-worthy, heirloom and unique roses that are no longer offered “in the trade”. Think about this for a minute: we have over 2000 years of rose cultivation under our belts, and thousands of exceptional cultivars selected. Yet, we’re going to leave it to some buyer at a national home improvement store, sales report in hand, to decide which ones will carry on and be offered to the next generation of gardeners. Can you say “Knock-Out”?

Madame Hardy, pictured above, will probably never make the cut at the big-box stores – but still deserves an honored place in the garden. Thus, we need a plan.

If you look back on my previous posts, or at my Youtube videos, you’ll see me giving instruction on how to take semi-hardwood cuttings. I’ll probably add another one shortly on how you can stick winter-season hardwood cuttings. I also talked to the Fraser Pacific and Vancouver Rose Societies about how we can work together to keep our best garden roses being propagated and distributed to budding gardeners.

If we’re not going to rely on the big nurseries, just how do we expect it to happen? 

And just how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do we save garden-worthy roses? One rose at a time.

This is my first offer: If you have a rare but worthwhile rose in your garden, and are willing to root some cuttings, I’ll be happy to trade you something interesting from my assortment. I’ll plant your rooted rose as a trial plant in my garden, and if I also find it worthwhile, I’ll continue to propagate it for sale. And that’s that… one more rose back “in the trade”, insofar as you can call our little farm part of the nursery trade.

And my other offer: Maybe you don’t have the time or wherewithal to root your roses, or maybe you’re too far away from the Fraser Valley to make sense of trading potted roses. Nonetheless, if you have a rare rose in your garden, and you’d like to see it back in distribution, you could send me some cuttings. I’ll happily pay the postage. On my end, I’ll stick the cuttings and see if I can get some roses rooted. In return for your efforts, upon successful rooting, I’ll send you your choice of some rooted rose liners.

So that’s my part in it… but I’m just one guy. The more gardeners we get involved in preserving roses, the better we can help each other to take control of our hobby. That’s why I’m asking you to arrange your trades of cuttings or roses on this Facebook group: Canada Rose Cuttings & Exchange.

We can share our lists: what we have, what we’re looking for. But we can also share techniques, arrange trades, discuss suppliers… anything related to the propagation and dissemination of hard-to-find roses. I hope to catch up with you there.


Grow roses with cuttings taken from your own yard

Hundreds, if not thousands, of garden-worthy varieties of roses are in danger of disappearing. I could give a long rant about the reasons why – but it really is as simple as this: for various reasons, even wonderful roses can fall out of fashion, sales fall below a certain level, the big nurseries can’t make money propagating them in large numbers, so they fall “out of the trade”.

Here’s where the little guys like you and me come in, and here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Collect out-of-patent and garden-worthy roses before they disappear from the nurseries
  2. Take cuttings
  3. Once rooted, sell them or give them away
  4. Accept my thanks for keeping old & uncommon roses alive and for sharing the hobby!

Of the actions listed above, numbers 1 and 4 are pretty easy… I suspect if you have any questions, it’ll be about the “taking cuttings” and the “rooting” part. Happily, there’s plenty of information out there about how to take semi-hardwood cuttings of roses (my preferred method). My part is to encourage you to get some experience doing it, and to answer any questions you may have. My own success rate varies according to how much time I have to attend to the cuttings, but I still manage to root in the range of 1000 per year on a part-time basis.

Here’s an introductory video I made on the topic:

Some people learn from watching, but I really need to emphasize that the best way to learn propagation is by throwing caution to the wind and just doing it. Get those clippers into your hands and get snipping – even if you’re not sure you’re doing it right. You’ll get a feel for it as you get experience handling the roses and cuttings.

To recap and detail the points on the video:

  • Start with clean, sharp clippers. I use a Felco, but any decent quality blades will do as long as you keep them sharp and clean.
  • Select a section of the rose’s stem – a good section has at least 3 or 4 nodes and is somewhere around 4 to 6 inches in length, the thickness of a pencil or slightly thinner. What’s a node? It’s a place where a leaf emerges from the stem. If the section doesn’t have leaves at every node, you can recognize the node by the bud – see this picture as an example:
  • It may take some practice to choose the right “firmness” or ripeness of the wood. See in the video for the way I try to bend the stem – if it bends very easily, it’s too soft. If it wont bend without feeling like it will snap, it’s too hard. If you’re not sure, just take and stick the cutting anyhow. Your success rate will tell you if you got it right.
  • Cut just below the bottom node, and just above the top node. Strip off most of the leaves. In my cuttings, I leave two leaflets on the top node and that’s all.
  • To help with your success, you can dip in a rooting hormone.
  • Stick the cutting in a sterile, well-drained potting mix. No fertilizer please. You only have to push it in by an inch or two – just enough to keep it stable and upright under the mist.
  • Yes, there are alternatives to mist. I’ve had decent success with a humidity dome or tent in the past. It depends on how many you’re doing. Let me know if you need any tips! It’s important not to keep the cuttings water-logged while they’re trying to root.
  • You’ll know your cutting is beginning to “take” if it’s forming white callus along the base of the cutting. Here’s an example:
  • Reduce the mist / humidity when the cutting “pulls back” when you gently tug upward on it. At this point, the early callus tissue have begun to form roots, as pictured here:
  • If you grow in the 9cm size pots I use, you can leave the cuttings to fully root and grow for 6 months, a year, or more before you have to do anything with it. Here’s an example of one I overwintered from last year:
  • And that’s it… you have a well-established rose, ready to go into a larger pot or to be sold, traded or given away.

“Sooner or later, every gardener comes around to roses” was a quote from Christine Allen, I think, in a book I read. The prospect of that seems pretty bleak right now… it appears that gardening trends have placed the rose, with all its associated baggage, in an unfavorable position. Those of us who have come around to the hobby, we have the great good fortune to inherit 2000+ plus years of rose varieties, passed down from ancient China and Rome and the middle-east – along with the efforts of hundreds of breeders in modern times from all around the world, including Canada. Let’s take the opportunity to gather those hybrids we like the best, and share them with each other so that if (when?) all the other gardeners “come around to roses” there’s something of this magnificent hobby left for them to enjoy.