Rose plants for forcing purposes are generally grown from cuttings of the new wood made any time from November to February, but for most purposes the earlier date is preferable. The rule generally given for learning if the plants are in proper condition to be used for cuttings, i.e., when in bending a branch the wood snaps, does not hold for roses, as cuttings should not be made until the buds in the axils of the leaves have become firm and hard.
Some consider that the lower buds on a stem are in good condition when the flower buds are ready to be cut, while others believe that the best time for making the cuttings is when the buds begin to show colour. At any rate, the cuttings should be made before the leaf buds begin to swell.
The cuttings made as soon as the buds have formed and the wood has lost its succulent nature, will root quicker, and a much larger per cent of them will form roots, or "strike," as it is called. If the variety is a new and choice one, the blind shoots, or those that have not formed flower buds, are often used for making cuttings. While it may be done occasionally without marked injury, if persisted in the tendency will be to develop plants that form few flowering stems, and the results will not be satisfactory, so that the continued use of the blind shoots for cuttings is not to be recommended.
When the stems have long internodes, and particularly if it is a new sort, a cutting should be obtained from every good bud, but those at the lower part of the stem, and all at the upper portion that are to any extent soft and succulent, should be rejected.
The cuttings of American Beauty, and other varieties with short joints, should contain two or more buds. Cuttings should be from one and one-half to three inches long, with one bud near the top, at any rate, and with the lower end cut off smoothly at right angles, with a sharp knife. If the upper leaf is large, about one-half of it should be cut away, and the other leaves, if any, should be rubbed off.
The cuttings should be dropped into water to prevent their drying out, and as soon as possible should be placed in the propagating bed. This should contain about four inches of clean, sharp sand of medium fineness, and should have heating pipes beneath, to give bottom heat. Set the cuttings in rows, about two inches apart and three-fourths of an inch in the row, and press the sand firmly about them. At once wet them down thoroughly, and if the weather is clear and bright the beds should be shaded during the middle of the day for the first week.
The propagating house should be kept at a temperature, at night, of fifty-Height or sixty degrees, with about ten degrees more of bottom heat. During the day, it should be well ventilated to keep up the bottom heat and thus promote root development, and to admit fresh air, but a temperature ten degrees higher than at night is desirable.
In about three or four weeks, with proper care, every cutting should be rooted. The requirements for success, as noted above, are, good cuttings, clean, sharp sand, a proper temperature, shading when necessary, and an occasional wetting down of the bed, in order that the cuttings may not at any time become dry. If the house is inclined to dry out, or if the weather is bright, the cuttings as well as the walks should be sprinkled occasionally, and the ventilation should have careful attention. It is best to use fresh sand for each batch of cuttings.