While the large uniform blooms of hybrid roses are beautiful to behold, the heady scent of an heirloom rose in bloom is beyond description. Heirloom roses, those dainty darlings that took center stage before the introduction of the tea rose in 1867, are still favorites of many gardeners. While you can purchase heirloom roses from a nursery, often grown on stock roots, you may propagate a true form of the mother bush by taking cuttings.
Select a healthy heirloom rosebush during its peak growing season, when it is producing buds and blooms. Late spring or early summer works well.
Choose a rose stem with an unopened bud near the top and cut the stem approximately 6 inches long. Cut 1/2 inch below a set of leaves with very sharp pruning shears.
Spray the cutting with insecticidal rose spray, taking care to spray the underside of the leaves.
Cut the bud from the top of the stem, leaving at least 4 inches of stem.
Strip the bottom set of leaves from the stem by grasping with your thumb and forefinger and snapping quickly downward.
Dip the bottom of the stem into rooting compound to a depth that just covers the small joints left behind after you removed the leaves. This is where the new tiny roots will form.
Insert the cutting into damp, but not soggy, sterile perlite grow mix until the bottom leaves are just below the surface. This will leave only an inch or two of stem sticking out of the grow mix.
Set the pot, with the cutting, inside an open gallon-size zip-type bag and mist the cutting lightly with water before sealing the bag. This forms a little greenhouse that will maintain uniform humidity and keep airborne dust and insects out.
Place your cutting and bag in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight where nighttime temperatures do not drop below 50 degrees.
Check the cutting weekly. When new growth appears, in about four weeks, open the top of the bag about an inch to allow a little fresh air in; after a day or two, remove the bag completely and let your new heirloom rose plant grow in its pot for a couple more weeks before transplanting into your garden.