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How to Graft a Rose Bush

By Thomas K. Arnold ; Updated September 21, 2017

Grafting is joining two plants together by cutting off the upper part of one plant and splicing it onto the lower part of another. Grafting is commonly done in rose gardens, either to propagate a desirable but rare variety or to give a less-hardy rose with a superior bloom a better chance of survival by grafting one of its top shoots onto the stem of a sturdier variety. The upper part of the graft is called the scion, while the lower part is the understock. Grafted roses tend to be more uniform than those grown from seed, with more flowers.

Select the rose you want to propagate or cultivate on hardier root stock. Select a shoot with two or three buds. Cut a graft just above the leaf nodule. Slice diagonally, at an angle of about 10 degrees; then slice again to form a tongue, which you then want to carve into a "V" shape. Set the graft aside and mist with water.

Select the rose you want to use as the root stock. Use a rose in a container rather than an established plant already in the ground. Slice off the top part and then cut a notch in the stem, also at a 10-degree angle.

Tuck the graft into the root stock as tightly as you can, inserting the tongue into the notch on the stem.

Wrap the graft area with grafting tape or grafting wax. This is done to keep the cuts tight and to prevent drying out.

Spray a mist of water on the graft and then cover the plant with clear plastic wrap to retain humidity. Place the container in a shady area.

Gradually get the grafted rose accustomed to regular climate conditions. Poke a hole in the plastic wrap after the first day, then a few more holes the second day. By day six, the wrap will be ready to come off.

Keep the rose in the shade for another six days, then plant in the ground, water and fertilize. The grafting tape or wax should fall off by itself once the graft has taken.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Grafting tape
  • Grafting wax
  • Plastic wrap


  • The best time to graft is in the spring, at the start of the growing season.


  • Work as quickly as possible when doing the graft because you don't want it to dry out.

About the Author


Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.