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Issue: June 4

Although unlikely, it may not be impossible to grow roses from a long stem rose from a flower arrangement

Q. I have been drying some long stem roses from a celebration of life party. They are all dried, but the white ones are sprouting new leaves! Talk about an angel still smiling down! Should I keep them in water? Will they sprout roots? Should I just stick them in a pot with potting soil?

Judy O'L.

A. It is not likely that the roses used as cut flowers will sprout roots, but it is not totally impossible. I am assuming that they are still in water and the stems are not dried out (you said you were drying them, so I assume the flowers have dried). If the stems are still plump and not shriveled and the leaves are developing well, you can try to root the stems. Remove the spent flowers (leave at least 4 to 6 nodes on the part of the stem that you will try to root). Dip the base of the stem in rooting powder (immediately after taking it from the water - the water will help the rooting powder stick). Then put the cuttings in pots of good, moist potting soil in which you have dibbled (preformed) holes for the stem. (Dibbling prevents rubbing off the rooting powder.) Gently press the soil around the stem, moisten a little. Then place the pot and cutting in a plastic bag to maintain humidity around the cutting (white garbage bag or clear). Put this in a place with bright light, but not in direct sunlight that would cook the cutting. Check periodically to see that the soil remains moist. Add water only when needed. Do not add fertilizer. In one to two months roots should have formed. As the new growth enlarges, gradually open the plastic bag to allow circulation of fresh, drier air. As growth continues, you can begin to roll the bag down, exposing more and more of the new plants. If they still do not wilt, you can remove the bag. By fall, or next spring you can plant the new roses in the garden. If you decide to wait till next spring to plant them, do not leave them outside during the coldest weather, but encourage them to go dormant by putting them outside when it is cool. If the temperature drops below 25 degrees outside, move them to the garage or some other cool, but warmer location (40 to 32 degrees). Roots in pots are exposed to lower temperatures than roots in the ground, so do not let the roots get extremely cold.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h or http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/periodicals.html

Send your gardening questions to:

Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.