A rose by any other name would smell... perhaps like a potato? You may have heard about the potato method of propagation, but why on earth would any self-respecting gardener attempt to grow beautiful, respectable roses by sticking them into a lowly root vegetable? As it turns out, the potato can help the rose retain moisture during its vulnerable rooting stage.
"Some folks have had success with the potato method, while some others have had either no success with it or only marginal success," writes Stan Griep, a Certified Consulting Rosarian for the American Rose Society and writer for Gardening Know How. He hasn't tried growing roses in potatoes yet, but concedes that it's not an entirely crazy thought. "There is some merit to the thought process of keeping the cutting moist," Griep said. "I must admit that using rose bush cuttings in potatoes is intriguing."
Hungarian gardener and YouTube user Fenyutas demonstrates his method of drilling holes in the center of the potato, then inserting the rose cutting a few inches deep. Griep recommends dipping the cutting into a rooting hormone compound before insertion, to stimulate root growth.
Fenyutas used both a red and a white potato for his video, varieties that Griep also recommends for their higher moisture content. Moisture is the whole reason for using the potatoes, after all.
After planting, Fenyutas upcycled some plastic bottles as covers to help protect the plants from drying out in the open air. Griep mentions using a jar, but most strongly recommends using a water wall for this purpose.
Unfortunately, Fenyutas' attempt was unsuccessful, but there are a number of factors that could cause this method to fail. Propagating roses is already a difficult task; if it were easily done, there would be no need to try out unusual methods! Also, Griep notes, many rose varieties are so fragile that they are actually grafted onto hardier rootstock. Trying to propagate a fragile variety in anything other than its specific, ideal conditions will result in failure.
Do you know of any gardening gurus or rose wizards that have attempted the potato method of rose propagation? What were their results? Share this story and let us know in the comments how it worked out!