Here at High Country Roses, all of our plants are grown on their own roots. That simply means that we produce our roses by method called Asexual Vegetative Propagation. In more practical terms, we induce roots to grow on sections the rose’s stem through the application of plant hormones. Sometimes the process is referred to as cloning because the resulting plant is genetically identical to the parent. No matter what you call it, we produce between 50,000 and 70,000 cuttings each year. Success rates vary greatly by variety. Sometime we see 100% success and sometimes it’s as little as 2% to 3% (I’m looking at you Great Maiden’s Blush). From those cuttings, we yield between 30,000 and 40,000 plants that will be sold the following season.
Why on earth would we undertake such a time consuming and, at times, mindbogglingly frustrating process? Simply we believe it’s the best way to produce plants in terms of overall health and longevity. Own root roses are genetically the same from root tip to bloom and this is far different from the majority of mass-produced roses that are grafted. The grafting process involves attaching the more desirable top of one plant to the healthier root system of another. In theory, this allows for a more vigorous plant but, especially in colder areas, we do see problems.
Have you ever had a yellow rose that came back the following season as a leggy red shrub? What you are seeing is called root stock emergence. The red rose is probably Dr Huey, one the most prolific root stock roses in commerce. Around Colorado, we see Dr. Huey popping up all over the place each spring. While Dr. Huey is a very nice plant, it’s usually not quite what the gardener had in mind when the rose was purchased. Growing roses on their own roots eliminate this issue entirely.
Some additional benefits to own root roses:
- Longer life expectancy and better long-term health.
- Increased vigor and bloom especially in the long term.
- In cold climates, roses on their own roots tend to be hardier
- Own-root roses naturally send up shoots from the soil, which eventually creates a shapelier bush than a grafted rose.
- Eliminates rootstock disease and suckering.
Growing own root roses guarantees that your roses will always be the same genetically true roses you selected at purchase and sets your garden up for years and years of success.