Floriculture pp. 33-35 (1832)
By Joshua Mantell, Surgeon


The rose, either on account of its beauty, fragrance, and adaptation to every soil and situation, or from the many pleasing associations with which it is connected, has ever been esteemed a favourite. The more gaudy flowers of the parterre have, in succession, had their admirers, and delighted for a season the eye of their votaries; but, existing merely as the children of art, they have each been swept away by the caprice of fashion, while the rose, the child of nature, has, from the remotest antiquity, uniformly found a place in every garden, and is equally the delight and ornament of the palace and the cottage. Although the varieties of the rose are exceedingly numerous, but few sorts have been cultivated till within the last forty years, since which period a great number of beautiful varieties have been raised from seed on the Continent; and, in this country, upwards of 300 new varieties, chiefly from the R. spinosissima, or Scotch rose, have been produced. Some of these, however, so nearly resemble each other, that many persons have doubted whether they are distinct varieties, or whether the trifling distinction which does exist, merely arises from soil and situation. However this may be, the distinction among many of the French roses is so trifling, as scarcely to be discernible; and most judges have come to the conclusion that there does not really exist more than about 500 distinct varieties.

The rose thrives best in a rich, strong, loamy soil, and is generally propagated by layers, when the true sorts are intended to be preserved.

The Banksiae, Noisette, and Rosa indica, with its varieties, are propagated by cuttings. The Provence, or cabbage-rose, may be increased by suckers; and when standards, or a variety of coloured flowers, upon the same tree are required, then budding or grafting must be had recourse to.

Propagation by seed is practised where new varieties are wanted: the seeds are usually sown about the latter end of February, and will come up about the middle of July;—the young seedlings may be separately planted out the following spring.

The operation of layering is thus performed; about the beginning of July, just when the tree is coming into flower, being provided with a sharp knife, and a few booked pegs, commence by taking hold of the shoot intended to be layered, and making an incision just below the bud, on the upper side of the branch, pass the knife half way up to the next bud; then give the branch a slight twist, that the part so cut may rest upon the soil, fix in the peg, to hold the layer in its place, and cover it up with soil, to about the depth of two inches. The custom of layering without the incision, so greatly retards the striking of the roots, that frequently they cannot be detached from the stools till the following spring; whereas, if the incision be made, they will be ready, in favourable seasons, in two or three months.

Cuttings, planted in leaf mould and light loam, in the month of May, and placed in a northern aspect, under a hand-glass, strike root readily, and may be potted off in the autumn. There are very few, except the China rose and its varieties, that succeed by this mode of propagation.

Suckers.—All the common varieties admit of being propagated by suckers or by division of the root.

Budding is usually performed in the month of July, and by this operation it is supposed that the flowers are rendered more brilliant and durable. Although tolerable success may attend the operation when performed in July, some prefer delaying it until the beginning of August, as by this method the buds will remain dormant during the winter, and will produce more vigorous shoots the following spring than those which were budded at an earlier period—the latter being liable to be injured by severe frosts, from the imperfect ripening of their young wood, before the winter season commences.

The common dog-rose, transplanted from copses and hedges, any time from the middle of October to the end of November, furnishes the best stocks for standard roses. In making a selection, those should be preferred which are straight and vigorous, and they should be headed down at the time of transplanting to the height required. In the spring, when they begin to shoot, the superfluous buds should be removed, leaving only three or four at the top to form the head of the tree.

As the summer advances, the stocks will require to be staked, and constant attention must be paid to disbudding, and to the regulation of the young shoots, by occasionally pinching off their tops. Early in July the thorns in those parts of the young wood, where it is designed to make incisions for the buds, should be removed. Budding on the young wood is recommended, because, by putting three or four buds on as many young shoots, a handsome head will be obtained sooner than by any other method; but if these shoots should be too slender, the operation may be performed upon the old wood when the bark separates freely; for, if the bark does not rise with facility, owing to a deficiency of sap, there will be considerable trouble in inserting the bud at all; and should that difficulty be overcome, the pains would even then be lost, for the bud would almost certainly perish from want of sufficient sap to nourish it.

In arid situations, or in dry summers, watering the stocks copiously, for two or three weeks previous to budding them, will give strength to their shoots, and ensure the bark rising freely; which latter point is very essential towards obtaining complete success.

In preparing the bud, it is unnecessary to adhere to the common practice of removing the bit of wood attached to the bark, which is taken along with it from the scion. Omitting to do this saves much trouble, and the unfailing success attending the mode has been established and confirmed by the results of repeated trials. Cloudy weather, or the evening, should be chosen for inserting the buds—an operation which ought never to be attempted under a hot sun, or during cold east or north-east winds. 'The rose may be budded in spring with complete success, if the buds are extracted with a small portion of wood adhering to them. For this purpose, scions are cut before winter, and stuck into the ground till spring, when the bark of the stock will run. To prepare the bud, a transverse incision is made in the wood, a little below an eye, which incision is met by a longer cut downwards, commencing at a short distance above the eye, care being taken that a portion of wood is removed with the bark. This bud is inserted into the bark of the stock, which is cut like an inverted T; the horizontal edges of this cut in the stock and of the bud must be brought into the most perfect contact with each other, and then bound with water-proof bass, without, however, applying grafting-clay. Eight days after the insertion of the bud, the stock is pruned down to the branch, which is immediately above the opposite side, and this branch is stopped by being cut down to two or three eyes; all the side wood is destroyed, and when the bud has pushed its fifth leaf, it is compelled to branch by pinching its extremity, and will then flower in September of the same year.

'The rose may be budded in the spring without waiting till the bark separates, by placing the bud, with some wood on it, in a niche made in the stock, similar to what would be formed by taking an eye for budding from it in the manner above described, and into which it is fitted exactly with a slight pressure. It is recommended to make the cut for the niche where there is already a bud on the stock; when placed, the bud is then bound with bass, and covered with mastic, made of Burgundy pitch, white wax, and boiled turpentine, with a little size, if necessary. Common cotton tape, rather more than the eighth of an inch wide, answers better than bass for ligatures; it may be procured at a trifling expense, and is more pleasant and convenient for use.

'Roses may be propagated by grafting as successfully as by budding. In Flanders, cleft-grafting is adopted, and care taken that the scion is of the same diameter as the stock, or the cleft in the stock made sufficiently near one side of the cross section, that the bark of the scion may fit the stock on both sides. This mode is adopted for grafting one sort of garden rose upon another. In grafting upon the dog-rose, the same practice is followed, with this addition, that a shoulder is very often made to the scion, so that it may rest with greater firmness upon the stock, such stocks being often employed as standards, and therefore more exposed to wind. The grafts are tied with fine bass, made water-proof, by passing it first through a solution of white soap, and next through one of alum, a neutral compound being thereby formed, insoluble in water. The ligature is covered with a coat of marly clay, mixed with slaked lime, and moistened with white of eggs, beat up with four or five parts of water, and the composition is usually applied with a brush. In this country, where the summers are not quite so hot as in Flanders, common grafting-clay may be used.

'In pruning roses of every kind, the shoots are annually shortened to nine inches; this process rendering the tree highly productive of wood and flowers. The operation is performed about the end of January, and all the wood of four years' growth entirely cut out. To retard the blooming season, and to cause roses to flower in the autumn, they are pruned back in the spring as soon as the flower-buds can be discovered; and these not being renewed till late in the autumn, the flowering season is considerably prolonged.'—Dr. Van Mons, Hort. Trans, vol. vi.

The rose is much infested with insects, particularly the Aphis Rosa, which, however, may easily be destroyed if the trees are in a house, by fumigating with tobacco, or if in the open air, by making a solution of quick lime, soot, and water, in the proportion of one peck of each to ten gallons of water:—after being well stirred together, and left standing until the water has become quite clear, take it out with a watering-pot, and mix with it about one-sixth of strong tobacco-water, which, if applied to the roses with a syringe, will effectually destroy the Aphides, and generally the larvae of other insects, which roll themselves up in the leaves and buds of the flowers.