How to Graft Knock Out Roses

Photograph of a rose

Grafting roses requires speed.

Knock out roses are a manufactured breed of rose, produced through selective breeding for its hardiness and appealing looks. As a result of this breeding, it is an almost entirely sterile rose; with the female plants being almost entirely infertile. When attempting to propagate it is therefore essential to know how to cut and graft knock out roses in order to ensure any level of success.

Things You’ll Need

  • Knock out roses
  • Gardening clippers
  • Glass
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Razor blade
  • Host rose bush
  • Gardening tape
  • Garden cloche

Cutting the Knock Out Rose

  1. Examine the stems of the knock out roses to be cut carefully. Choose only stems that do not show any sign of damage or disease as these will reduce the chance of a successful grafting. Of the suitable stems, choose those that have between three and five buds on them. Angle your clippers at 45 degrees to the stem and cut it close to the shaft of the rose.
  2. Fill a glass with water. Place the cut end of the stems in the water. Leave the stems to soak for three hours. Remove the stems from the water. Dry the stems thoroughly with a towel, using light dabs in order to not damage the fragile cut ends.
  3. Slice the stem just above the first of the buds. Slice downwards along the stem until you reach the other side of the buds, leaving a line approximately 1/2 inch long. Remove the bud. Repeat for all the other buds. The cut stems can now be disposed of, as it is the buds you will be grafting onto the host.

Grafting the Knock Out Rose

  1. Choose a rose bush that will act as the host for the grafted knock out roses. Make a T-cut in the stem by sliding the razor blade into the stem to a depth of 1/8 inch, then turn the blade through 90 degrees and pull 1 inch down the stem. This loosens a flap of the surface material of the stem.
  2. Peel the flap back far enough to insert one of the buds. Insert the bud into the flap with the cut end pushing into the host. Slide the bud as far into the host as it will go, making sure it is a snug fit. Let the flap fall back over the bud.
  3. Cut two pieces of gardening tape using the razor blade. Wrap the first piece around the stem of the host plant, 1/2 an inch above the bud. Wrap the second piece around the stem 1/2 an inch below the bud. Repeat the grafting process for all the other buds you wish to graft onto this host plant.
  4. Store the host rose bush out of direct sunlight in a garden cloche. Allow the plant to rest in the cloche for between four and seven weeks. During this time it is best to leave the plant alone, as this will increase the chance of a successful graft.


  • After the seven week rest period, do not simply plant the rose bush outside as this can cause it to go into shock. Gradual reintegration improves the chances of the bush surviving. Start by removing the cloche for an hour on the first day, two hours on the second and so forth until day six when you can move it into the shade and water. Re-plant the bush and fertilize it after a week.
  • Successful grafting requires speed. The longer the process takes, the less likely it is that the graft will take hold. For best results you should therefore have all your equipment to hand when you start. Work as quickly as you can without being careless, otherwise you could end up cutting yourself quite badly.

Further Reading

Photograph by Neoriz.

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