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Propagating The Confederate Rose

How to get cuttings and grow the Confederate Rose.


A dear friend gave me cuttings of the beautiful Confederate Rose and I have been in love with them since they first bloomed in my garden.  I understand that the Confederate Rose (often called Cotton Rose) was imported from China into England in the 1600s.  It was much later that it came into the United States.  It marched through the South with its grand beauty and quickly became a favorite immediately after the Civil War.  Perhaps it was the tacit balm of beauty and dignity it exudes that caused it to gain favor so quickly. 


Not surprising, the legend of the Confederate Rose asserts that the flower was once pure white. During the Civil War, a soldier was fatally wounded in battle and fell upon the rose as he lay dying. During the course of time he took to die, he bled more and more until at last all the blossoms were covered with his blood. When he died, the flower died with him. Thereafter, the Confederate Rose opens white, and over the course of the two days the blossoms last, they turn gradually from white to pink to dark pink.


Now that I have rambled some, I want to tell you how to propagate this lovely plant. 

  • In the fall, before the first frost, take strong clippers and cut the branches into pieces about 18 inches long.  You may cut several pieces from one branch.  If you do this, be sure to always keep the lower end you cut as the lower end.  In other words don’t turn a middle piece upside down; it won’t root if you do.
  • Put the cuttings in a five-gallon bucket of water.   Have at least six to eight inches covered in water.
  • Keep the cuttings in a warm, sunny spot if you can.  If not, they will still do fine just about any where in your home.
  • I add sand to the water after they begin to root.  
  • In late spring, plant the new growth in a rich, loamy soil.  They need at least six hours of sun, and they require a lot of water during hot weather.  
  • It will grow and blossom on its own.  No pruning is required.  It will bloom in the fall and go dormant for winter.

I have been surprised by the growth of the cuttings.  I have seen roots come out quickly.  Other times I have thought they were not going to root at all, but saw live buds up and down the cutting.  They both lived and did well after they were planted in late spring.


The Confederate Rose is one of my favorite fall flowers and I think every southern garden should have at least one of these magnificent plants.

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