Re-rooting Seedlings severed from roots by animals

Over the weekend I dug up some potted seedlings that I had over wintered in a trench of mulch. Unfortunately some critter got in to the trench and severed several seedlings from their roots (the entire top just came right out of the pot). On the plus side (I think)…the seedlings were a couple of years old and had quite a “crown” developed (if you can call it that) at the top of where the roots start. One of them was starting to grow tiny little white roots from that crown…another had 1 tiny little white root…and the other two had no new roots. On all of them the canes were still very healthy looking and starting to bud out.

Unfortunately, my first instinct was to reduce how much top growth needed to be supported, so I pruned the tops back pretty hard (stupid me didn’t think about cuttings at that time…duh! where was my brain???). Then I dug pretty deep in the pots and put them back in with half of the canes that were left below the soil surface. I then mounded mulch around the canes above the soil surface (like I would with a bare root). I’m not sure I have done the best I can to encourage new root development.

Does anyone have any suggestions to help here? I’m thinking maybe I should scar some of the canes that are below the soil surface like I would with a cutting…but I’m not sure I should keep pulling them out of the pot and inadvertently do more harm then good.

Three of the four seedlings have no duplicate plants anywhere else…so if they die, they are gone for good. :frowning: The fourth one is being grown elsewhere so I can get budwood or a plant back again of that one at least.

Mound them and keep them damp. A bit of plastic and shade (maybe a styrofoam cup or paper bag to keep direct sun off) would not hurt. If you left any bud eyes and can find rootstock, bud new plants before you mound and keep damp. If you don’t have regular rootstock, you can insert buds on the branches of rapidly growing varieties and then root those as cuttings. Or if you know someone with a mist bed, make a call. Good luck.


Peter, I do have them heavily mounded at the moment. It has been rainy yesterday and today, so I haven’t worried too much about the sun or moisture yet…but it is definitely something I should think about. Maybe treat them a little more like I do cuttings (partial sun, and trapping moisture in). I don’t have any rootstock at the moment, and everything is just now starting to bud out. Henry Kuska suggested approach grafting to me (over on RC), which I have never done before…but I am considering it since I have some roses with long bendable canes I could use to do that with. I won’t be able to get outside to try anything until tomorrow night because of the weather (rainy until tomorrow).

If I have enough cane on any one of them I may try a least one cutting from each of them. I typically have great success with cuttings…I just haven’t done cuttings from roses just barely breaking dormancy before. But it is worth a try.


What Peter suggested used to be one of the industry standards. According to a picture in a propagation book from the early 1900’s, one long (but healthy) cane of multiflora could have fifteen different roses budded onto it (each individually labeled) and then as the buds took, the long cane would then be cut and rooted.

Because crown gall is a problem in parts of my garden, I wouldn’t randomly scar the canes that are going to be underground. I would finger prune off where the axilary leaf nodes are and then apply an rooting hormone right there to try to spur on growth from the meristems there.


Michelle, I had a gopher chew off my original ‘Life Lines’ at the ground, but only noticed it when the planted suddenly started wilting. I treated it similarly to what you have done - pruned it severely, put it in a large pot, mounded potting soil over the whole crown and kept it moist. It bounced back well.

Ann, Joe Winchel also budded his seedling roses to long canes of rootstock, then after 3 weeks or so, cut them into small segments and rooted them. He had good success, and I think that he was careful not to mix in unknown roses (ones that might be virus infected) on the rootstock plants. I tried it, but decided it was safer to just graft to cuttings to avoid contaminating the mother rootstock plants.

Jim Sproul

Sorry to rehash an old topic… I’m just curious about something. You say that up to 15 different buds were grafted into a single multiflora cane… are the canes pegged down to horizontal to encourage the growth of the buds along the length of the cane?