"Rose Rustling" Etiquette

We all love roses, and there is a special thrill that comes with acquiring cuttings from an interesting specimen that you encounter as you pursue your path through life. The temptation is to look at the rose, and then look to the right and left, and then whip out the clippers and start snipping.

---- BUT DON'T DO IT! ----

The public good will toward rose rustlers is a fragile thing that needs to be cherished and protected. Few things will do more to damage our reputation and image than getting caught in the act - clippers and cuttings in hand - without having asked permission first.

While I do not know of any formal rules of rose rustling etiquette, I use the following guidelines for myself whenever I go out rustling:

  1. ALWAYS ASK FIRST.

    Unless you are at a remote site, such as along a roadside, with no signs of human habitation, you should always ask before you snip.
     
  2. TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF THE WORD "NO".

    If the owner says "NO", just thank him or her, and head on down the road. You never want to make people angry or impose on them.
     
  3. EXPLAIN WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

    Identify yourself and explain why you would like to have some cuttings. It sets people at ease if you let them know who you are, what you are doing, and how much you love roses.
     
  4. BE RESTRAINED!

    Never take more cuttings than the plant (or the plant's owner) can stand.
     
  5. TAKE PICTURES AND MAKE NOTES.

    Ask permission to take pictures of the plant and the flowers, and offer to send a copy of the pictures to the owner. Also make notes about the plant (preferably using a found rose form of some sort).

    This accomplishes two things:

    First, if you are approaching your rose rustling in a serious and "professional" manner, it will build the confidence of the owner that you are not a criminal and that you are not involved in some sort of scam.
     

    Second, the pictures and notes will help you document the cuttings, and they are very useful later when you are wondering (and trying to remember) what this strange little twig of a cutting will look like when it grows up.
  6. BE FRIENDLY AND SHARE INFORMATION.

    You almost certainly know more about roses than the owner of the plant, and the information that you can offer will usually be accepted as a fair exchange for the cuttings.
     
  7. EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE.

    Some people caution that it is bad luck to ever say "thank you" for a plant. But you can always express your appreciation for the owner's generosity. It also doesn't hurt to send a nice little note later on, reminding the plant's owner of his or her generosity in sharing the cuttings with you.
     
  8. OFFER SOMETHING IN EXCHANGE.

    In this world most people are more into taking than giving. But it is well to remember that we have been admonished from ancient times that "it is more blessed to give than to receive."

    It is really nice to offer a small rooted cutting as a gift to a generous plant owner, and it really pays off in good will. That may seem a bit extravagant, but a few extra cuttings in 4" pots really do not cost an experienced rose rustler anything but a little time and effort. If you can offer a little gift to someone that has been generous to you - well knows what may happen?
     
  9. LEAVE BEFORE THEY BEGIN TO THINK YOU ARE GOING TO STAY FOR DINNER.

    Your unexpected visit almost certainly interrupted something that the owner of the plant was doing. Be considerate of his or her time and leave while you are still friends. Just because you are enthusiastic about roses doesn't mean that you can let the owner's dinner burn on the stove. Most people are too polite to urge you on your way, so make a graceful exit before you take too much of his or her time.
     
  10. Last updated 03/23/2001