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Propogation by Cuttings


What greater thrill for a gardener than to select a favourite plant and have the ability to reproduce it! Seed collection is one way of expanding your plant population but another way is by making cuttings. Nursery growers have perfected this art over years of experience. Propagation by cuttings takes a bit of a knack.

Cuttings can be taken from roots, leaves or stems. The stem cuttings can either be softwood, from the current season's growth, or hardwood from the dormant wood of the current season. Softwood cuttings are taken in the late spring or early summer and hardwood cuttings are taken in the fall or early winter. The easiest type for home gardeners to try and the one expanded upon here, are softwood cuttings.

Softwood cuttings are taken from the growing tips of deciduous trees, shrubs or perennials. These growing tips have a greater ability to produce roots and new tissue than the older stems. As youths heal quickly from injury, juvenile growing tips of plants will regenerate themselves rapidly. The timing will vary from plant to plant, year to year and location to location.

Plants vary in the speed and ease in which they root from cuttings. Many house plants or tender annuals are commonly rooted by simply placing the cut off portions in a jar of water. For others, timing and methods are critical.

You'll have the greatest success when cuttings are made after leaf expansion and prior to flower bud development. At this time, the energy generated from photosynthesis can be diverted from flower or leaf production into root growth. If the plant is in a state of flower production, it is less likely to have the capacity to generate roots.

Work in the early part of the day, in a cool, shady place. Don't let the cuttings dry out. Cut end pieces of branches, or the growing herbaceous tips 4-6 inches long, at a 45 angle. Use a sharp blade and make the cut one quarter of an inch below a node. The node is the junction of a leaf and the stem and contain buds. Remove one third of the leaves up from the base and pinch off the growing tip. Dip the base of the cutting in hormone powder, Stim Root #1, and insert into your growing medium.

Sand and vermiculite or perlite, sand and peat moss or other similar combinations are all effective rooting mediums. The medium needs to be light and airy so that the cuttings do not rot. These mixes should be evenly moist but not wet prior to putting the cuttings in them.

The objective in this early "survival period" is to provide the optimal environment so that regeneration will occur in the shortest time period. A correct balance of warmth, moisture and air will keep the cutting alive until the roots have established.

An easy, small scale method is to place the moistened rooting medium into a plastic bag, insert the hormone treated cuttings into the medium so that at least 1/3 of the cutting is buried. Blow air into the bag and tie it shut. Place the bag in a north window or in a shady part of the garden. After about two weeks, check the cuttings to see if any moisture is required. Most cuttings will root and begin to grow in 8-12 weeks.

A larger scale method is to use containers flats or boxes. Keep the environment humid by covering the containers with large sheets of plastic, making sure the plastic does not touch the cuttings, or by sticking the cuttings in a cold frame and mist daily. The cuttings need to be shaded from the direct sun.

After the cuttings have rooted they will need to be gradually hardened off so that they can be transplanted to their permanent location. The plastic should be removed and the shade gradually reduced. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with 20-20-20 at 1 tsp per gallon of water.

Some easy plants to start with are Forsythia, Snowball Viburnum, Weigela and Mock Orange. Once you‘ve succeeded with these, there will be no stopping your enthusiasm.

© Daisy Moore, 1998.



Other summer garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Extreme Conditions
Growing Roses
Summer Lawn Care
Propogation by Cuttings
Sources of Native Plants
Making Sense of Fertilizer Labels
Annual/Perennial Combinations
Climbing Plants
The Dry Garden
Ornamental Grasses
Chooosing A Good Gardening Book
Companion Planting
Preparing the Compost for Fall Use
Getting the Most out of your Vegetable Garden
Repairing Lawns From Summer Stress
All About Grubs
All About Onions
Useful Herbs for the Home Garden
Screens and Hedges




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© Daisy Moore 2005