Do you want to grow more plants? Would you like to know how to take cuttings from plants? There are many benefits to taking plant cuttings, including being able to save money on your garden.
Cuttings allow you to multiply the number of plants from one existing plant without needing complicated equipment or a lot of resources. You can also propagate tender plants like verbena and fuchsias using these methods which can be beneficial in colder climates where these types might not survive outdoors all year round.
Plants contain the most water (Turgid) in the morning, so it’s best to take a cutting then. It is best to take softwood cuttings from mid-spring to early summer, and hardwood cuttings a little later in the year from around mid-autumn right through to mid-winter is possible.
How to take cuttings from plants: You will need a sharp knife or secateurs
Equipment needed before you start.
Generally, you will need:
- Sharp knife (Softwood Cuttings ) or Secateurs (Hardwood Cuttings)
- Plastic bags to collect cuttings
- Multipurpose potting compost
- Hormone rooting powder
Needed in addition, for softwood cuttings:
How do you start a plant from a cutting?
- Before you start cutting, prepare your pots with compost and water so they are ready to accept your softwood cuttings.
- In order to make a cutting, be sure it includes at least two leaves and one node. A strong side shoot with no flowers is ideal for cutting. Cut between 5-10cm (2-4in) long and just below the leaf joint (node) to ensure success.
- Now, after removing the leaves from the lower half of your cutting, you should pinch off its growing tip.
- After leaf removal, place cuttings in a plastic bag to stop them from drying out. You should pot the plants up as soon as possible after you have done this.
- When ready to open the bag, you can now promote root development by dipping the base of your cutting in the hormone rooting powder, this reduces the risk of bacterial infection. However, this step is not essential for easy-to-root plants. After you dip it, tap off any excess powder.
- Carefully make a planting hole into the centre of the compost filled pot, using your dibber or similar object. Make sure that it is slightly larger than the diameter of the stem you wish to place to prevent any rooting hormone from being removed when you embed the new plant cuttings into the compost mix.
- When placing your cutting, ensure the lowest pair of leaves are just above the surface of the compost firming the compost around it.
- To propagate a new plant from your cutting, place the potted cutting in a closed propagator, with bottom heat of 18-24C (64-75F). Covering it up with a clear plastic bag and keeping it somewhere warm, but providing indirect sunlight will suffice if you don’t have any other equipment. Open the propagator vents daily, or make sure to ventilate the pot at least twice a week for about 10 minutes so that air can circulate without harming your cutting.
- The cuttings should be kept moist until roots are well-established. This will take between 2 to 8 weeks dependant on the plant cutting.
- Once the cuttings have grown roots, they must be gradually hardened off by taking them outside and bringing them in at night for about two weeks. Bringing the plants inside with a fleece covering or gradually increasing the ventilation of plastic bags can allow their soft leaves to develop a robust water-proof coat, that will protect them in low humidity environments.
- After the cuttings have been hardened off, replant them into larger pots and grow until they are big enough to plant out.
How to take cuttings from plants: Plant cutting after being dipped in hormone power
You should take hardwood cuttings in the autumn after the plants have dropped their leaves and are dormant. However, it is important to remember not to do so when there’s frost about because this could damage your plant material.
- From your parent plant, choose strong stems from the tip of a healthy-looking shoot. Remove any soft growth at the top without damaging too much stem length.
- Cut the stems into sections at around 6-12in (15-30cm) long each one. Each section should be cut just above a bud, making the cut at an angle slightly to stop rainwater from getting in, but also so you can easily remember which end was the top. The bottom of your stem section should then be cut straight across, under one joint (node).
- The ‘straight’ end of the cutting will need to be dipped into hormone rooting powder.
- If you are planning to take several cuttings, prepare a narrow trench outside that is sheltered from the elements, if the winter is very cold, you may need to use a cloche or cold frame in order to protect your stems. We recommend using sand/grit as your base layer and then filling it with soil mixed with compost before placing the rooted plants into this bed for most of the following year.
If taking just a few cuttings or if space does not permit use pots instead filled equally between multipurpose compost and grit in order to ensure good drainage.
You can take a cutting from many different plants if you know how to do it. For example, softwood cuttings are ideal for tender flowers like pelargoniums and petunias as well as deciduous shrubs such as Lavender, Rosemary, Fuchsias, Hydrangeas, Lavatera and Buddleja.
One can propagate deciduous shrubs, like Roses, climbers like Honeysuckle and Grapevines as well as fruit bushes such as Blackcurrants, Redcurrants, Gooseberries and Figs all through hardwood cuttings.
Once you master the technique of how to take cuttings from plants you will find it is typically more successful with fleshy-stemmed plants. Both outdoor garden plants and indoor houseplants can be propagated in this way. Some failures are common, so don’t let this discourage you.
Taking a plant cutting is an easy and enjoyable way to propagate new plants. If you’re unsure of how to take cuttings from your favourite plants, look at these simple steps above; it only takes a few minutes of your time.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in providing more information about taking plant cuttings at home. Please feel free to share it with friends who are just getting into gardening or looking for great ideas on what to grow.
Have fun experimenting with different types of plants too-you may be surprised by how many can survive inside during winter months if given proper care!
Finally, you can always pop over to our FAQ page to find out more about plant propagation and a whole host of answers to other gardening questions and queries.