Planting cuttings is a perfect way to have more lush flowers, herbs, and other plants in your garden without spending any money. You can get plant cuttings from the flowers you already have, or ask your friends to take some from their gardens if you want more variety.
Propagating with cuttings is one of the simplest methods and requires little time and effort. In a short time, your collection of plants will include brand new specimens, and it will be more beautiful than ever.
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What is a cutting?
A cutting is simply a part of a plant taken for vegetative reproduction. It will develop into an exact copy of the mother plant. It’s simple; you can cut almost anything: annual, perennial, house plants, shrubs and trees. The techniques vary a little from plant to plant. Keep in mind that it is only the bulbs that cannot be cut.
Always use a sterilised, sharp knife or scissors to avoid damaging and contaminating the mother plant. Choose a perfectly healthy plant and take the cuttings from below a bud. The choice of substrate will depend. Some houseplants may get roots in water or a substrate with or without soil, while others need something more specific. If you’re not sure, you can try several cuttings in different ways to ensure that at least one of them will grow roots.
The different types of cuttings
There are different types of cuttings. The way to tell them apart is based on the plant’s age and the “material”. Here are the main types that you can find:
- Softwood cuttings are collected in the spring or early summer. They come from plants that are still in the early ripening process (less than a year of age). They can grow roots in a soilless substrate such as vermiculite, perlite, sand, or a combination of all three.
- Greenwood cuttings, also known as herbaceous, come from plants with non-woody stems.
- Semi-hardwood cuttings are harvested from mid-summer to fall and have mature leaves.
- Hardwood cuttings seem to grow roots faster when taken during the dormant season. They will benefit from a rooting hormone, as the plant material is more mature and therefore needs encouragement to grow roots.
A step-by-step guide to growing plants from cuttings
Now, let’s get down to business! You have to check if the plant you’re going to take your cuttings from can actually grow that way. Then you need to follow some simple steps! First of all, you don’t want to damage the mother plant and secondly, you have to make sure that your cutting will grow roots and become a solid and flourishing plant like the one it’s coming from. Here’s what you need to do:
Sterilise the pruner or razor before cutting the stems to protect both the mother plant and your cuttings from bacteria or infections. Always wear rubber gloves before cutting the stems, as they can cause skin irritation.
Choose a healthy branch at the top of the plant. The stem of the existing plant can be long and thick, with leaves covering it. You can cut at its base and get a 7,5-10 centimetres long branch to use it for propagation.
You can also get cuttings measuring 12-15 centimetres from the central part, as the ends of the stem quickly grow roots when taken from this area.
Remove the leaves and any offshoot branches from the lower end of the cuttings. This is an essential step if you want to help it grow roots.
Measure and find the right pots for your plants. Dip the tips in the rooting hormone and prepare the planting pot. There are several types that prefer water instead of soil. Make your research to provide your cuttings with the ideal conditions to help them grow faster.
If you choose a planting pot with soil, it’s essential to water the potting mix to moisten it.
Plant the cuttings in the pot and place them in a warm place. It is preferable to avoid direct light at this time. An average ambient temperature of more than 18 and less than 30 degrees Celsius would be great.
Cover the cuttings with a clear plastic bag as this helps to maintain moisture in the soil. This recommendation can help if you are not keeping the pot inside but in an open-air space.
That’s all! Just wait for new leaves to appear, which shows that the cutting has taken root and that you have a new plant.
Tips and tricks for cuttings
How would you feel about some extra tips and tricks that are going to make your gardening easier? Here’s what you need to know:
- The parent plant is the one that gives you the cuttings. That’s why you should look for a healthy garden plant. Non-woody stem plants are easier to multiply, so they are a pretty good choice. Plus, you have to make sure that the parent plant is large enough that removing one or more cuttings does not harm it.
- Select green, non-woody parts to take cuttings. Younger stems might grow roots easier than woody plant stems. Look for a branch with a knot, which is the spot on the stem where a leaf is attached. It resembles a stem joint, and it’s the place where new roots can emerge. Use scissors or an alcohol-sterilized razor blade to make a clean cut just below a knot. The cut does not need to be very long; a single knot with a few leaves will be just great.
- There are different types of cuttings, even one that is called semi-ripe cutting. Cuttings can also be taken from new growth (soft tip cuttings) or old wood (wood cuttings).
- To make sure you succeed, choose carefully the tools, but also the pots and propagation mixing. Put the stem cuttings in a pot filled with a well-drained spread medium, which can be purchased at the DIY store, or a mixture of coconut peat and sand.
- Before planting, soak the base of the cuttings in a rooting hormone to increase your chances of getting better results.
- Use a planter – like a baguette – to make a hole in the mixture to insert the cuttings. It reduces the damage to the base of the stems.
- Push the cuttings into the mixture, so there are several knots in the soil. You can put several cuttings in a jar or pot. Water your cuttings.
- Provide a moist growing medium; to keep the soil’s moisture for longer, you can use a plastic bag, like a mini greenhouse. I f you have too many plants you can even use a real greenhouse to make the growing season an all-year-round pastime!
- To keep them healthier offer them plant food and water them the right way.
- Like we mentioned before, it’s essential to avoid direct sunlight.
- Check cuttings regularly and remove diseased leaves. Water regularly, especially if it’s hot.
- Don’t forget to add a label with the plant’s name and the date you planted it to keep track.
What are the best five plants to start with?
There is no doubt here; some plants are easier to grow from cuttings compared to others! So, if you don’t want to be disappointed right from the start, these are the ones that you should go for!
You don’t need particular potting soil for plant propagation when it comes to this aromatic herb. This type of plant is so easy to grow from cuttings, whatever time of year might be (provided you grow them in a pot). The new cutting can be placed in a soilless pot – just add some water at room temperature, and soon you’ll see some root growth. The only thing you need to remember is that you need green stems to develop a root system fast.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the beauty of the Begonia. So, it’s no surprise that many people want to grow them from cuttings. All you need is cuttings no longer than an inch. Press them gently into a pot with moist soil and make sure they get enough light but are not in direct sunlight. After new roots develop, you can move the pots.
You might want to grow basil from cuttings as it has a lovely smell and plenty of uses in the kitchen! And also because it can easily grow roots in water. Just make sure the basil hasn’t got flowers when you get the cuttings.
Since we’ve mentioned regrowing rosemary from cuttings, it would be a shame not to discuss thyme too. This aromatic herb can elevate any steak to a work of art, so you’ll appreciate having fresh thyme all the time! You can use the exact cutting and planting method as in the case of rosemary. You could even plant them in the same pot for diversity and variety!
Lavender is a feast for the eyes, but not only! It is often used in aromatherapy for relaxation purposes. And it’s effortless to grow from cuttings. If you got your hands on lavender cuttings, all you have to do is put them in water or directly in the soil. It can take more than a month for new roots to develop when outdoors, but your patience will be rewarded!
Aftercare of plant cuttings
The aftercare of your plant cuttings depends on the plant you are trying to propagate. In many cases, all you have to do after planting the cuttings is to treat them regularly with water and occasionally with fertiliser.
Also, keep in mind that even fresh cuttings can be affected by pests and diseases, so make sure always to check the leaves for any signs of damage. Once the cuttings develop roots and plant them in soil, the risk of losing the plant is decreased, so you can relax and just enjoy your work results!
Growing plants from cuttings might seem like a daunting task, not for the faint-hearted. But the reality is that all you need is a step-by-step guide (like the one provided above!), some confidence, and patience. Start small with easy-to-grow plants, and your efforts will be rewarded! You can maximise your chances by getting and planting more than just one cutting. Try with 4 or 5 cuttings from the same plant if you are a beginner. Good luck!