Plant Cuttings Guide – Plant Propagation Techniques

Plant Propagation Techniques


Raising your own new plants from existing stock is an inexpensive or even free source of young, healthy plants. The supply is potentially infinite, as each year’s growth provides new material for propagation. You know just what you will get, since vegetative propagation from cuttings, division or layering produces plants identical to the parent.

No special equipment is needed, only simple techniques and the right timing And success brings a sense of achievement, as you provide enough stock to fill your own garden, give to friends and charity events, and exchange for other plants at local garden clubs.

Simple gardening tips to help you take your plant cuttings and get perfect results every time:


Tip Cuttings

  1. Snip off non-flowering side-shoots from perennial plants at any time during the summer. Each cutting should be 7.510cm (3-4in) in length and be free from all pests and diseases.
  2. Trim each cutting straight across the stem, just below a leaf node — the point at which one or more leaf stalks join the main stem — then pull off or cut away the lowest pair of leaves.
  3. Using a pencil, make planting holes in a 10cm (4in) pot containing a suitable cuttings compost. Insert the cuttings, firm in with your fingers and water gently from overhead.
  4. Criss-cross two galvanized wire hoops to make a framework, and cover with a polythene bag. Make a few small breathing holes in the polythene and secure it with a rubber band.
  5. After four to six weeks, remove the polythene and check for rooting —cuttings should not yield to a gentle tug. Plant each rooted cutting in a 7.5cm (3in) pot of potting compost.
  6. Pinch out the tip of each cutting about one week after potting individually to encourage side-branching and the formation of a strong root system. Overwinter in a cold frame.




Semi-Hardwood Heel Cuttings

  1. Most shrubs root more easily if taken with a heel — a sliver of wood from the main stem. Begin by making a slanting cut into the main stem below the join with the side-shoot.
  2. Next, make a similar cut in the opposite direction to remove the side-shoot complete with the heel. A very sharp, clean knife is essential for this operation.
  3. Remove the leaves from the lowest part of the stem, and also trim off the terminal soft tip just above a leaf joint. The final cutting should be about 5-10cm (2-4in) in length.
  4. Insert the cuttings in pots of cuttings compost and provide them with a warm, humid atmosphere by covering with a polythene bag or putting them in a special propagator.


Root Cuttings

  1. Lift the entire plant, or expose a section of the plant’s root system. With secateurs, cut off a thick root close to the main stem, or close to a larger main root.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut pieces of root about 4cm (11/2in) long — slightly longer if the roots are thin — cutting straight across at the top, but at an angle across the bottom.
  3. Plant the root pieces in pots of cuttings compost so that the tops are flush with the surface. Ensure that the angled cut ends point downwards. Cover with a thin layer of sand.
  4. Six months later, move the developing plants into individual 9cm (3-1/2in) pots of John Innes No.1 potting compost. Firm the compost well and water in generously.


Hardwood Cuttings of Deciduous Shrubs

  1. In mid autumn, choose a vigorous stem of the current year’s growth — it should be hard and woody, and bear small, dormant buds all along its length. Using secateurs, cut the stem cleanly near its base.
  2. Using a sharp knife, trim the stem to 25-30cm (10-12in) long, cutting cleanly just below a bud or joint at the base and just above a bud at the top. Cut away from your fingers or lay the cutting on a bench when trimming.
  3. To aid rooting, slice off a thin sliver of bark and wood from near the base of each cuffing, either on one side or opposite sides. A rooting compound may also assist rooting.
  4. Plant the cuttings to at least half their length in a V-shaped trench in open ground in a site sheltered from north and east winds. A layer of sand in the bottom aids drainage.
  5. A year or two later, healthy shoots should have developed and the rooted cuttings are then ready for transplanting into their permanent positions in the garden.


Leaf-Bud Cuttings

  1. The method of making a leaf-bud cutting is much the same as for a heel cutting. Each cutting of a camellia should contain one tiny bud, one leaf and a sliver of wood.
  2. Insert cuttings so that only the leaf shows on the surface. Leaf-bud cuttings of other shrubs usually include a short length of stem, rather than just a sliver of wood.


Hardwood Cuttings of Evergreens

  1. Make hardwood cuttings of evergreen shrubs, such as privet (Ligustrum), by severing just below a leaf node. Strip off most of the lowest leaves, leaving no more than six.
  2. Insert the cuttings in the open ground in a V-shaped trench with a layer of sand at the bottom to assist drainage. Such cuttings will take about a year to root successfully.

25. November 2010 by admin
Categories: Garden Management, Propagating Plants | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Plant Cuttings Guide – Plant Propagation Techniques


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