How to Propagate Shrubbery


Shrubs are propagated to create additional plants by taking softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings from current year plant growth. All three cutting types are propagated using the same steps and treatment to produce roots. Softwood cuttings are soft, flexible stem portions taken from ornamental shrubs in late spring through early summer. Semi-hardwood cuttings are stem sections that are beginning to mature and harden taken from evergreen shrubs in mid-summer through early fall. Hardwood cuttings are stem sections that have hardened and are taken from woody deciduous shrubs in the winter months when the plant is dormant.

Step 1

Cut four- to eight-inch stem sections with a sharp knife from current year growth. Current year growth is found in the upper area of the plant or at end of stems. Make a straight, clean cut and place the stem in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel to prevent drying while collecting stem cuttings.

Step 2

Remove all leaves and buds from the lower half of the cutting. Cut large leaves on the top of the stem in half to reduce moisture loss in the stem.

Step 3

Create a rooting medium by mixing even portions of coarse sand, sterile peat moss and perlite. Dampen the medium with water and add the medium to a rooting tray.

Step 4

Pour a small amount of rooting hormone onto a piece of clean waxed paper and dip the cut end of the stem into the powder. Gently tap the stem to remove excess rooting hormone.

Step 5

Stick the cutting into the rooting tray at a depth of one-third the length of the stem. Space the cuttings so the leaves do not touch. Mist the medium and cuttings with water and cover with a plastic bag to hold moisture and humidity around the cuttings.

Step 6

Place the rooting tray in a warm location that has indirect sunlight. The top of a refrigerator is an appropriate location or set the tray on a heating mat to provide bottom warmth. Open the covering several times a week to freshen the air and monitor the moisture level. Mist the medium with water if needed.

Step 7

Pull lightly on the cuttings after four weeks of growth to see if there is resistance due to root growth. The time period for root development will vary based on the plant variety and type of cutting taken.

Step 8

Transplant the cuttings to individual containers filled with a well-draining sterile potting soil once the roots reach a length of one inch. Continue to grow the cuttings indoors for the first growing season.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Plastic bag
  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Coarse sand
  • Sterile peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Rooting tray
  • Rooting hormone
  • Waxed paper
  • Water mister
  • Plastic bag
  • Warming mat
  • 4-inch potting containers
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Bleach


  • North Carolina State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
  • Washington State University: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs
  • University of Florida: Propagation of Woody Ornamentals by Cuttings
Keywords: propagate shrubs, shrub stem cuttings, plant shrub cuttings

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.