How to Start Cuttings in Vermiculite


Propagating plants from stem cuttings provides a clone of the original plant without the long wait for harvesting and germinating seeds. Although stem cuttings from many plants root easily in ordinary potting soil or in a glass of water, vermiculite creates a sterile growing medium that drains well and provides excellent aeration for young roots. Starting cuttings in vermiculite instead of potting soil reduces the risk of overwatering and the associated problems with wet, soggy soil.

Step 1

Fill seed-starting tray or pots with vermiculite, up to within ½ to ¼ inch from the top.

Step 2

Choose a healthy, vigorous stem for your cutting. Check for signs of insect damage or disease. Cut a 4- to 6-inch section ¼ inch below a leaf node (the area where a leaf grows on the stem). This area contains growth agents and promotes new root formation.

Step 3

Remove foliage from the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stem, leaving two or three leaves on the terminal end.

Step 4

Pour rooting hormone into a disposable cup (to prevent contaminating the bottle) and dip the bottom inch of the stem into the hormone. Tap against the side of the cup to remove excess rooting hormone.

Step 5

Make an indentation in the vermiculite with a pencil or dowel and insert the stem cutting so that the area covered with rooting hormone is below the surface of the growing media. Firm the vermiculite around the stem of the cutting to secure in place.

Step 6

Water to moisten the vermiculite and place in an area that receives indirect light.

Step 7

Check for root formation after 10 to 14 days by gently tugging on the cutting. If it resists your efforts, roots have formed. Once established, pot in growing media designed for your specific plant and place in the appropriate lighting.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed-starting trays
  • Vermiculite
  • Clippers/knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Pencil/dowel


  • University of Missouri Extension: Home Propagation of Garden and Landscape Plants
  • Ohio State University Extension: Plant Propagation
  • UC Davis: Plant Propagation

Who Can Help

  • AgriLife Extension: House Plants
  • NDSU Extension: Home Propagation Techniques
Keywords: start stem cuttings, root stem cuttings, using vermiculite, root in vermiculite

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.