How to Take Cuttings From Plants


The most important thing to consider when taking a cutting from woody plants is stage of growth. There are generally four categories of growth stages for stem cuttings: herbaceous, softwood, semi-hardwood and hardwood. These terms refer to the stage of growth of a plant's new growth. Different plants are best propagated during different stages of growth. Refer to the Resources section to find the optimal time to take cuttings from your plant before you proceed.

Step 1

Sterilize your sharp bypass pruning shears by rubbing the blades down with alcohol.

Step 2

Choose a healthy terminal shoot to prune that is at the right stage of growth. Try to avoid pruning stems with flower buds on them (if unavoidable, these must be removed before rooting).

Step 3

Cut the top 4 to 6 inches off the terminal end of a stem at a 45-degree angle. If you want to make several cuttings from one stem, you can prune a longer section of stem and cut it into 4- to 6-inch sections. But be sure to keep track of which is the bottom end of the cutting and which is the top. You will need to root the cuttings right side up.

Step 4

Deposit the cutting into a plastic bag lined with wet paper towels. Root the cutting immediately if possible. If not, store the plastic bag in your refrigerator.

Step 5

Use your pruning shears to remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. If the plant has large leaves, cut each of them in half widthwise to help the plant conserve water.

Things You'll Need

  • Bypass pruning shears
  • Alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bag


  • North Carolina State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
  • World Journal of Agricultural Sciences: Variability in Propagation Potentials of Stem Cuttings

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: Optimum Stage for Taking Cuttings
Keywords: plant cutting, stem cutting, take cuttings

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.