How to Plant Native Plant Cuttings


Invasive species often occur when a plant is introduced into a nonnative environment. One good example of this is kudzu. The plant was introduced to the United States from Asia in 1976. Since then it has gained a reputation as '‘the vine that ate the south,’' due to its invasive nature. One way to prevent invasive species from gaining a foothold in your landscape is to plant only plants that are native to your area. One of the simplest methods of propagating native plants is to start them from cuttings taken from other plant natives.

Step 1

Take an inventory of your landscape to determine the conditions that are present for your plants to grow in. Some characteristics that you should be familiar with include the soil’s texture and drainage, USDA hardiness zone, light availability and proximity to water. Knowing your landscape qualities helps you to choose native plants that thrive in your landscape. For example, plants such as Dutchman’s breeches and buttercup are U.S. native plants. Dutchman’s breeches prefers shady areas, while buttercup should be planted in full sun.

Step 2

Learn about native plants and their characteristics so that you can choose plants with desirable characteristics for your landscape. Some native plants, such as bloodroot, may be toxic if eaten by wildlife or livestock. Trees such as willow are softwood trees that may only last for roughly 50 years. Characteristics to note include a plant’s appearance, growth habit, mature plant sizes, toxicity, sun, soil and water requirements. Organizations such as the North American Native Plant Society, publications such as native plant field guides or your local county extension service can provide you with lists of native plants for your area and their qualities.

Step 3

Obtain cuttings through native plant nurseries that sell them or by collecting cuttings yourself from wild-growing plants or from domesticated plants in a native garden. Always obtain permission before taking a cutting. If you wish to take a cutting from a plant growing wild, you may need a permit. State and national laws prohibit removing material from national forests without a permit.

Step 4

Collect cuttings by selecting 6 inches of new plant growth from a plant. Take a cutting just behind the point where a leaf or blossom emerges, which is called a node. Place the cutting into a plastic bag filled with 1 tbsp. of water to prevent the cutting from drying out.

Step 5

Remove all leaves from the lower two-thirds of the cutting. Remove all buds from the cutting so the plant will put energy into root development instead of bud development. Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone.

Step 6

Fill a 6-inch container with potting soil and wet the soil so it is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Insert the cutting halfway into the container. Cover with a plastic bag and place it in a sunny windowsill so the cutting is out of direct sunlight.

Step 7

Remove the plastic bag once the cutting sprouts roots. Continue to grow the cutting indoors until spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Move the cutting outdoors into the shade during daylight hours for three consecutive days. Then dig a planting hole in the ground for your cutting. Place the cutting’s root ball into the hole and cover with soil. The cutting will develop extensive roots through spring and summer, which will help protect it over the winter months.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Plastic bag
  • Potting soil
  • 6-inch container
  • Rooting hormone
  • Shovel


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Kudzu in Alabama
  • NC State Universtiy: Rooting for You
  • Washington State Universtiy Extension: Native Plants

Who Can Help

  • North American Native Plant Society
Keywords: native landscaping, growing cuttings, North American plants

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."