How to Take a Softwood Cutting

Propagating plants is a good way to increase garden production. image by Public Domain

Softwood cuttings are cuttings of the current season's growth, taken from early spring through midsummer. Generally, they are soft, immature tissue, green from tip to base and, as such, wilt quickly after cutting. If propagating by this method, use speed and care when collecting specimens.


Step 1

Collect the cuttings in a closed plastic bag, kept away from sunlight. From the parent plant, cut a young, vigorous side shoot approximately 4 inches long, trimming it straight across, just below a leaf joint.

Step 2

Gently remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Coat the end of the cutting with hormone rooting powder.

Step 3

Make a hole in the cutting's compost with a pencil and insert the cutting, pressing it in gently with the pencil and ensuring that there are no air pockets around it.

Step 4

Prepare the cuttings as soon as possible after collection for the best chance of success. Some softwood cuttings root readily in water, while others need to be put into compost. Research the particular requirements of the plant you are propagating. Some will need the heat from beneath, provided by a propagator or heated mat, for rooting. Some may be placed in a cold frame. As when germinating seeds, keep the cuttings in a well-lit but not directly sunny position.

Step 5

Gently water the cutting and cover with a clear plastic bag suspended above the plant on canes or wires so that it does not touch the foliage and cause it to rot.

Step 6

Inspect the cuttings often. Once you have planted the cuttings, check the pot or propagator on alternate days to see if water is needed. Most softwood cuttings will begin to root between 6 and 8 weeks. When new growth appears, the plant may be gradually hardened off, and it is then ready for transplanting.

Tips and Warnings

Always were protective gear when making plant cuttings.

Things You'll Need

Pruning shears, Root growth hormone, Planting containers

About this Author

Richard Sweeney is a former educator and now freelance writer living on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He has been writing since 1995 publishing articles in national publications such as "Men's Outlook Journal" and "Travel". Sweeney left the education profession in 2007 but likes to remain knowledgeable about current policies and teaching techniques.

Photo by: Public Domain