Learning how to grow cuttings is a simple process that yields wonderful benefits. You can double the number of plants, whether it be house plants or outdoor varieties with little time or effort. A bottle of rooting compound, some healthy cuttings and a quality soil will produce a multitude of lush, healthy greenery for home or garden.
Fill the garden tray with the planting medium. Any quality potting soil will work as long as it does not contain rocks, sticks or other debris. Avoid soil that feels sticky or forms a solid mass when you squeeze it between your hands. This type of soil contains a lot of clay and will not allow the roots to expand properly when you try to grow the cuttings.
Stick the pencil or straw into the soil to make uniform holes throughout the growing tray. These pre-fabricated holes allow the rooting compound to remain on the clippings instead of getting wiped off at the soil line when inserting them into the growing tray.
Pour the powdered rooting compound, if you are using this type, into a small container or paper plate. The liquid rooting compound is a concentrate that can be diluted to the strength you need. A 50-percent solution is good to grow softwood cuttings. For hardwood cuttings, use the liquid at full strength. Make certain to use a separate container for the rooting compound to avoid contaminating the entire bottle, thereby contaminating future cuttings you may grow.
Clip 5- to 6-inch cuttings from any of the plants you want to propagate. The cuttings should come from healthy plants that show no signs of pests or disease. The cuttings should also be from new growth either early in the spring or at the beginning of fall. You can gather cuttings at any time, but to easily grow cuttings from the landscape plants, it is best to start with the softwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings are a little harder to grow.
Hold the top of the cutting in one hand and strip off the bottom 3 inches of leaves from the stem with one motion. Grasp the clipping at the top and slide your other hand down the stem quickly, applying a little pressure as you go down. This will remove the leaves and not damage the cutting. The remaining leaves are necessary for photosynthesis to occur so the plant can develop roots.
Dip the cuttings into the rooting compound and place them directly into the pre-formed holes in the growing tray. Gently move the soil back into place so the holes are filled back in, allowing no air to get to the bottom area of the stem. The fresh cut allows bacteria to enter the plant causing rot and decay. The cuttings will not grow or will become infested with disease.
Mist the entire planting tray thoroughly so the soil is moist. Set the tray in an area where it will not be disturbed and has filtered lighting. Direct sunlight will cause the new cuttings to wither and die. Indirect lighting is perfect to grow cuttings. As the plants become established, you can move them into a more direct light. Check the new cuttings every day and mist them as often as you can to promote the root development. In about two weeks the cuttings should start to take root. After one month, they should be hardy enough to re-pot or plant directly into the flower bed.