How to Do Plant Cuttings

Overview

Propagating plants from cuttings can fill your garden quickly, and save money at the same time. It is not difficult to grow new plants from cuttings, if you know a few simple strategies. The key to successful propagation from cuttings is to know what type of cutting to do and when to do it. There are several types of plant cuttings: softwood and semi-hardwood, hardwood, leaf and root cuttings. The timing varies for each type and each should be handled a little differently.

Softwood or Semi-Hardwood Cuttings

Step 1

Softwood cuttings are the easiest and usually have the best success rate. Softwood cuttings are taken from plants that have finished growth for the season but are not yet mature. It is best to take softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings from spring to late summer. Cuttings should be taken from soft, new growth, rather than mature stems with buds on them. The growth hormones are geared toward upward growth, so take cuttings from the lower stems, because you want more hormones that will encourage root growth. Cut four to six inch pieces, just below leaf junctions. Make clean, diagonal cuts. Stems should never be broken off. Jagged, rough breaks make stems susceptible to disease.

Step 2

Make individual holes or trenches in the rooting medium. Position cuttings 1 to 2 inches deep, so that the rooting medium is firmly packed around the stem.

Step 3

Place cuttings into well-drained growing medium and place in a lighted area where cuttings will still get adequate shade. For best results, increase humidity through a greenhouse type atmosphere, by enclosing cuttings in glass or plastic and misting frequently.

Hardwood Cuttings

Step 1

Make hardwood cuttings from fall to spring, after there have been a few frosts or cut from the previous season's growth during the hardwood's dormant season. Make the top cut diagonal and the lower cut straight to indicate the end to be planted.

Step 2

Bury stems lengthwise in a sand or peat-moss filled box and store at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Dig growths up from the box and plant directly into the soil as the weather begins to warm in the spring.

Root Cuttings

Step 1

Plants that produce sprouts from their roots can be propagated from root cuttings, which are usually taken in the fall. Cut 2 to 4-inch pieces about as thick as a pencil or a finger from the mother plant's root and place into soil in flats or pots.

Step 2

Root cuttings can be placed sideways or upright and covered with growing medium, so the tops are just below that surface. Growing mediums should be well drained. Pure sand will work, but a better choice is half sand and half peat moss or perlite, or pure perlite or vermiculite.

Step 3

Keep root cuttings moist. Cover them with plastic and place them in the shade.

Leaf Cuttings

Step 1

Succulents and plants with veined leaves can be propagated from the leaf.

Step 2

Cut the veins and lay the leaf flat on the rooting medium or place the stem of the leaf upright. Flat leaves may need to be pinned down until new growth sprouts.

Step 3

Place a plastic bag placed around the pot or flat to provide needed humidity until roots have become well established.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife, small, sharp
  • Pots or flats
  • Plant-growing medium
  • Plastic or glass cover

References

  • The Experts Book of Garden Hints; Bradley, Fern Marshall, ed.; 1993
  • 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 20 Experts; Majorie J. Dietz, ed.; 1982
  • Sunset Western Garden Book; Sunset Publishing; 1998
Keywords: Plant Propagation, Plant Cuttings, Hardwood Cuttings, Leaf Cuttings, Root Cuttings

About this Author

Kaye Lynne Booth has been writing for 13 years. She is currently working on a children's, series and has short stories and poetry published on authspot.com; Quazen.com; Stastic Motion Online. She is a contributing writer for eHow.com, Gardener Guidlines, Today.com and Examiner.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in Computer Science from Adam’s State College