How to Take Plant Cuttings


Plant cuttings are an easy way to propagate plants and save money while increasing your garden. There are several types of plant cuttings: softwood and semi-hardwood, hardwood, leaf and root cuttings. For success with this technique, learn when to take the cutting; the best time to do so varies for each type of plant.

Time It Right

Step 1

Take softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings from spring to late summer. Cut four to six inch pieces, just below leaf junctions. Softwood is taken from plants that have finished growth for the season, but are not yet mature. The plant's growth hormones are geared toward upward growth, so take cuttings from the lower stems. Make clean, diagonal cuts. Stems should never be broken off. Jagged, rough breaks make stems susceptible to disease. (Bradley, pp. 22 - 24) Plant cutting in pots or flats filled with growing medium.

Step 2

Take hardwood cuttings from fall to spring, usually after there have been a few frosts, during their dormant seasons. They should be made from the previous season's growth. The top cut should be diagonal, and the lower cut should be straight, to indicate the end to be planted. (Sunset, pp. 538 - 539) Plant cuttings in pots or flats filled with growing medium.

Step 3

Take root cuttings in the fall. Plants that produce sprouts from their roots can be propagated from root cuttings. Cut two to four 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. (Bradley, p.25) Place root cuttings sideways or upright and cover with growing medium, so the tops are just below the surface. (Sunset, p. 539)

Step 4

Take leaf cuttings from evergreens all year long and from deciduous plants during the spring and summer. 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. (Sunset, p. 539)

Things You'll Need

  • Small, sharp knife
  • Pots or flats
  • Well drained growing medium


  • Bradley, Fern Marshall, ed. "The Experts Book of Garden Hints". Emmaus: Rodale Press, 1993.
  • Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, eds. "Sunset Western Garden Book". Menlo Park: Sunset Publishing Corporation, 1998.
Keywords: Propagation, Plant Cuttings, Perenials

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;; Stastic Motion Online. She is a contributing writer for, Gardener Guidlines, and She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in Computer Science from Adam’s State College