Plant cuttings in the south require monitoring to keep the cuttings from drying out and dying. The heat of the sun wilts many cuttings before they have a chance to root. Proper maintenance keeps plant cuttings safe and healthy until the cuttings set root and grow into an exact duplicate of the host plant.
Preparing the Growing Tray
Add warm water to the potting soil to create a moist bed for the plant cuttings. The moisture in the soil should provide enough water for the cuttings to produce a healthy root system. Only wet the soil and avoid saturating it because if the soil is too wet, the cuttings will rot before setting roots.
Fill the growing tray with the potting soil and remove any air pockets by tamping the soil down with your hands. The air pockets contain bacteria which spread disease and mold. Both of these kills plant cuttings.
Create holes in the soil for the plant cuttings. The pre-formed holes ensure the rooting compound stays on the stem of the plant cuttings instead of rubbing it off on the surface of the soil.
Preparing the Plant Cuttings
Clip 4- to 6-inch stem cuttings from a healthy host plant. Avoid wilted or deformed leaves on the cuttings. Make clean cuts to avoid damage to the host plant and the plant cuttings. Take the cuttings from below the root nodes so there is at least one leaf node on the stem cutting. The leaf node is where the leaves connect to the stem.
Remove all but the top two leaves on the cutting. Grip the stem cutting at the top and run the stem between your thumb and forefinger to remove the lower leaves. With the lower leaves removed, the plant cutting concentrates on regrowing a root system and not feeding the leaves.
Trim back the top two leaves, if necessary, so they are only two to three inches long. Cut the outside edge of the leaves with the scissors in the same shape as the leaves grow.
Planting the Cuttings
Pour 2- to 3-tbsp. of rooting compound from the original container into a baggie or small tray. This keeps contaminates from spreading to the rest of the rooting compound. Dip the bottom two inches of the stem cuttings into the rooting compound and shake off the excess.
Stick the plant cuttings into the pre-formed holes of the growing tray and tamp down the soil around the cuttings. Stick wooden skewers into the growing tray so they are slightly higher than the cuttings. Cover the entire growing tray with clear plastic and secure into place with a rubber band.
Place the growing tray in a warm place with bright light. Avoid direct sunlight to avoid killing the plant cuttings. Monitor the growing tray daily to maintain the moisture of the environment. Remove any plant cuttings which die or develop mold.
Watch for new growth after two weeks in the cuttings as this generally represents root development. Remove the plastic and give the cuttings a slight tug. Resistance means roots have developed. From this point, keep the plastic off the growing tray.
Acclimate the new plants to the outdoors and bright sunlight by setting them outside for an hour. Each day, extend the time outdoors until they are able to withstand the temperatures and sunlight for a full day. Monitor water levels closely during this time. Transplant the cuttings into the flower beds or planters when the new plants are outside full time.
About this Author
JulieAnn is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for 30 years. Recently JulieAnn has written a variety of e-books and numerous articles on gardening, small business, and farming. JulieAnn is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her Bachelor's degree in English.