How to Plant Live Cuttings From Shrubs


There are several ways to propagate a shrub. You can harvest seed pods and plant the seeds, or you can take a cutting and root it. Cuttings are the best way to propagate hybrid shrubs, since seeds rarely reproduce true-to-type. A cutting is simple to root if done correctly. If you have a green house, you can propagate a cutting at any time. However, some plants respond better to cuttings taken during certain times of the year.

Step 1

Wait until early summer to take cuttings. Most cuttings respond better when taken from new growth near the ends of the plant's shoots. This is known as a softwood cutting. Softwood cuttings are the best method for propagating shrubs through cuttings.

Step 2

Select a branch from the top part of the shrub that is neither too vigorous nor too spindly. Move your pruning shears approximately 12 inches back from the tip of the branch. Cut the branch just below the point where a leaf emerges (the leaf node).

Step 3

Section the branch into 6-inch sections, cutting just below a node. Discard the tip of the branch.

Step 4

Strip the leaves off the lower half of the cuttings. Dip the ends in rooting powder.

Step 5

Fill a potting tray with sterile peat moss, and mist until damp.

Step 6

Insert the end of the cutting into the peat moss so that the cutting is half submerged.

Step 7

Mist the plant and cover with plastic to keep moist. Place under a plant grow light, or in a sunny windowsill.

Step 8

Check plants daily and mist to keep moist.

Step 9

Transplant cuttings into pots with potting soil when roots of plants are 1 inch long. To do this, place potting soil into a pot. Create a hole in the middle of the soil. Remove plant and peat moss from potting tray and place in the air pocket created in the soil. Pat soil around the roots, and water.

Step 10

Plant the shrubs outdoors when they reach the desired size for transplant. To do this, select a spot in the ground that has ideal soil and light conditions for your shrub. Dig a hole that is larger than the root ball. Gently remove root ball from pot by laying pot on its side. Support the stem of your shrub, and gently tap the pot to release the root ball. Place the root ball in the planting hole. Cover with dirt, and water.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears
  • Rooting powder
  • Peat moss
  • Planting tray
  • Plastic wrap
  • Plant misting bottle
  • Grow lamp
  • Pot
  • Potting soil


  • NC State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
  • Taking of Plant Cuttings Used to Propagate New Plants
  • Purdue University Consumer Horticulture: New Plants from Cuttings

Who Can Help

  • Growing Garden and Landscape Plants from Cuttings at Home
Keywords: propagating shrubs, stem cuttings, rooting plants

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.