How to Make Root Cuttings


Leaf, cane or root cuttings taken from a parent plant and properly nurtured are ways to propagate new plants. Not all cutting methods are suitable for all plants. Depending on the species, the new root system may develop on the cutting before or after new shoots appear. When taking a root cutting from a woody plant, schedule the cutting for the plant's dormant season. Some plants able to propagate from root cuttings include the blackberry, rose, phlox, crabapple, lilac, fig, sumac, raspberry and trumpet vine.

Step 1

Wipe down the knife blade with rubbing alcohol between each cut. This will help reduce fungal and bacterial infections.

Step 2

Expose the root carefully by minimal digging with a hand gardening spade, so as not to damage or injure the plant. Seek a root that is between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter.

Step 3

Slice off a piece of root, beginning near the crown of the parent plant, and make a slanted cut. The piece should be at least 2 inches long.

Step 4

Cut the root piece into sections, between 2 to 6 inches long. Pay attention to which end of the root was initially pointing downward and which end pointed upward. When planting, maintain this direction.

Step 5

Tie the root cuttings in a bundle, keeping all the ends that originally pointed down on one end.

Step 6

Store the roots in a box filled with sand or peat moss and keep at 40 degrees F. Cover the roots with the sand or peat moss. After three weeks, the root cuttings will be ready to plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Taking root cuttings can harm the parent plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening spade
  • Garden knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towel
  • String or twine
  • Box
  • Sand or peat moss


  • Washington State University: Gardening in Western Washington
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Plant Propagation by Leaf, Cane, and Root Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
Keywords: root cuttings, taking root cuttings, propagation by root cuttings

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.