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How to Root Plant Cuttings

By Kaye Lynne Booth ; Updated September 21, 2017

You can root plant cuttings in water or in growing mediums. Both are easy to do and will work with most plants. Another method that is especially successful with roses and other softwoods is to plant directly into the soil.

Rooting Plant Cuttings in Water

Take cuttings and place them in a vase or other container filled with water. This method works best with softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Cut willow twigs into small pieces and add them to the water. Willow naturally contains indolebutyric acid (IBA), the same root-growth hormone found in rooting compounds. Adding willow to the water will encourage root growth.

Place the container in a bright spot (but not direct sunlight), and watch for roots to appear. Transplant into a pot when the roots are 1 to 2 inches long.

Rooting Plant Cuttings in Growing Medium

Fill a pot with a growing medium. The growing medium can be just sharp sand, but gardening author Marjorie Dietz recommends using half sand and half peat moss, sphagnum moss, perlite or vermiculite. The important part is that the medium drains well. Soft or semihardwoods also can be rooted with this method.

Take cuttings and dip them into rooting compound before placing them in the pot. Using a powdered rooting hormone is optional, but cuttings have a greater success rate when it is used. You can achieve similar results by soaking your cutting in willow water 24 hours before placing them in the growing medium. Make this by placing small pieces of willow twigs in water.

Place the stem of the cutting in the pot or flat so that the medium is firmly packed against the base of the planting end. Firm the soil so that any air pockets are removed.

Keep growing medium moist by covering in plastic or glass and giving frequent misting until roots are established. Flats should be covered with plastic.

Rooting Plant Cuttings Directly In Soil

Select an area that will receive indirect sunlight. Rooting cuttings directly in the soil works best with rose and other softwood cuttings.

Establish roots more quickly by using a rooting compound or soaking in willow water before planting.

Make a hole directly in the soil and place your cutting in it.

Pack soil firmly around the cutting, and cover with a glass jar. Keep the soil moist until the plant is well established. If the temperature gets too warm and lots of condensation forms in the jar, prop the jar open for a few hours.

Remove the jar once roots are established.


Things You Will Need

  • Pots or flats
  • Willow sticks
  • Growing medium
  • Plastic bags or glass jars

About the 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; Static 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 Adams State College.