How to Store Plant Cuttings
Plant cuttings from hardwood plants often need to be stored because they are taken when the plant is dormant in January or February and will be grafted or rooted as the weather begins to warm in the spring. Softwood plant cuttings are taken in warmer weather when the plants are actively growing, so they can be stored for a few days with the cut end immersed in water. Hardwood cuttings can be stored for up to six weeks in temperatures of 33 to 40 degrees F. Avoid freezing hardwood cuttings.
Cut all hardwood cuttings of the same type to a uniform size, for example 6 inches, and make a mark with a permanent marker where the top and bottom of the cutting should be on the side of the cutting, not on the cut end. Let the ink dry and immediately put cuttings in a container where they are completely immersed in clean water for 24 hours.
Remove cuttings from water and bundle them in groups of no more than 10 cuttings, with the tops pointing in the same direction. Tie the bundle with string.
Wrap bundles in wet newspaper or paper towels and place in plastic bags.
Store in the crisper section of a refrigerator because the humidity level should be higher there. If the refrigerator has a humidity control, set it to maximum.
Check cuttings for mildew or rot every 3 or 4 days and discard any cuttings that no longer look fresh. Rewrap and store bundles back in the refrigerator as soon as possible.
Make Successful Plant Cuttings
Examine the plants you want to propagate, looking for healthy ones with no dead leaves, yellowing, mold, insect damage or other signs of stress. Fully hydrated plants produce more successful cuttings. The roots grow from this point. Cut 6 to 20 inches from the tip of last season's growth from trees and some shrubs while they are dormant in the winter using sterilized pruners. A suitable branch for cutting is 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Put cuttings in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel, if you are taking multiple cuttings, to keep the stems as moist as possible until you prepare and pot them. Fill small pots or a potting tray with sterile potting mix. When the remaining leaves are large, cut them in half to help the plants retain moisture, while still retaining some green for photosynthesis. Pour a small amount of rooting compound into a disposable cup. Poke a hole in the soilless mix with a pencil and immediately place the end of the cutting in the hole up to the remaining leaves.
- Paper towels or newspaper
- Plastic bag
- Refrigerator with vegetable crisper
- Permanent ink marker
- Plant Propagation by Leaf, Cane, and Root Cuttings
- How To Store and Handle Hardwood Cuttings
- University of California Yolo County Extension: General Information on Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
- The Herb Society of America: How to Take Herb Cuttings
- Fine Gardening: Save Money and Grow More Plants With Tip Cuttings
- Washington State University Extension: Sterilized Pruning Tools: Nuisance or Necessity?
- University of California San Luis Obispo Master Gardeners: Plant Propagation
- Purdue University Consumer Horticulture: New Plants From Cuttings