How to propagate cuttings?

Chinese Snowball Bush (Viburnum) roots but dies when potted

Not all azaleas are susceptible to deer damage, but some are like chocolate to them. Here is a list of plants which includes some varieties of azaleas that deer do not like. I live on acreage near woods so we have deer, coyotes, bob cats, beaver, eagles, etc. Check with your local extension center or talk with a Master Gardener familiar with your area for the best plants. They will provide this information for free! Here are a list of shrubs that are deer resistant. Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye): Stately specimen that forms a spreading, mounded shrub with tall, pyramidal spikes to white flowers in July. Shade tolerant. Grows to 8 to 10 ft. Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’ (Brilliant Red Chokeberry): Grows to 6 or 8 ft. in height. Has abundant white flowers in spring followed by clusters of red fruit in the fall. Foliage is lustrous green, turning brilliant red in fall. Excellent for border or massing. Betula platyphylla japonica ‘Whitespire’ (Whitespire Birch): Narrow pyramidal white-barked birch that is tolerant of high temperatures and resistant to the bronze birch borer. Grows 30 to 40 ft. Bark does not exfoliate. Buxus ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood): Evergreen shrub; upright, 5 ft. high and 3 ft. wide; exceptionally winter hardy; full sun; will not tolerate poor drainage or clay soils. Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’ (Pyramidal European Hornbeam): Deciduous tree; mature height of over 35 feet; very dense, compact, upright branching; will eventually be rounded at the base to 20 ft wide, narrrowing to a rounded point at the top; produces a small 1/4 in. green-brown nut; dark green foliage spring through summer, turning yellow and orange in fall; disease free; drought tolerant; grows easily in sun or partial shade; pH 6.0 to 7.5. Chionanthus virginicus (White Fringe Tree): Deciduous shrub or small tree; height of 15 to 20 ft. with equal spread; attractive specimen or planted in mass in the shrub border; open, rounded form with fragrant white flowers on 6 to 8 in. panicles in late spring; dark blue fruits in August and September, attractive to birds; full sun; prefers deep, moist, acidic soil but is extremely adaptable; tolerant of urban conditions. Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet) Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet): Deciduous shrub; 6 to 8 ft. height with 4 to 6 ft. spread; good for summer flowers in the shrub border; compact, dense form; upright panicles of fragrant white flowers in July and August; grows well in sun or shade; grows naturally in wet soil; salt tolerant. Cornus florida (White Flowering Dogwood): Popular tree growing to 30 ft., rounded shape with early spring flowers, striking wine-red fall foliage. Cornus kousa chinensis (Chinese Dogwood): Outstanding deciduous ornamental tree; grows to 20 ft. high and 15 to 20 ft. in width; broad vase-like shape; abundant, long lasting white blooms in June after the plant has leafed out, followed by a heavy crop of large, attractive, strawberry-like fruits loved by birds. Cotinus obovatus (American Smoketree): Intense fall colors of yellow, orange, red, and reddish-purple. Attractive gray-brown bark becomes scaly with maturity. Grows to 20 to 30 ft. Cotoneaster apiculata (Cranberry Cotoneaster): Low growing (3 ft.)shrub with stiff branching pattern. Effective as bank cover, near walls, ground cover, or as a foundation plant. Large red berries persist all winter. Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ (Winter King Hawthorn): Deciduous tree; height of 25 ft. with 20 to 25 ft. spread; ornamental tree ideally suited to the smaller landscape; good for naturalized plantings; rounded habit with vase-shaped branching structure; showy grey stems with lustrous green foliage changing to bronze, red and gold in the fall; white flowers in the spring; large bright red fruit persisting into winter; full sun, tolerant of many soils if given sufficient moisture; has sharp thorns. Diervilla lonicera (Bronzeleaf Honeysuckle): A speading shrub, excellent for mass planting and banks. Small yellow flowers bloom in June and July. Foliage turns reddish-bronze in autmn. Insect and disease resistant. Tolerates dry, sandy soils. Sun or partial shade. pH 6.0 to 7.5. Forsythia x intermediata ‘Lynwood Gold’ (Lynwood Gold Forysythia): Fast growing, erect shrub with deep golden-yellow flowers in spring. Grows to 7 feet with equal spread. Tolerant to urban conditions, sun or shade. Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla): Deciduous shrub; fragrant, white, bottlebrush-like flower spikes in spring before leaves appear; dark green summer foliage followed by good multi-colored fall foliage; plant in sun or partial shade; non-alkaline soil; hardy; excellent for foundation plantings, borders or masses. Fraxinus pennsylvanica ‘Patmore’ (Patmore Ash): Extremely hardy and tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. Erect growth habit with glossy leaves. Grows 50 to 60 ft. with a 40 to 50 ft. spread. Seedless variety. Gleditsia (Honeylocust): Useful as street or shade tree. Most varieties grow 35 to 45 ft. Hamamelis vernalis (Vernal Witch Hazel): Deciduous shrub; grows 10 ft. in height with equal spread; flowers are yellow to red and begin blooming in February; can be used as specimens, screens and/or hedges; will grow in sun or shade; prefers soil with plenty of organic matter and moisture; pH 6.0 to 7.5. Ilex verticillata (Winterberry): Deciduous holly; 6 to 8 ft. spread; excellent effect in mass plantings or shrub borders; bright red fruits persist as long as not eaten by birds. Native to swampy places, but does well in light to medium moist loam. Both sexes needed for pollination. Sun or partial shade. Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire): Small, erect-branched shrub produces fragrant upright flower racemes in June and July. Foliage turns scarlet and crimson in the fall. Sun or partial shade. pH 5.0 to 7.0. Juniperus chinensis ‘Hooks’ (Hook’s Juniper): Evergreen shrub; height of 12-15 ft. with a spread of 2-3 ft; good for specimen or narrow hedge; upright pyramidal shape; green foliage requires little or no shearing to maintain form; prefers average soils in sunny locations. Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea Green’ (Sea Green Juniper): Evergreen shrub; height of 3 ft. with a spread of 5 to 6 ft; excellent mint-green foliage with arching branches create a low, fountainlike effect. Moist soils are acceptable as long as they are well drained. Optimum growth occurs in sun with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Kerria Japonica (Japanese Kerria) Kerria Japonica (Japanese Kerria): Grows 4 to 5 ft. Single, golden-yellow flowers in spring. Bright green stems all year. Tolerates shade well. Ligustrum obtusifolium regelianum (Regal Privet): Low, dense spreading shrub with a rounded shape. Grows 5 to 6 ft. Has a white flower and a black berry-type fruit. Valuable for growing in poor conditions but prefers dryers sites. Can tolerate severe pruning. Sun or partial shade, pH 6.0 to 7.5. Lindear benzoin (Spice Bush): Dense growing native shrub with small yellow flowers in April, followed by glossy red frutis. Foliage and twigs have a spicy fragrance. Sun or shade, pH 6.0 to 7.5. Liquidambar styaciflua (Sweet Gum): Large conical shaded tree, growing to 60 ft. Star-shaped foliage turns brilliant fall colors. Has corky bark. Lonicera fragrantissma (Winter Honeysuckle): Semi-evergreen shrub with rounded leaves growing 6 to 8 feet in height with equal spread. Highly fragrant white flowers in April. Lonicera xylosteum ‘Emerald Mound’ (Emerald Mound Honeysuckle): Deciduous shrub; 3 to 4 ft. in height with similar spread; effective in massed plantings or as a low hedge; compact, mounded form with dense, attractive bluish-green foliage; yellowish-white flowers in the spring with dark red berries in July and August; resistant to Honeysuckle aphid; sun or partial shade; prefers good, loamy, moist, well-drained soil but will adapt to many types. Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ (Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle): Considered the hardiest honeysuckle vine. Bright orange-scarlet tubular flowers from June to October. Magnolia x ‘Betty’ (Betty Magnolia): Deciduous shrub or small tree; 10 ft. height with 8 ft. spread; attractive accent for the smaller landscape or garden; upright, rounded form; large purple-red flowers with white interior open prior to the glossy green foliage; sun or partial shade; prefers loamy, moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Magnolia x ‘Susan (Susan Magnolia): Compact, upright shrub or small tree; 8 to 10 ft. in height with an 8 ft. spread. Long slender red-purple buds open to 5 in. wide flowers in late spring. Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ (Leonard Messel Magnolia): Shrub or small tree grows 20 to 25 ft., showy 12 petaled flowers are fuchsia pink on the back and white on the inside with a purple-pink line in the center. Myrica Pensylvanica: (Northern Bayberry): Upright, rounded shrub with decorative gray berries (on female only) well into winter. Prefers well drained, sun or partial shade, pH 5.0 to 6.5. Foliage turns deep red in the fall. Nyssa sylvatica (Black or Sour Gum): Pyramidal tree growing to 50 ft. with a 20 to 30 ft. spread. Glossy, leathery leaves that turn intense shades of orange and red in fall. Sun or partial shade. Oxydendron arboreum (Sourwood or Sorrel Tree): Pyramidal, multi-stemmed or low branched habit with white lily-of-the-valley type flowers in July or August, forming prominent seeds which turn vivid scarlet in fall. Excellent specimen grows to 25 ft. Picea pungens glauca (Colorado Blue Spruce): Conical evergreen tree with blue color. Grows to 60 ft. Picea pungens glauca ‘Globosa’ (Globe Blue Spruce): Dwarf form of Blue Spruce, flat-topped and compact in youth, becoming pyramidal with age. Slow growing, height 3 ft. and spread of 4 to 5 ft. Silvery blue color. Picea omerika (Serbian Spruce): Narrow, conical evergreen grows 50 to 60 ft. in height. Its needles are glossy dark green with white stomatic lines underneath. Useful as a specimen or in groups. Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’ (Tanyosho or Table Top Pine): Compact dwarf tree with a flat top and rounded head. Slow growing to 9 to 10 ft. with a spread of 12 to 15 ft. Unique habit makes this a facinating plant, even for a small garden. Pinus flexilis (Limber Pine): Evergreen tree; 30-50 ft tall; 15-35 ft. wide; dark green needles about 3 in. long; cones 3-6 in. long; full sun or partial shade; adapts to many conditions; slow grower. Pinus mugo (Mugo Pine): Hardy and rugged, dwarf, mushroom-shaped evergreen shrub. Grows 2 to 6 ft. in height with a spread of 6 to 8 ft. Green foliage, 1 in. cones. Pinus nigra (Austrian Pine): Large pyramidal evergreen conifer grows 50 to 60 ft. with a spread of 40 ft. Best for backyard gardens and screens. Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak): Good native tree that grows to 50 or 60 ft. Has a broad, rounded head and distincitve light brown flaky bark. Easily transplanted and will grow in poor, drained soils as well as upland sites. Rhododendron ‘P.J.M.’ (P.J.M. Hybrid Rhododendron): Broadleaf evergreen shrub; 3 to 6 ft; rounded shape; variable lavender-pink flowers mid to late April; thumb-sized leaves, dark green in summer and plum-purple in fall; full sun or partial shade; acidic soil. Rhododendron ‘Purple Gem’ (Purple Gem Rhododendron): Low compact and slow growing cultivar with purple-blue flowers that bloom in early spring. Small dark blue foliage turns red-purple in fall. Grows 3 ft. with equal spread. Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (Gro-Low Fragrant Sumac): Low growing, spreading habit (to 2 ft. with 6 to 8 ft. spread) makes this an excellent plant for mass plantings and bank control. Small aromatic flowers bloom in the spring and are followed by large, hairy, red fruits in the summer. Prefers dry, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Ribes alpinum ‘Green Mound’ (Green Mound Currant): Dense growing shrub, perfect for a low hedge. Foliage turns golden-yellow in fall. Sun or shade. Grows 2 to 3 ft. in height with an equal spread. Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose) Fragrant flowers June through September, vary in color from white to pink to red. Its dark green foliage is disease resistant and salt tolerant. Stephanadra incisa ‘Crispa’ (Cutleaf Stephanandra): Rapid growing, low spreading shrub with very dense branches covered with deeply cut, fine textured leaves. Excellent for low hedge, ground cover or hillside planting. Nice for trailing over walls. Best in shade. Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac): Deciduous shrub grows 12 to 15 ft. in height, has delicate, fragrant, purple flowers in May. Makes a good informal hedge or screen. Prefers sun. Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm): Deciduous tree; excellent, fast growing, durable; disease and insect resistant; drought tolerant; grows to height of 45 ft. and a spread of 25 ft.; foliage is dark, lustrous green turning to shades of gray, green, orange and brown; useful as street trees and in large areas and parks; hardy to Zone 5. Viburnum x ‘Chenaultii’ (Chenault Viburnum): Shrub with dense branching habit and small dark green glossy leaves, grows to 8 ft. Pink to white flowers in late April or early May. Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghany’ (Alleghany Viburnum): Semi-evergreen shrub; USDA hybrid introduction; dark green leathery foliage; resistant to leafspot; creamy-white flowers in May, followed by brilliant fruit in August that matures to black in late September, early October; plants grow to a height of 12 ft. with a width of 10 ft.; berries attract wintering birds. Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum): Valued for its durability and utility. Makes a good hedge, grouping or filler in a shrub border. Very adaptable, grows 6 to 8 ft. in height. Perennials/Ground Covers: Allium (Ornamental Onion): Relative of the onion, useful in border or rock garden and as edging plant. Best in full sun. Foliage dies back during and after blooming. Aquilegia (Columbine): Perennial with distinctive mounds of airy, fan-like leaves contrast with pastel flowers. Best to keep moist in well-drained, rich soils. Its dainty, multi-spurred blossoms attract hummingbirds in spring and early summer. Astilbe ‘Rheinland’ (Rheinland False Spirea): Early summer-flowering perennial that thrives in shaded, moist conditions. Pink flower clusters rise in fluffy plumes over mounded green foliage. Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy): Free-flowering perennial growing 24 to 30 inches. White flowers are single or double. Foliage is deep green, and coarsely toothed. Best in full sun and well-drained soil. Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff): Perennial with fragrant, small white flowers in May and fine textured foliage. Excellent ground cover . Partial shade to full sun. Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose): Perennial with attractive evergreen foliage. Blooms in late winter and early spring in colors ranging from cream to rich dusty rose, often with a hint of green. Superb plant for the shady garden. Hyacinthus orientalis (Hyacinth) Hyacinthus orientalis (Hyacinth): Spring blooming bulb with highly fragrant blooms. Color varies depending on cultivar chosen. Prefers full sun and fertile garden soil. Narcissus (Daffodil): Early to mid-spring blooming bulb. Height 6 to 24 in. depending on selection. Distictive trumpet shaped flowers vary in color, depending on selection. Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’ (Green Carpet Pachysandra): Evergreen ground cover; dark green, glossy leaves hold color in sun; part shade preferred; 6 in. high; small white flowers in May. Having been through the program, your local extension center can provide a wealth of information including the best way to plant. On the other end of the spectrum having learned how – I have never lost an azalea I have planted or supervised the planting of.

3 Easy Hardwood Cutting Methods

Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Did you ever love a plant so much that you wished you could make more of it? I feel that way about Japanese snowball bush ( Viburnum plicatum f. plicatum , USDA Hardiness Zones 6–8). It’s big, bold, and beautiful—and I’ve always wanted a few more around my yard. But a sizable shrub can, unfortunately, cost $40 or more at the nursery, and to be honest, I’d rather spend that money on something new. But if I could propagate more little plants from my full-grown shrub, I would. Taking hardwood cuttings is the way to do it, but for years, I’ve been intimated to try this technique. Even seasoned gardeners say that it is hard to do successfully. With the following step-by-step methods, though, I found out just how easy it can be to make more of your most treasured woody plants.

California lilacForsythia
Photo/Illustration: Steve AitkenButterfly bush
Photo/Illustration: Steve Aitken

Not every plant is a candidate for the hardwood-cutting method of propagation. The ones that do qualify are mostly deciduous trees or shrubs that go through a period of dormancy before pushing significant new growth. Below is a list of some of the most popular plants to propagate this way:

*Potentially invasive

The Prep Work: Cut, coat, then make the mix

Step 1
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Step 1: For each of the propagation methods, take cuttings of your tree or shrub in the dormant season. Cut a 6- to 8-inch-long section of stem, preferably from the previous season’s growth. The top of the section should have an angled cut (to prevent water from settling and causing tip rot) just above a single bud or pair of buds. The bottom of the section should have a straight cut just below a single bud or pair of buds.

Step 2: Dip the base of each cutting into a rooting-hormone powder, which can be found at most gardening-supply stores.

Step 3: If you are going to pot up your cuttings or put them into plastic rolls to root them, you’ll need to make a special potting soil. The mixture should be four parts compost (peat-free) to one part perlite. Be sure to combine the ingredients thoroughly.

Step 2
Photo/Illustration: Danielle SherryStep 3
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Method 1: Roll them up in plastic to make the most plants

Step 1
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry Step 2
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Step 1: To make the largest number of new plants in the smallest amount of space, cut a piece of black plastic that is 1 foot wide and 3 feet long; heavy-duty contractor’s garbage bags work well, as do recycled potting-soil bags. Place several handfuls of moistened potting mix down the length of the plastic sheet, then line up the cuttings (2 to 3 inches apart) on top of the soil.

Step 2: Fold in the base of the plastic sheet so that it covers the bottom 2 or 3 inches of the cuttings, then roll up the entire sheet. Secure the roll with large rubber bands, and poke drainage holes into the base with a razor blade.

Step 3: Place the roll in a cold frame or a protected place outside, such as a spot next to the foundation of your house. When warm weather sets in and rainfall has been sparse, you can dunk the entire roll in a bucket of water occasionally to prevent the cuttings from shriveling up. Unroll the package in late summer, and replant the rooted cuttings.

Too much water is worse than not enough

Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

When it comes to keeping your cuttings moist, err on the dry side. Because the small branches don’t have any roots to start, they won’t be absorbing the excess water in the soil around them. Too much rainfall or watering by hand can quickly lead to rotted cuttings. Also, don’t fertilize the cuttings until they are rooted and transplanted; fertilizers can burn tender cuttings or even kill them.

Method 2: Put them in a pot to get the best root development

Step 1
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry Step 2
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry Step 3
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Step 1: Fill a 1-gallon pot with potting soil and then push five to seven cuttings into the pot (around the edge), leaving just one bud or one pair of the buds exposed.

Step 2: Water the cuttings in, making sure that the soil is consistently moist throughout the pot.

Step 3: Place the pot in a cold frame or in an unheated location where it will still receive some light (by a window in the garage, for exam­ple), and keep it there throughout winter and into spring. Keep the soil fairly dry during the coldest months. Increase watering as the days get warmer, and move the pot outside to a partially shaded spot after the last frost. You should see some shoot growth by midspring, but wait until late summer before transplanting the rooted cuttings.

Method 3: Sink them into the soil to let nature do the work

Step 1
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry Step 2
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry Step 3
Photo/Illustration: Danielle Sherry

Step 1: Select a location that has amended, well-drained soil, such as a raised bed. Insert the cuttings into the soil, leaving a pair of buds aboveground and spacing them at 4- to 6-inch intervals. If the soil is partially frozen and difficult to work, use a shovel or pitchfork to dig a shallow trench.

Step 2: Cover the cuttings with a floating row cover to help them overwinter outside without damage. Periodically check the cuttings to make sure they haven’t shifted and to lightly water if the conditions are dry.

Step 3: Remove the cover in spring, when you start to see sprouting. Wait until late summer or early fall before transplanting the rooted cuttings.

How to Propagate Plants from Cuttings

By The National Gardening Association, Bob Beckstrom, Karan Davis Cutler, Kathleen Fisher, Phillip Giroux, Judy Glattstein, Michael MacCaskey, Bill Marken, Charlie Nardozzi, Sally Roth, Marcia Tatroe, Lance Walheim, Ann Whitman

When people speak of propagating plants, they usually mean taking cuttings — using pieces of stems, roots, and leaves to start new plants. Softwood stem cuttings, taken from spring until midsummer, root the quickest. During this time, plants are actively growing, and the stems are succulent and flexible.

Here’s how to take a softwood stem cutting:

  1. Cut a 4- to 5-inch-long (10 to 12 cm) stem (or side shoot) just below a leaf, and remove all but two or three leaves at the top.

    Make sure you use a sharp knife to minimize damage.

  2. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone.

    Rooting hormone is a powder or liquid containing growth hormones that stimulate root growth on cuttings. Some also contain a fungicide to control root rot. Local nurseries or garden centers carry the product.

  3. Insert the cutting into a box or container, filled with about 3 inches (8 cm) of moistened pure builder’s sand, vermiculite, or perlite.

    The ideal container should have drainage holes.

  4. Slip the container into a self-sealing plastic bag.

    Prop up the bag with something like toothpicks or short twigs so that the plastic doesn’t touch the leaves. Seal the bag to minimize water loss, but open it occasionally to let in fresh air.

  5. Place the covered container in indirect light.

    Easy-to root perennials include begonia, candytuft, chrysanthemum, carnations or pinks (Dianthus), geraniums (Pelargonium), penstemon, phlox, sage, sedum. Woody plants that you can root include bougainvillea, fuchsia, gardenia, heather, honeysuckle, ivy, pyracantha, star jasmine, and willow.

  6. When the cuttings are well rooted (4 to 8 weeks, for most plants) and are putting on new growth, transplant them into individual containers of potting soil.

    As they continue to grow, gradually expose them to more light. When the plants are well established in the pots and continue to put on top growth, harden them off (acclimate them to your weather conditions) and plant them in their permanent garden location.

To harden off new plants, gradually move them to more extreme temperatures and sunlight. Moving them from the porch to outside in partial sun and finally to full sun over a week’s time should do the trick

I will not lie and say I have attempted propagation of every houseplant. In fact, my main success stories involve the characters spider plant, jade plant, pothos, and mother-in-law’s tongue. But in general, the best indoor plants to try to propagate (including those I mentioned) are generally hardy and quick-growing: Consider coleus, begonia, scented geranium, Swedish ivy, and African violet.

What are the most difficult houseplants to propagate?

Above: Horticulturalist Sarah Scott of Botanic Creative hosts workshops for houseplant lovers. For more information, see Botanic Creative.

Unfortunately, despite generous pampering (and plant prayers), some indoor plants are difficult to clone. Not surprisingly, variegated selections can be challenging because variegation is a mutation that can vary in stability, meaning the plant could potentially revert to solid green.

Above: Pothos ‘Marble Queen’ has white variegation and is slower growing than other varieties. It looks excellent in a white pot. See more at Pothos: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Other factors that may make it difficult to propagate: A sickly plant will obviously provide less than favorable results, as will a plant notorious for fickleness (such as Calathea ornata, which is super sensitive to temperature fluctuations).

Do I need any special equipment?

Above: Photograph courtesy of Needles and Leaves. For more, see DIY: How to Root Succulents.

Unless propagation is your full-time job (and therefore you’re talking about supplies such as thermometers, grow lights and greenhouses), there are only a handful of required materials needed: quality potting soil, a sharp, clean knife or pair of clippers, small starter pots, and rooting hormone you can find at most garden centers.

Above: An aloe offshoot, ready to repot. See more at Aloe 101: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Justine Hand.

How long does it take for new roots to form?

Above: See more at How to Care for Aloe Vera, the Plant of Immortality. Photograph by Justine Hand.

Every plant’s growth rate varies as do the variables involved in propagating, such as the humidity level and temperature in your house, the amount of moisture you give the plant, and the health of the “mother plant.” Plus, a bit of luck always affects the outcome in the world of gardening. With that said, however, expect to see some action in anywhere from one to two weeks.

See more growing tips in our curated Garden Design guides for Succulents, Houseplants, and Vines & Climbers.

Propagating Cuttings

Stephen Ryan

STEPHEN RYAN: Today I’m going to talk about growing plants from cuttings. Now growing plants from cuttings isn’t hard to do. It’s a simple straight forward thing and it’s something we should all be having a crack at and it costs you nearly nothing to do.

First and most important is to have something you’re going to take cuttings off. Now you may well have taken the cuttings out of the garden. Do them as fresh as you can. Don’t pick them and do them tomorrow. Cuttings will always strike better if they’re really nice and fresh.

You need some propagating medium. Now in my case I’ve got some washed propagating sand, or I’ve got some perlite that works really well as a propagating material as well. The other things you need are a really good, sharp knife, some propagating hormone of some sort or another and it may well be a powder hormone that you can dip your cuttings into. And these products all help stimulate callous tissue that will then produce roots, so some of you might like the powder one. You can also get liquids and gels and they can work quite well for certain cuttings, particularly cuttings that have a tendency to bleed cause they seal the whole cut. So they’re quite good for that. And some people swear by honey as a very good way of starting off your cuttings.

Now, when you’re selecting propagating material, it’s really important to select the right material – the healthiest, best material off the plant and in fact there’s 3 types of cuttings – soft wood cuttings which are from wood that still bends and moves, so it’s quite soft, there’s semi-hardwood cuttings that are from stuff that’s firmed up, but hasn’t got really hard yet and then there’s hardwood cuttings which are generally taken in mid-winter and that’s generally off deciduous plants when they’re completely dormant.

And so when I do a cutting, I look for a node where the bud was, I put the knife in behind the node and I will slice down. That then makes an opening where the cambium tissue has been exposed over a comparatively large area. And then I’ll go to the bottom of that piece there and again, I will cut like that. If the leaves on something are really large, some people will say cut the leaves, some people say don’t cut the leaves – I actually do cut leaves because when I’m putting cuttings in, I don’t putacutting in a pot – I put several cuttings in a pot, and if you’ve got great big leaves on things, apart from the fact that they transpire more moisture, it’s easier to put your cuttings in because they’re not going to hang their leaves over each other, so you can get far more cuttings into a pot. And the other thing you need to do is have a technical thing called a dibber. And what a dibber does is it makes a hole because you shouldn’t just get your cutting and shove it in like that because you’re damaging the bark.

So once you’ve got your cuttings in place, you water them in well. So you do have to water at least a couple of times a day. And you need to work out when your cuttings are struck and that’s always something people have an issue with, but generally speaking, if you use containers that are an appropriate depth, the way to tell your cuttings have struck is when there’s roots coming out the bottom. I hope I’ve given you some good information on growing cuttings and I hope I’ve inspired you to go home and do it tonight.

Thanks everybody.

Let’s go to John now who’s lucky enough to be enjoying the colourful blooms of the Rhododendron.

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