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How Do You Grow a Plant from a Cutting?

Updated on September 4, 2012
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How do you grow a plant from a cutting? There are many ways to propagate new plants. Most people think of growing plants from seeds, but many plants grow well from cuttings. And, one of the best advantages of growing plants from cuttings is that they will mature faster than those grown from seed. By selecting the right kinds of plants and utilizing some very simple techniques, growing plants is a simple project to try in the home.

Supplies

· Sharp scissors or garden shears.

· Sharp knife.

· Rubbing alcohol/alcohol wipes to clean your shears/knife.

· Pencil

· Potting soil.

· Small pots or containers.

· Clear plastic bags.

· Rooting hormone (optional for herbaceous plants; recommended for woody plants).

Selecting Plants to Grow From Cuttings

Generally, vining plants are well suited to propagation from cuttings. Some good candidates are ivy (all types), philodendron, pothos, vinca vine, rosemary, and lotus vine. Some others that do not have a vining growth habit which are also good candidates are coleus, geraniums, poinsettias, and dieffenbachia. There are different methods for growing plants from cuttings and some plants are better suited to one method or another. Sometimes, it can take a little experimentation to determine the best method for any one plant.

Herbaceous Cuttings

Herbaceous plants are those that have soft stems, such as herbs (like lavender) and house plants (like dieffenbachia). To propagate by cutting, it is best to take cuttings from the plant during periods of active growth and when the stem is soft.

1. Select a piece of stem approximately 2-6 inches long from the mother plant, ensuring that you have 2-3 sets of leaves on the stem. Make your cut directly below where a leaf joins the stem.

2. Remove the bottom leaf. This is the point from which the roots of the new plant will emerge. If the cutting has many leaves that are close together, it may be necessary to remove more leaves. Generally, the bottom 1/3 of the stem should be free of leaves.

3. Remove any flowers, buds, or fruit from the cutting.

4. Dip the cut end of the cutting into rooting hormone.

5. Using a sharpened pencil, poke a small hole in the soil of the container in which you plan to grow the cutting. (Soil should be moist but not wet.)

6. Place the bottom of the stem into the soil just below the first set of leaves. (The leaves should not be touching the soil.) Firm the soil around the base of the cutting. Several cuttings may be placed in the same container, depending on the size of the container.

7. Place a plastic bag over the container. This will work to keep the plant in a humid environment and trap heat, factors essential for successful growth.

8. Place the plant in a warm area, but out of direct sunlight. Check the plant daily to see if it needs any water. Gently mist the plant if it needs water to prevent overwatering.

9. After about 2 weeks, gently lift up the plant to see if roots have developed. If not, leave the plant in the bag and allow it to continue to grow.

10. As roots begin to establish, allow less humidity by opening the plastic bag, and eventually removing it.

11. Once good root growth has established, the plant can be moved to its final container.

Hardwood Cuttings

Because of their woody stems, hardwood plants generally take longer to grow from cuttings. Herbaceous plants may require only 2-3 weeks while hardwood plants may require 2-4 months to establish roots. These cuttings are best taken in winter.

1. Select a healthy stem from the plant, preferably one that has grown over the past summer.

2. Cut the stem directly beneath a node (the place on the stem from with new leaves would emerge).

3. Using a pencil, make a mark on the cutting approximately 2 inches above the cut. This is the portion of the stem that will be placed in the soil.

4. Count to make sure the stem has 2 buds above the line you marked. Cut the stem again. (The next cut will be approximately 2-6 inches above the line, depending on the type of plant.)

5. In order to ensure that the cutting will be able to uptake enough moisture from the soil, it is necessary to “wound” the stem. At the base of the cutting, use your knife to remove a 1-inch section of bark. You will do this twice on opposite sides of the base of the cutting. When removing the bark, cut deep enough to expose the inner green portion of the stem, but not so deep as to split the stem in half.

6. Dip the cut end of the stem, the bottom inch, into rooting hormone, and place the cutting into the soil up to the 2-inch mark you made on the stem.

7. Place a plastic bag over the container. This will work to keep the plant in a humid environment and trap heat, factors essential for successful growth.

8. Place the plant in a warm area, but out of direct sunlight. Check the plant daily to see if it needs any water. Gently mist the plant if it needs water to prevent overwatering.

9. After about 2 weeks, gently lift up the plant to see if roots have developed. If not, leave the plant in the bag and allow it to continue to grow.

10. As roots begin to establish, allow less humidity by opening the plastic bag, and eventually removing it.

11. Once good root growth has established, the plant can be moved to its final container.

Tips for Successful Growth from Cuttings

· Sterilize your scissors or clippers before taking cuttings. This will reduce any chance of spreading disease if any is present. Simple wipe down the blades with rubbing alcohol and allow them to dry before making a cut.

· Summer is the best time of year to take cuttings from perennial plants.

· Winter is the best time of year to take cuttings from deciduous hardwood plants.

· Morning, when plants are at their freshest, is the best time of day to take cuttings.

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      This is a good look at starting plants from cuttings. Growing new plants with these methods is an amazing process. I enjoy watching them grow on my own property and also sharing them with others.