Taking and Preparing Cuttings
There is simply nothing more satisfying or rewarding than increasing your plant stock by taking cuttings. Taking plant cuttings is a quick and easy way of building your plant stock.
What cuttings to take and when
March- April: Spring is the time to take cuttings of ornamental bedding plants such as Busy Lizzies and Pansies to be ready to plant up in May. This is also the time to take cuttings from shrubs such as Hydrangeas and forsythias.
March-July: Early spring to early summer is the key time for taking cuttings of soft herbs such as Mint, Rosemary, Basil, Lavender and Lemon Balm. This is also a great time for taking hardwood cuttings of berry plants such as gooseberries and blackberries.
- The day before taking cuttings, water the plant you intend to propagate to hydrate it thoroughly. Take cuttings in the morning when they are full of water.
- Take the stem and bend it lightly. If the stem breaks with a snapping sound, it is in the softwood stage and ready to be harvested as a cutting. If the stem is still too green, it will bend but not break. If the stem is entering the woody stage, it won't bend at all. The best results are achieved when taking a cutting that have a small piece of older more mature wood on the base because this is less susceptible to rotting.
- Choose healthy, pest free and non-flowering shoots for your cuttings.
- Snip off the shoots with clean, sharp secateurs or a clean craft knife. The cuttings should be 5-10cm long. Cut straight and cleanly directly under a node (the bump where the leaf emerges).
- Remove all but one or two pairs of leaves at the tip. If the remaining leaves are very large you can cut them in half to reduce the amount of water the cutting will lose through transpiration.
- Place the cuttings in a clean plastic bag to minimise water-loss.
Planting the cuttings
1. Fill a 10cm pot with free-draining compost, level the compost out and gently firm it down.
2. Use a dibber to make a hole in the compost for the cutting, insert the cutting, label the pot and put it in a heated propagator with the lid on at a temperature of between 18-24°C.
3. Place in a bright place but not in direct sunlight, covering with horticultural fleece will help to diffuse strong sunlight. Typically the cuttings will develop roots in 6-10 weeks. Make sure that the soil is moist throughout this time, but take care not to over-water as rotting is a common problem.
4. Once the cuttings have rooted, harden them off and pot them individually into new pots.
Top Tip: Take several cuttings from each shrub to increase your chance of success. Label if you’re making cuttings of several varieties.
If you are using the Hydropod Propagator you can see the roots growing because there is no soil so there is no need to pull on your plants.
If you are propagating cuttings in soil, check for roots by gently tugging at the plants after several weeks. If they have rooted then there should be some resistance.
The heating elements in our Vitopod heated propagator are grouped very close together completely covering the Vitopod base meaning there are no hot spots or cold spots so there is no need to use sand to even out the temperature. See your seed packet for guidance as all seeds are different.