Anyone with a group of green-fingered friends, or an allotment, will already know the pleasure of sharing cuttings. Nurturing a tiny snippet of a plant to maturation is deeply satisfying, and sharing cuttings is a great way of keeping the cost of populating your garden or plant boxes down.
Best Plants to Use
Some plants propagate better from cuttings than others. Species to try first include lavender, honeysuckle, geranium, gardenia, boxwood, camellia, rose, and rosemary. Tomatoes also grow especially well from cuttings, and there are a number of
vegetables and herbs which regrow themselves, including basil, celery, mint, ginger, spring onions, bok choy, and romaine lettuce. Plants with non-woody stems are best, and always choose a mature plant which will withstand having a cutting taken.
How to Propagate Cuttings
- Use sharp scissors or secateurs to take the cutting. Choose a stem which is new, but which has matured – something grown this season is ideal. Keep the cutting in proportion to the plant, taking a smaller cutting for a shrub or smaller plant, and a larger one for a tree. If you’re not sure, take between four and eight inches (10-20 centimetres). Make the cutting just underneath a knot if you can, as this is the point where new stems grow.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the cutting, so the stem is bare. Remove any flowers or buds as these will hog the nutrients your cutting needs to flourish.
- Put the base of the cutting in a glass or pot of water with a splash of liquid seaweed fertiliser immediately, and allow to soak for a few hours. If you can’t do this straight away, wrap the base of the cutting in wet newspaper to stop it from drying out.
- Dip the end of the plant in rooting hormone.
- Use a clean pot filled with soilless potting mix, in which you have poked holes with clean fingers or something like a pencil. Soil contains spores and pathogens which can easily kill a new cutting. You don’t need a large pot as you will re-pot it once the roots take.
Rooting hormone is not essential but since it stimulates root growth it will increase the chances of your cutting growing successfully. You can buy commercial varieties, or make your own by mixing one tablespoon of honey into one pint of boiling water and allowing to cool; or mixing one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into 3 pints of water.
You should not take a cutting without the permission of the plant’s owner, but never be afraid of asking as most gardeners will take it as a huge compliment.