You can multiply plants from plants that are already in the garden! The method is easy and can be a good choice for breeding your favorite plants, especially if the plants include rare varieties, are inherited plants or are classified as expensive plants.
Step 1. Select the plants to cut
You may want to propagate herbaceous plants such as rosemary or lavender, clumps of flowers such as roses or other plants. However, keep in mind that not all plants can be propagated by cuttings. Read a gardening guide to see if the plant can be propagated by cuttings. Otherwise, you may be surprised at what you can get by just trial and error without worrying if the plant turns out to be uncut.
Step 2. Use sharp garden shears and cut off the plant shoots
Choose relatively new, but mature shoots from the parent plant. Determine the length of the cuttings. In general, cut about 8-10 cm for evergreen plants and 15-30 cm for shrubs. As the size varies, depending on the type of plant, you may need to use the trial method again. When cutting, unless otherwise advised for a particular plant, cut the stems at a 30-degree angle so that the stem cuttings have a pointed tip.
- Short stem cuttings are suitable for smaller plants and shrubs, while longer cuttings (also known as “truncheons”) up to 1–2 meters and 5–10 cm in diameter are best suited for larger plants such as poplars and mulberry.
- When in doubt, make cuts about 10-20 c long.
Step 3. Remove to leaves from the bottom of the cuttings
Don't forget to remove two leaves from the bottom of the cut and pick two leaves at the top as well. Remove flower buds as they will absorb too much of the nutrients the plant needs to grow new roots.
It is best to cut the cuttings about to 1 cm below the node (a node has two small twigs and two leaves) as roots tend to grow around and under the node
Step 4. Process the cuttings
Processing stem cuttings increases its chances of creating new roots because the plant has the necessary nutrients. Place the stem cuttings in a low concentration mixture made of water and a seaweed-based liquid fertilizer for 3-4 hours. If you have a fluorescent lamp, place a piece under it. After that, dip the cutting ends in root hormone before planting.
Step 5. Make a substrate for root formation
You can start root formation in sand, soil, or even water. Some cuttings will root faster in water than in soil. You can do experiments or find out what media plants like the most. Sand has qualities between soil and water, but must be treated like water if you want to add fertilizer.
- Make holes in the sand or soil using a pencil or chopstick to stick the cuttings. Cutting tips should be planted to a depth of about 3-5 cm, but this can vary depending on the size of the cutting stem.
- Protect cuttings from direct sunlight.
- If you are using water as a medium for growing roots, add a small amount of liquid fertilizer. It's a good idea to protect the plant from direct sunlight as the very strong UV rays can damage the roots. In addition to its effectiveness, water media also provides another advantage because you can see the development of the roots. Not only is this fun (especially if the kids are involved), but it also lets you know when the plant is ready to move without having to guess whether roots have already formed. Once roots begin to appear, the speed at which they develop can be impressive, you can even see the change from one hour to the next with the naked eye.
- If you are using a soil medium, plant the cuttings in a garden plot that is moist and enriched with organic matter. Make sure the soil pH is around 5.5-6.0 (or you can also plant the cuttings in pots with ready-to-use growing media). Plant cuttings equidistant from the stem length.
If the cuttings are taken from soft woody plants, plant them directly in moist soil. You simply water it and in a year or two, it will grow alongside the other plants in the garden
Step 6. Water the cuttings well after planting
Then, make sure the cuttings are damp, but not waterlogged (try using a plant spray). The success rate can vary from 0 to 90%, depending on the plant (how many plants cannot be propagated by this method). Do not be discouraged if the roots do not develop at all, and do not be surprised if the cuttings wilt during the first few days, this is not necessarily a sign of failure.
- To maintain sufficient moisture, you can wrap the cuttings in a plastic bag, being careful not to get them so tightly that they block airflow.
- Trees are among the most difficult to propagate by cutting methods, while cacti and succulents are the easiest. Plants whose leaves retain water, such as lavender and geranium, have near 100% success rates.
Step 7. Move the cuttings to the last planting location once you are sure roots have formed
If you are breeding willow, poplar or mulberry trees, trim the ends of the cuttings, and drive them into the ground about the length of the trunk so that only a small part is sticking out of the ground. It is recommended that you plant the cuttings in the desired final location. You don't need to do much after that, except protect the cuttings from plant-eating animals (rabbits, goats, buffalo, etc.).
To test if roots have formed, pull the stem cutting very slowly. If you feel a little resistance, it means the roots have started to grow. Don't pull too hard or the roots will break
- If you don't have root growth hormone, you can apply a little honey to the surface of the cut stem.
- To increase the chances of success, wrap the pot in a transparent plastic bag and tie the mouth of the bag at the top with a rubber band. This will increase the humidity and temperature. Use a plant sprayer to increase the moisture in the leaves as of the plant moisture is absorbed through the leaves.
- Cuttings have the best chance of growing in a low-stress environment, such as when the weather is not too hot. This will give the cuttings sufficient time to form roots before experiencing drought, hot weather, and low humidity.
- Commercially available root growth hormone can be found in most nurseries. This hormone will accelerate root growth on cuttings.
- Remove any cuttings that fail to form roots after two to four weeks and are clearly dead. If at the end of this period there are green spots, there is a good chance that the cuttings have successfully grown into a healthy plant.
- Purchase about 135 kg of ready-to-use, nutrient-rich planting medium to increase the success of cuttings.
- Some cuttings require a greenhouse equipped with a heater and sprayer for a better success rate. This type of plant rarely gives success if grown at home.
- Plants have different growth rates so it can be a bit difficult to decide when they are ready to be moved to a permanent location. Wait about two to three months if you're doing the tuning when it's not too hot or longer if you're doing it in hot weather.
- Cuttings have the best chance of growing in a place protected from midday sun and excessive wind.
- Green plants that are easy to grow by cutting methods include:
- Bleeding heart
- Garden phlox
- Purple rock cress and other rock cress
- Vinca, periwinkle
- Beware of invasive species. Don't make more cuttings for plants that are considered pests in your neighborhood.
- Some plants are not able to develop roots by cutting methods. After a few tries, you'll know what works and what doesn't.
- Be careful not to water the cuttings too much. Excess water can cause rotting of the cut stem surface and the plant will die. You can prevent rot by dipping the tips of the cuttings in honey. Even so, make sure the soil is always moist, but not soaking wet.
- Always be careful when handling ready-to-use growing media or garden soil as pathogens living in these media can be inhaled or passed from hand to mouth. Wash your hands thoroughly after gardening and wear a mask if you tend to have breathing problems or if you have a compromised immune system.