An endless supply of free plants - Growing from cutting.
We have already talked about growing from seed and growing from slips.
Now, let’s talk about cuttings.
A cutting is when a stem or section is removed from a plant and placed in a growing medium where it eventually produces its own roots, creating an entirely new plant, identical to the original.
The bane of my mother’s life. My favourite line and her most dreaded words are “Guess how many plants I just made”.
Teaching me how to take a cutting of a plant is a lesson she regrets from time to time but the process fascinates me. To think you can just snip a section off a plant and create a whole new plant is amazing in my eyes.
So, what do I do?
Snip, snip, snippety snip. Chop bits off things and make more things.
There are various types of cuttings. The type of material depends on what time of year and stage of growth cycle you take the cutting at.
Softwood cuttings are taken from new fresh growth of a plant. This is when the cells are active, and they usually root quite easily.
Semi-softwood is taken when the new growth begins to harden but is still flexible. These cuttings are usually taken in late summer.
Hardwood cuttings are taken when the plant is dormant. The wood has had quite some time to mature and become woody. These usually take longer to root but with some patience you can take cuttings all year round once you understand the growth stages and different types of material.
I am lucky enough to have mature gardens on the farm that were planted by my parents and nana when we were building the house 15 years ago. Having the mature gardens means I have access to lots of large plants and shrubs that I can take cuttings from year-round, and it will not be noticed (most of the time).
Another favourite line of mine “If you can find where I took it from, I’ll put it back.”
When pruning back in the Autumn and Spring I tend to pot up most of my clippings. There is no fancy process with how I make my cuttings. I just cut it at a node, strip the lower leaves and stick it in a pot. These cuttings will be left for a few months until they begin producing a root system. They then get potted up individually and these will provide me with plants for the year.
Propagating my own plants has allowed me to create countless shrubs that I otherwise would not have been able to afford. Taking cuttings is something I would recommend anyone to try. The process of waiting for a tiny stem to start to shoot out roots and build its own blooms is beyond fascinating and extremely rewarding.
How to take a cutting
Select a straight section of healthy plant material.
Remove the leaves from the lower section of the stem.
Locate a leaf node and cut the stem at this section. This is where the most dividing cells are located and so it makes it easier for the cutting to produce roots.
Place your cutting into your planting medium along the edge of a pot as this provides for better drainage.
If the leaves are large you may consider cutting sections off as you want the cutting to put all its energy into producing roots rather than supporting leaf growth.
And now you wait.
When you begin to see roots forming through the bottom of the pot or the plant begins to produce new growth it is time to pot on and allow each cutting an individual pot to mature.
Have patience and have fun. Growing plants from cuttings is an enjoyable process and one I think everyone should try.