How to take carnation cuttings

How to take carnation cuttings

Follow these easy steps to boost your stock of pinks and carnations.

Do it:

May, Jun

Takes just:

20 minutes

Pinks (scented) and carnations (unscented) are easy to propagate from 'pipings'. These are made from soft tips of strong, unflowered shoots, around five pairs of leaves in length.

Summer is the ideal time for taking cuttings, as plant cells divide quickly, promoting root growth. Propagating plants by cuttings is an easy and cheap way of replacing straggly, old plants.

For best results, take cuttings first thing in the morning when the plants are less likely to wilt, and pot them up as soon as you can, keeping them out of strong sunlight.

For more plants to propagate in summer, check out these short guides to propagating houseleeks (Sempervivum) and dividing auriculas.

Follow these easy steps on how to take carnation cuttings.

You will need

  • Pinks
  • Cuttings compost
  • Gardeners' knife
  • Secateurs
  • Small pots


Snip 10cm lengths from the tops of healthy, non-flowering shoots and pinch off all the leaves from the bottom half.
Prepare cuttings by trimming with a sharp knife just below the node where a pair of leaves joins the stem. Make a 2mm cut in the base of each cutting and remove the lowest leaf pair. 
Fill a pot or seed tray with seeds and cuttings compost, or sieved multi-purpose. Push the cuttings in around 10mm deep, spacing them evenly  so that the leaves aren't touching.
Propagating plants by cuttings is an easy and cheap way of replacing straggly, old plants.
Use a watering can, fitted with a fine rose to drench the compost. Cover with a plastic bag and pop on a windowsill to root. After a few weeks, when the cuttings are growing strongly, pot each one up individually to grow on.


Uncover the cuttings every few days. This will allow fresh air to circulate the plants and reduce the risk of fungal infection. When new leaves start to grow, leave the cover off permanently.

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