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How to take basal cuttings


During April, the strong basal shots of herbaceous perennials make easy, quick-rooting cuttings. The tall forms of phlox are ideal candidates, and gardeners have long propagated them in this way to share with friends and neighbours. From July, you'll see many gardens awash with their pink, purple and white flowers, and their perfume fills the evening air.

By taking your own basal cuttings, you can make lots of new plants, which gives you plenty of scope to try out different planting ideas. And you can use this technique on all manner of beautiful border perennials.

How to do it


Select a plant with plenty of strong basal shoots, 10-12cm long, and choose three or four for your cuttings. Make a clean cut, severing the shoot as near to the base as possible.


Neaten the cut if necessary, then use a sharp knife to remove any basal leaves that may end up under the compost surface. Pinch out the top with your nails.


Use a dibber or chopstick to ease the cuttings into the compost, sinking them to at least 2.5cm deep. Cuttings will root most readily if placed around the edge.


Cover the compost surface with sharp grit to discourage weeds and retain moisture. Water and mist the cuttings frequently to cut down on loss of moisture through the leaves.


Place a clear plastic bag over your cuttings after watering to keep them damp.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to take basal cuttings
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Fishy65 21/04/2014 at 23:34

I did this today for the first time ever? I have a delphinium given to me by a neighbour about 4 years ago and I decided to take a basal cutting (two as it turned out) by following a gardeners world video.One was a bit long I thought...about 10" and that has drooped quite badly despite following the guide and using the plastic bag.However,the other (about 6") seems to be doing well so I'm hoping it will take.

Just to point out,I very much doubt I'd have tried this if left to my own devices.We live and learn.

artjak 22/04/2014 at 07:47

I'm a newcomer to cuttings too; I have found that you really want the cutting to be quite short; less of an effort for the newly developing root system to support and of course initially there won't be any roots at all.

NGLittleSeedlings 22/04/2014 at 07:51

I am thinking of doing the same with some Dahlia Tubers once they have grown a bit more. As the saying goes you never know unless you try