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How to take root cuttings

You will need

  • Garden fork
  • Sharp knife
  • Large pots
  • Gritty compost mix made from equal parts grit or perlite and potting compost
  • Label and pencil
Do it: December - January
Takes just: 30 minutes


Taking root cuttings couldn't be easier and it's the ideal way to increase your stock of perennials, such as phlox, rhus, mint, Japanese anemones and Primula denticulata. Take cuttings in winter and you'll be potting up new plants in spring.

How to do it


Use a garden fork to lift the whole plant out of the ground gently, taking care not to damage its roots. Separate a section of roots and replant the parent plant. Wash the roots in water to remove any soil.


Using a sharp knife, cut off 5cm lengths of healthy roots from the main root ball.


Using a sharp knife, remove the outer layer from one end of the cutting. This will stimulate new root growth once the section of root is planted.


Fill pots with gritty compost and use a pencil or dibber to mke planting holes. Gently lower the cuttings, with the nicked end pointing downwards, into the compost. Water well.


Cover the compost with a thick layer of horticultural grit, to keep the compost moist. Label pots and place them in a cool spot indoors or in a cold frame.

Our tip

Thick roots can be pushed vertically into planting holes made with a pencil. Make sure they go in the right way up. Roots will form at the end that was furthest away from the parent plant, so this end should sit in the bottom of the planting hole.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to take root cuttings
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redheadirish 24/11/2011 at 15:29

what plants can you do this technique with?

Edite Ferreira 18/01/2012 at 09:21

After harvesting of rocket can you replant root cuttings of it? I made the mistake of sowing the seeds too close together but non the less it sprung in just 2 days. Please advise.

Kind Regads,

Heather Edmondson 22/08/2015 at 21:19

What is the best root powder to use for general garden plants ? Thanks