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How to take softwood cuttings


It's easy to create more plants for your garden without having to fork out at the garden centre. Take softwood cuttings from your ornamental shrubs and woody herbs, and you can boost stocks for free.

Softwood cuttings should be taken during June and July. Choose strong, current season’s shoots, as they have the potential to root quickly and rapidly grow into new plants. The hydrangea shoots (pictured above) are perfect.

Taking cuttings is simple and easy, and a cost effective method of filling gaps in beds and borders. It's also a great way to replace dead shrubs, or to create gifts for friends and family.

How to do it

Taking softwood cuttings: Remove shoots just above a leaf on the parent plant


Remove shoots, longer than the finished cutting, just above a leaf on the parent plant.

Use a sharp knife to cut just below a leaf joint and remove the leaves


Aim to make a cutting not more than 10cm long. Use a sharp knife to cut just below a leaf joint and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.


Reduce leaf area by half to minimise water loss from the cutting.

Taking softwood cuttings: dip the base of the cutting in hormone rooting powder


You may wish to dip the base of the cutting in hormone rooting powder, tapping off any excess. Using rooting hormone increases the rooting speed and successof the cutting, but it isn't essential.

Taking softwood cuttings: insert cuttings into moist cuttings compost


Insert cuttings into 7cm pots of moist cuttings compost, keeping lower leaves just above compost level.

Taking softwood cuttings: place a polythene bag over the top


Push in thin canes around the pot, then cover with a clear polythene bag held in place with an elastic band. Place cuttings in a warm position, out of direct sun, to root.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to take softwood cuttings
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Derek Luther 30/05/2013 at 18:01

To hold the bag in place use an identical pot.The bag will be pinched between the two pots. Works with square ones as well.

chicky 30/05/2013 at 18:37

how clever - beats an elastic band !

artjak 31/05/2013 at 06:26


ArleneJ 31/05/2013 at 11:21

A light plastic shower cap ... the type you get in hotels ... works really well too!

Baggies2 12/06/2013 at 23:00

is this a good way to propergate laurel for a hedge?