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How to take summer cuttings


Cuttings taken from new shoots will root easily in spring to provide new plants for flowerbeds or pots. Alternatively take cuttings of your favourite plants in late-summer to overwinter indoors ready for planting or potting in the following season. Practice the basics of rooting softwood cuttings with our step-by-step advice and you'll be able to use these skills for more complex cuttings.

How to do it

Removing shoots to use as cuttings

1Softwood cuttings are taken from the current season's growth. Choose non-flowering side shoots, taking them as long as possible. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to cut them from the parent plant.

Trimming cutting with a knife to length

2Use a sharp knife to trim below a single leaf joint or pair of leaves aiming to create a finished cutting of 8cm - 10cm long. Carefully remove any leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.

Adding cuttings compost mix to pot

3Fill a 10cm pot with cuttings compost, tapping it on the work surface to consolidate it. Mixing the compost with equal parts of perlite (see picture) will make the compost more aerated and can often encourage quicker rooting.

Dipping cutting into rooting hormone

4Although not essential for easy-to-root plants, dipping the base of the cutting into rooting hormone will promote root development. Carefully tap off the excess powder or liquid.

Inserting cutting in pot of compost

5Insert the base of the cutting into the pot of compost. You should be able to fit three or four cuttings in a 10cm pot. Where possible try to position cuttings so that their leaves don't touch.

Covering cuttings with polythene bag

6Water the cuttings using a watering can fitted with a rose and allow the excess to drain and the foliage to dry. Then cover the pot with a clear polythene bag held in place with a rubber band around the pot.

Root emerging from the base of a pot

7Place the pot on a well-lit position indoors, but out of direct sunlight. Keep compost moist and your cuttings should root in six to eight weeks. When the roots appear at the bottom of the pot, plant your cuttings up singly in the same-sized pot.

Adam's tip

Take cuttings in the morning, when the shoots are at their freshest.
Remove the polythene bag once a day and shake out excess water to prevent conditions becoming too humid inside.

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Talkback: How to take summer cuttings
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sallyfarrell 24/11/2011 at 15:28

where do I find out how to take clematis cuttings please?

Lesley3 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Help my daughter bought me a beautiful Hydrangea two years ago.

Last year it had three or four lovely blooms , this year although the foliage looks very healthy, not one single flower. It is at the back of the border,next to the pond, facing east. I have not pruned it or given it any special feed. Anything I can do to help?

asperge 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Very useful, as the majority of the books do not give detailed advise.
It is some time since I came back to your site as I seemed to have problems in saving items, so hope to use it more often now.

gerryhearn 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Excellent article but even better to use a bigger pot and put a transparent yoghourt pot in the middle; surround with compost and proceed as in the article. This way you can see how many roots have grown and judge when to pot on easily.

patabee 24/11/2011 at 15:29

regarding the hydrangea - the plant should be fed once a week and not pruned until the spring. the feed could be any well-known plant food, but should contain phostragen for production of flowers.

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