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How to take root cuttings

Discover how to take leaf cuttings from plants such as phlox, mint and primulas, in our guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do To do in December

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.

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
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Total time:

Step 1

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.

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Step 2

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

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Step 3

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.

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Step 4

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.

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Step 5

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.

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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.