Taking cuttings is a great way to propagate new plants. You can take cuttings at any time of year in a variety of ways, but the easiest (and most successful) method is by taking cuttings of plants’ stems in summer. Summer cuttings can be taken from a number of plants including rosemary, lavender and other shrubby perennials. They root easily and quickly bulk up so you can pot them on by autumn.
Other cuttings to try include root cuttings, basal cuttings, leaf cuttings and hardwood cuttings. Get the basics right and you’ll be able to propagate a huge variety of plants in your garden, with very little kit.
How to take cuttings
Take summer cuttings by snipping the top few centimetres of new growth from plants. Remove the bottom few leaves of each cutting and push into a pot of moist but gritty compost. (You can use rooting powder to encourage root growth, but it’s usually not necessary.) Water well and allow to drain. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag such as a freezer bag, and wrap an elastic band or similar around the pot to increase humidity. Place the pot in a warm, light spot such as a windowsill, out of direct sunlight. Check on the cutting regularly. When you see signs of growth, remove the plastic bag and water the cutting. It should be ready to pot on in a few weeks.
More on taking cuttings:
- How to take mint cuttings
- How to take cuttings from cacti and succulents
- How to take basal cuttings from dahlias
- How to take root cuttings
- How to grow and care for streptocarpus
Follow our step-by-step guide to taking summer cuttings, below.
You Will Need
- 10cm pot
- Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
- Hormone rooting powder
- Clear plastic bag
- Watering can with rose attachment
Summer (softwood) cuttings are taken from the current season’s growth. Choose non-flowering side shoots. Use 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.
Mix your compost with equal parts of perlite to make it more aerated. You can also use horticultural grit, or cuttings compost. This can encourage quicker rooting.
Although not essential for easy-to-root plants, dipping the base of the cutting into rooting powder will help promote root development. Carefully tap off the excess powder after dipping.
Fill a 10cm pot with your compost mix. Insert the base of the cutting into the pot of compost. If you have a 10cm pot you should be able to fit three or four cuttings in it. Try to position cuttings so that their leaves don’t touch.
Water the cuttings using a watering can fitted with a rose and allow the excess to drain and the foliage to dry.
Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag held in place with a rubber band or similar around the pot, to keep the compost moist. Place 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.
Remove the polythene bag once a day and shake out excess water to prevent conditions becoming too humid inside.