Herb cuttings

RobRoyOH5(z5 OH)April 14, 2005

We sell potted herbs. I'd like to try taking cuttings, especially of the slower growing sorts like thymes and rosemaries. Any suggestions about how to do it? Root in water, sand or soil? How long should the slip be? Has anyone had success with this?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

Root in cuttings in sand or very sandy potting mix. You really shouldn't make cuttings too long or they tend to be hard to support during the rooting process, about 6" would be the maximum, trim away much of the leaf growth so that the slip isn't trying to provide moisture to a large mass before it even has roots.

Some people lightly scrape one side of the cutting, near the base, these injured parts tend to root better in some cases.

Dip the bottom part of the cutting into rooting hormone, either in powdered or liquid form, and tap the excess off. Insert the cutting 1/3 to 1/2 way into your pot of growing medium at a slight angle. Half perlite and half-potting soil is good, or half-potting soil and half sand.

Some people enclose the pot in a plastic bag and tie at the top to support a high humidity level. The pot should not be in direct sunlight. I have a place out of the wind on the north side of the house, where it gets some light, but no direct sun.

After a month, check for root growth by lightly pulling on the cutting. If it resists, that should mean there are roots. Gently lift out the new plant and re-pot. Let it gradually get used to its new environment by setting it out for a short time, then lengthening that time each day.

I've also had good luck layering thyme. Using a well developed plant, just mound soil around the base up to several inches deep, covering as many stems as you want to root. Within a few weeks, each branch will have begun to root where covered, and can be divided and potted up individually. The mother plant can regenerate more, or be left to recover from the trimming.

Look at the stems on your rosemary carefully. Towards the lower ends of the branches, you might see some small knobbly growths coming out. These are adventitious roots- dormant, but ready to grow. Pieces of rosemary with these root VERY easily, sometimes just sticking them in garden soil during a rainy spell is sufficient. You may be able to do layering on a rosemary, if the plant has a base-branching form, like described for the thyme.

good luck,
PS, the herb forum has experts far more experienced than me!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 9:22PM
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victorias_garden(7 Atlanta)

Rosemary cuttings will root in two weeks. I use 6"-8" new-growth/stem-tip cuttings and strip the leaves from the bottom half of the stems. Using a mix of 50/50 peat moss & vermiculite (which I've watered and kept moist for a couple of days), I stick the cuttings to the depth of the denuded stems. I stick these in flats outside and I water twice a day for two weeks. I have a nearly 100% success rate this way. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 8:05AM
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RobRoyOH5(z5 OH)

Thanks for the extremely helpful advice! I've just taken some cuttings of rosemary , following the suggestions given. I put the dish under my glass dome cover for a cake plate - it won't sag down onto the sprigs. If this works, I'll try on a larger scale.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 12:59PM
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Sgarden(z5 MI)

I was thinking of doing this too and adding Rosemary to my offerings at the market eventually. As far as starting cuttings in sand, i've seen occassionally to use specifically "builders sand." I have lots of sand from my son's sand box I'd like to use. Anyone know if play sand is just as good? One thought I had was that it might not hold as much water as builder's sand.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 9:05PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

The builder's sand is more coarse and sharp-grained. The play sand is softer and will probably not have as good a drainage.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 10:30PM
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