How do you take a cutting?

KatrinaG(5 IN)June 20, 2005

I keep seeing mention of taking cuttings from other plants to share with others. How do you do this? And how established should a plant be before you try it?

Thanks!

Katrina

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Katrina,

Just snip a 1 to 1 1/2" piece off of the tip of a stem--you usually need very new, tender shoots--strip off all foliage except the top few leaves, and insert it into sterile soil in a SMALL pot. You may want to get some rooting powder to dip it in before you stick it in the soil, but, personally, I don't think it helps all that much. Water it well and don't water again until the soil is mostly dry (but not all the way). Don't keep it totally wet all the time or they may rot. Keep it in bright light, but out of direct sun. Not everything can be propagated by cuttings, and some things that can are easier than others. If you have any mums, try it with them first--they're very easy. Be sure anything you try to root doesn't have any buds or flowers on it--most things in bud and bloom won't root. How long it will take depends on what it is you're trying to root. The roots will come out of the nodes that are in the soil where you took off the lower leaves.

Good luck and have fun experimenting,
Skybird

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 12:23AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Oh my....it's not that simple.
First of all, I can think of nothing but maybe a cactus that would root from a 1 to 1 1/2 inch tip cutting. And I can think of nothing that might root if allowed to almost dry out between waterings.
Most plants vary in the way cuttings are taken. Some need a semi-hard stem and others will root from a soft tip cutting.
The way I root mums is to take 4 inch cuttings in the early spring, cut off all the leaves on the lower 2/3'ds of the stem as well as the growing tip..leaving one pair of leaves ( which really aren't necessary, but that tells me if they are dead and not rooting).....dip the stems in rooting hormone ( yes it does make a difference....besides the hormone, it also contains an antifungicide to help keep the stems from rotting) and then stick the stems into a disposable aluminum pan with holes cut in the bottom, filled with vermiculite or pearlite which has been very well wet. ....place some soda straws in the pan of cuttings and vermiculite amd place the whole thing in a plastic bag.....and hang it in a tree or bush where it gets no direct ray of sunlight. In about 3 weeks 80% of the cuttings will have developed roots.
Also bushes, shrubs and roses can be grown from cuttings. My mother would ask for a rose bloom from a friend and place it in the shade under a canning jar......and it would root. Of course she would cut off the bloom first.
Get a book....they type of cutting needed for each plant varies....some shrubs won't root from a soft wood cutting, nor a hard wood cutting but only from 2nd year stock.
Other things that grow easily from cuttings are sedums, wave petunias pelagaroniums, gypsophilia, various shrubs like eunonomys ( never can spell that!) forsythia, privit and many many more.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 10:02AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Lindac,

When I was a kid my parents had a large mail order mum business selling thousands and thousands of rooted mum cuttings every year. They didn't use aluminum pans or soda straws, and they never, even once, hung them in a tree!

Skybird

P.S. This is the way you spell euonymus.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 12:28PM
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littlekinder(z8 DFW Tx)

KatrinaG, I am pretty new to gardening - only three or four years REALLY into it.... but I can tell you how to do a cutting that's NOT overwhelming (no offense intended at all, Lindac, but a newbie wants to give up after reading your post).

Here's what I know (and it ain't much). If you want to take a cutting of a succulent, like moss rose/purslane/sedum/wandering jew/purple heart, etc., then you don't have to do ANYTHING. These are the plants that have stems/roots that feel like aloe vera plants, and are juicy inside. You LITERALLY just break off a piece and stick it in the ground. Of course, I'm in Texas, zone 8, so that may or may not work for you.

Otherwise, I have had good luck with just about what Skybird said. I do usually take at least a 3 in piece or so - but I put several into the same old terra cotta pot and keep them fairly moist. I don't even own root stimulator. Do take off all but top leaves, because they just cause the cutting to lose too much water through transpiration.

This usually works on plants that propagate by cuttings. Some don't. I don't even bother to try except on ones that are pretty hardy.

You can find out which ones root well from cuttings by googling info on the plant. I've got a mess of shrimp plants that I grew this winter - started with two cuttings, and when they got tall took cuttings from those... etc. Have about 10 ready to go in the ground.

I have purslane reseeding in a SANDBOX where I stuck broken random pieces.

It's really, really fun when you succeed at this!!!!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 1:03PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Littlekinder, I'd say you know a whole lot! Do you visit the Texas Forum? There's a lot of real, down-home friendly folks on that one! One of my best friends lives in Houston.

Katrina, I should have recommended that you use a groundcover sedum the first time you try it. As Littlekinder says, they're very, very easy and you can't fail if you start with something like that. And when you get into other things, don't feel too bad when some of them don't root. It's not you! Some things are just hard to root. The fun is in the learning--and in watching the new plants grow when it DOES work.

Enjoy your successes,
Skybird

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 1:42PM
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ellieandethansmom(7)

Hi Katrina--
I was a newbie last year with cuttings, and I've learned ALOT in that time. I went from doing what skybird recommended (sticking cuttings without hormones in a mix) to Linda's (with hormone and covers) and now I have my own propogation system that I use indoors with propogation mats, hormones, covers and floro lights.

Start off with some easy things like succulents and you can work your way up to things like nepata, salvias and tons of other perennials. Expect alot of failures and rotting in the beginning---but once you get some to root, it is the best feeling. Maybe it changes by climates but I HAVE to keep a cover on my cuttings to keep the humidity high, and slowly, after they have rooted, I open up the bag to let more fresh air in (I have killed many by just taking them out of the bag, after rooting, and putting them right into the ground)

I definately favor the hormone powder, really cheap and easy to find. I get mine at walmart.

I'd recommend checking out the plant propogation forum---LOTS of helpful folks and too much info to shake a stick at.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 2:17PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Skybird, you perhaps were quite young when your parents ran the mum business.
Very soft tip cuttings will have a huge dieback rate....so likely the cuttings were more in the 4 inch range....and I recommended covering with plastic and hanging the whole thing in a shady place to eliminate the necessity of frequent misting during the first week the cuttings are in place....which would not be a problem with a commercial operation.
Perhaps your parents used a fungicide to prevent disease in the clippings?
I also recommend the plant propogation forum....
There are amazingly knowlegable people hanging around these forums, people who are professionals, students of botany and scientists as well as just folks with lots of experience and knowledge.
Check the link below.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: plant propogation

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 3:38PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Lindac,

I was very young. I was 18.

We also had a retail perennial business and by the time I was about 10 I was waiting on customers.

Skybird

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 5:50PM
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AgastacheMan(z7 CA)

wow, a garden fight.....yikes...Skybird, I do believe you know things, but tip cuttings with too soft of tissue will rot, or eventually become botrytis ridden. I agree with LindaC with this one. Cuttings come in all forms, sizes, and certain rules whether it be a internodal, stripped, heel cut, or stem cuttings. Humidity, soil temp, seasonal and climatic conditions, pest/disease/viral problems, and conditional work all effects how, when, why, and what to do when you take a cutting. A great book for the beginner/experienced gardener is the Royal Horticulutral Society Book of Plant Propagation. Pictures, lots of info, and CORRECT cutting and propagation techniques. I have raised soft/hard tissue perennials and shrubs for over 15 years, as well as micro-propagation/tissue culture being half of my daily propagating chores. Cuttings can be very addictive, fun, and very rewarding if they are done right, and cared with the appropriate tools and knowledge.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 6:35PM
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Padinka(z7 Central AL)

Here's a link that will tell you about the different types of cutting; root, stem, leaf, softwood vs hardwood. But you have to research what type of cutting is appropriate for a certain type of plant. Different plants root with different methods.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ohio State Website

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 9:44PM
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Padinka(z7 Central AL)

Here's a link to a propagation database. It will tell you what kind of cuttings to take for each plant listed. It doesn't contain common names.

Here is a link that might be useful: University of California

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 9:51PM
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KatrinaG(5 IN)

Thank you all for the info. I'm really excited to start trying this. I bought some beautiful flowers and groundcover this year, stuff that I've never heard of, and I want to be able to share some of it with my friends. Plus maybe share some of the pretty stuff they have! *grin*

One further question: can I take cuttings off young plants? Or should I let them get more established first?

Sorry about all the controversy...I certainly never meant to start a disagreement here. :(

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 8:02AM
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ellieandethansmom(7)

Katrina, sure you can take it off young plants! I have gotten many cuttings from just pinching out my seedlings.

Have fun, this is my favorite part of gardening--making new plants from cuttings!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 10:26AM
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KatrinaG(5 IN)

Now that's very exciting. If some of the stuff turns out half as pretty as what it looks like online, I want to "spread the joy". Like my Gaillardia Fanfare, which are each very enthusiastically putting one little flower out at the moment (I just planted them a week ago).

Thanks again everyone!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 11:36AM
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littlekinder(z8 DFW Tx)

Yes, Skybird - LOOOVE the Texas Forum. They are my main source of info since Texas has so many unique gardening situations. The folks are great!

I didn't mention the Propagation Forum because they usually seem to be soooo advanced for me.

I didn't mean to imply root stimulator was no good. I've only been gardening long enough to take cuttings from the "never fail" category - when I get braver I will "branch" out (ha ha) and then I'll surely use stimulator. Maybe this winter I'll do cuttings of all my annual herbs. But I say that every summer! Oh well!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 2:48PM
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KatrinaG(5 IN)

Okay, I bought the rooting powder and some small pots. Now I'm ready to start taking cuttings. Wish me luck!! :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 3:35PM
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KatrinaG(5 IN)

Oops...forgot the straws. I want to try both the plastic bag and the terra cotta pot methods. Guess I'll have to make a trip to McDonalds or someplace to get some! :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 4:51PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

You can use pencils, sticks or about anything else that will stick into the planting medium and keep the plastic from touching the cuttings.
If you enclose your cuttings in a plastic bag make sure it gets no direct sunlight or the cuttings will steam.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 6:36PM
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mrs_emily(8 Louisiana)

Wow, my first thread to read since joining and I've learned so much already. I, too, have just started experimenting with cuttings (can't wait to try the rose thing under the mason jar). I'm simply using pill bottles and root hormone, but didn't realize I needed to place them in a plastic bag. Do I leave it slightly open or tightly sealed at first?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 6:57PM
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lisa455(z9 LA)

I don't place plastic bags over them. I don't think it is necessary with the humidity we have in Louisiana. It might actually be too hot in the bags here. I keep the potting soil moist, use rooting hormone and put three to four 4 inch cuttings in each pot. I use the plastic pots that the 4 inch annuals come in. I put the pots in a shallow under the bed storage plastic bin with about a half an inch of water on my back porch where it is sunny but not in direct sunlight. The soil stays moist but not soggy. I have had very good success with azaleas, camellias, roses, lantana and verbena. I usually root in the spring or fall.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 10:30PM
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mrs_emily(8 Louisiana)

Well this thread is probably exhausted, but I'm so excited over the success of my cuttings thus far, I just had to write about it. I started 40 different cuttings on Friday, July 1st. On Tuesday, July 5th, I already had new growth on the Gardenia cuttings. What I did was cut some cheap plastic cups down to half their height and make two small slits in the bottom for drainage. Then I used soil from my own yard and amended it with peat moss. I got cuttings about 5" long from several different varieties of plants, Hibiscus, Gardenia, roses, rosemary, 4 colors of crape myrtles, pomegranate and bay leaf tree. I dipped each in water and then in root hormone that I purchased from Wal-Mart. I added the soil to the cups and wet it. Then I placed the cuttings into the soil after making holes with my finger. There was just enough soil in each cup to cover the bottom 2 or 2.5" of the cuttings. Then I placed all the cups in trays and laid them under my house in the cool shade. I kept them moist, but not too wet. In only 4 days time, I have new growth!! It is easy and very economical.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 4:53AM
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