Easy - How to Root Softwood Cuttings
How to Propagate Plants by Softwood Cutting
IÂve have had a lot of success rooting softwood cuttings of plants that donÂt produce much or any seed. This is my humble process.
IÂve tried this method on a number of different plant species including tropical houseplants. On some it works great and others not so good or not at all. The fun part is experimenting!
The basic idea is to keep the stem of the cutting alive until a callous and roots can form. This is called asexual propagation (ÂaÂ means without) or cloning, as apposed to sexual propagation which is by seed. And "softwood" means this yearÂs growth that hasnÂt toughened to hard or semi-hardwood yet.
There are many methods and types of equipment you can use. However, this is the method I use and itÂs currently working well for my plant needs.
Points to keep in mind before you start:
1) Use a sharp knife or pruning shears. Ones that wonÂt crush the end the roots will be generated from. A clean cut will preserve the cells close to the surface.
2) Clean your knife or shears with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol or water and bleach (10:1), before you start to make cuttings. Fungus and bacteria can rot a cutting before it has a chance to form roots.
3) ItÂs best to take cuttings during a time of year when the plant is in full growth mode, usually early to mid-summer. Actually any time of year other than full dormancy is OK, but the more vigorous itÂs growing at the time of cutting the higher percentage of success youÂll have. Again experiment, some plants will root fine from late September cuttings kept under grow lights.
4) Take healthy cuttings, strong, disease and insect damage free.
5) The leaf or leaves left on the cutting stem will continue to provide moisture and energy "juice" until roots have formed. So you have to cut off all the extra leaves and flower buds and only leave one or two leaves at the top. Some plants have large leaves compared to their stem diameter and you can cut them in half width wise.
6) Cutting length varies from plant to plant. Most will grow roots from 3 to 4 inch cuttings. Some need 6 inches and others are so hardy only an inch stem and one half of a mature leaf are required.
7) The bottom of the stems will rot if they are wet. So the idea is to lightly mist the leaves and keep the air in the seed tray and dome moist without getting the perlite mix and stems wet.
8) When taking cutting they should be taken quickly and not allowed to dry out, keep moist and out of the sun.
9) The cuttings need bright light but not direct sun
- The rooting hormone has a shelf life and should not be contaminated, keep cool and dry and out of direct sun. Ideally, it will last a couple of years.
- Go to the library. IÂve found most if not all of this information from library books and "Not the Internet". One of my favourite books is "Secrets of Plant Propagation" by Lewis Hill.
- Lastly, Experiment. The best...