plants by cuttings
Many plants can be increased from stem cuttings,
which can be of softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood.
Softwood cuttings are immature shoot tips, and
used for pelargoniums,
and many perennials.
Semi-hardwood cuttings are firmer
than those of softwood and less mature than hardwood
cuttings and are suitable for most evergreens,
heathers and conifers.
As the name suggests, hardwood
cuttings are hard, woody sections of vigorous
stems that have just completed their first season’s
growth, and are generally used to increase deciduous
trees and shrubs.
Take Softwood cuttings early in the year while
growth is still young and soft.
Take 2-3in long
sections from the tips of the stems of shrubs
and alpines, or young growth from the base of
Carefully remove any lower leaves
which would be buried and rot, and then cut cleanly
across the stem, just below a leaf joint, with
a sharp knife.
Soak the cuttings in benomyl, a
chemical fungicide, before inserting them in pots
or boxes of seed compost (equal parts by volume
of sand and peat).
Firm them in and water gently.
Keep at a temperature of about 13°C (55°F)
and shade them from direct sunlight.
If you use
a heated propagator keep the top on and the ventilators
Stand the pots on a shady windowsill,
cover with a plastic bag, but make sure hat the
bag is not in contact with the cuttings.
the compost and foliage moist, but not wet.
are taken in mid to late summer.
Cut them 3-4in
long, just below a node – a stem joint from
where leaves, buds and side shoots arise, and
remove the lower leaves.
Cuttings of heathers
need to be only 1-2in long.
Root them in a mixture
of half peat and half sand in a cold frame.
are taken in late autumn
or early winter.
shoots from the current year’s growth, which
should feel woody to the touch and are about the
thickness of a pencil.
Cut pieces 8-9in long,
straight across just above a bud at the top, and
at an angle just below a bud at the bottom.
this means you can distinguish top and bottom
of the cutting and also have a leading bud when
Dig a V-shaped trench about 5in
deep in a well-drained, sheltered position in
the garden and put a layer of sand in the bottom.
Stand the cuttings on the sand so that the lower
half or two-thirds is below ground, and they lie
about 2-3i apart.
Replace the soil and firm with
The cuttings will be ready for lifting
and replanting in about a year’s time.
consist of a leaf and a short section of stem
with a healthy bud in the angle between the leaf
and the stem.
They are particularly suitable for
propagating camellias and some clematis.
In the late summer,
take cuttings from semi-hardwood stems.
Make one cut just above a bud in a leaf
axil and the other about ¾ - 1 ½
in below the bud.
Dip the lower end of the cuttings
in hormone rooting powder and insert them in a
pot filled with gritty compost.
Each bud should
just make contact with the compost.
Keep the cuttings
at 16-18°C (61-64°F) and protect from
The following types of cutting are planted in
the same way:
HEEL CUTTING – A hardwood
or semi-hardwood cutting which retains a small
part of the main stem or bark.
NODAL CUTTING – A stem
cutting taken immediately below a node (bud point).
INTERNODAL CUTTING – A
stem cutting severed between two nodes or buds.
BASAL CUTTING – A non-flowering
shoot taken from the base of the plant or at just
below ground level.
ROOT CUTTINGS – Plants
which have thick, fleshy or wiry roots, such as
oriental poppies, romneyas, phloxes,
can be propagated by root cuttings, from autumn
to early spring.
You can either lift the plants
and take off some of the roots, or dig down and
remove a length of root.
Take pieces about the thickness of a pencil and
cut them into 2-3in lengths, making a straight
cut at the top and a slanted one at the bottom
(to distinguish which end is which).
cuttings, slant end first, into pots of John Innes
seed compost with the tops level with the compost.
For thinner roots, take slightly longer lengths
– about 3in.
Lay them flat on the compost.
Cover both types of cuttings with ¼ - ½
in of sand and overwinter in a cold frame.
When the cuttings have rooted and show three to
four pairs of leaves, pot them up singly, then
plant them out in autumn.