How & When to Take Plant Cuttings | Love The Garden

How and When to Take Cuttings

Hannah Gransden's picture
By Hannah Gransden, Seasonal Pro
Four planted cuttings in the ground

Spring really is a wonderful time to work on your garden, and taking cuttings of your favourite plants in the warmer months in no exception - between late June and early August to be exact. By taking cuttings, whether fuchsias, roses or something entirely different you are able to create new blooms from one singular plant and in the spring plants produce fresh and strong shoots that are perfect for making cuttings. These will then root well in moist compost – it really is that easy and by doing so you can grow your collection and all for free. So how do we do it?

Taking your Cuttings

In preparation we suggest that you water your parent plant well the day before you take your cuttings and that you choose a time when your plant has been in steady health and stable growth having not dried out at any point in the previous fortnight. We advise that you take your cuttings in the morning as this is when the shoots are freshest. Begin by snipping from the parent plant with a sharp knife to a length somewhere between five to ten cms (two to four inches). You are looking to cut somewhere in the middle where the stem is neither too hard nor soft. Try to make a straight cut and choose non-flowering side shoots. By cutting straight you are less likely to suffer with bacterial infection as you could with an angled cut. Also, but cutting straight calluses form at a faster speed and thus reduce the likeliness of potential infection mentioned. Success really is in the small details.  In terms of your cutting tool, pruners or a specialist knife are the best options for a clean and crisp cut.

Taking cuttings off of a potted plant

Image credit: Out of my Shed

Planting your Cuttings

Now to plant your cutting you will need to fill a suitable pot with compost, level out and firm down. It is a good idea to remove the lowest set of leaves as they will likely rot when placed in new soil. Insert your cuttings around the outside edges of the pot in a similar medium which matching properties. If you have a pot that is around ten cm you should in theory be able to fit around three or four cuttings. Position each cutting so that they do not touch if possible. You can dip your cuttings into rooting hormone to promote root development, just make sure to carefully tap off any remaining liquid or powder residue. Make sure you finish by watering your final cuttings when finished as this creates a seal that forms and settles the new cutting. Tip: By taking multiple cuttings you will increase the likeliness of success.

Cuttings planted in a pot

Image credit: Gardening Knowhow

Feeding and Aftercare

You can feed you plant cuttings regularly however try not to over-feed your cuttings with too many nutrients as this can cause an imbalanced storage of carbohydrates which can result in soft cuttings (cuttings that have low energy levels for rooting). Each plant cutting is different however make your feeding judgements based on how your new plant is growing. Next water your cuttings well and cover with a clear plastic bag to stop the cuttings drying out. Secure with an elastic band and move to a well-lit (but indirect) location.

We advise that you remove the bag daily and tip out excess water to avoid overly humid conditions from setting in. Tip: It is useful to label your pots if you are taking multiple cuttings. Maintain a damp environment until your cutting have successfully rooted. You can check to see if your cutting have rooted by gently tugging on them or by checking the base of the pot for evidence of roots. To grow healthy plants pinch out the plant’s tips when they are around 15 cms (six inches tall) to encourage new branches to grow.

Covering plant cuttings with a plastic bag

Image credit: Eden Makers Blog

Your plants should root in six to eight weeks. At this stage (when the roots appear at the bottom of the pot) transport your plant. Make sure that you transport to a suitable sized pot – too big can cause damage. Wait until the plant’s roots are growing outside the root ball in strong numbers and then make the move. Doing so will make it less difficult to keep constant water levels, make it less likely you over-water and also ensure that the correct amount of nutrients are available. Harvesting will also be easier.

Plants are a reflection of their mother plant and doing your research is the best way to achieve success. The process is simple and very little equipment is needed – and you should now be set to take perfect cuttings all year long.

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