If you are a gardener, you most likely have some favorite plants which grow well and consistently appear appealing. With just a little effort, you can produce more of those plants by taking and rooting stem cuttings, a way that ensures new plants are equal to and as genetically mature as the parent plant. It’s relatively simple to root new plants from cuttings, but taking a little bit of extra care will help ensure success. You will need to be patient, however, because the time it takes to produce new roots may be a few weeks to several months, based on the kind of plant.
When to Cut
To make certain that a cutting origins as swiftly as possible, it’s important to bring it during the right region of the season, which may vary with the kind of plant. As an example, take a cutting from a woody stem onto a tree or shrub during a frost-free time while the plant’s dormant, generally just after leaves fall in autumn or just before buds open in early spring; this woody cutting might require several months to root. You could also take a cutting from delicate, green new growth on a tree or shrub — known as a softwood cutting — in spring or early summer, and expect to see roots by autumn. To get non-woody perennials or for annuals, have a cutting at any time during the growing season; origins should develop from this herbaceous cutting within several weeks.
Earning the Cutting
You can promote good rooting by taking cuttings in early hours, when weather is cool and the plant also has had the entire night to take water up while not losing water through evaporation. Only take cuttings from healthy plants and also pick young stems that grew during the past or current season. Cut just below a leaf joint, or node, taking a 4- to 6-inch-long piece of stem which does not have flower buds. Use sharp shears or a pruning knife, disinfecting the sword by wiping it from rubbing alcohol between cuts to avoid spreading plant diseases. Remove leaves from the base of the cutting to minimize loss of water during the rooting procedure; if the plant has large leaves, you can further reduce water loss by cutting leftover leaves in half. If you can’t plant cuttings immediately, keep them cool and moist in a dark plastic bag, refrigerating them if the wait is more than an hour or two.
Placing Cuttings in Medium
Once you have cuttings, you can help accelerate rooting by dipping the cut end of each one in a powdered rooting hormone product, available at nurseries and garden centers. Make certain you don’t contaminate your supply of the hormone by placing some in a separate container before you use it, and discard any unused item out of this container. You can root cuttings in sand, or you can mix equal parts of peat and perlite and utilize this for rooting. In either case, moisten your mixture well and press it firmly to flats or pots. Insert each cutting to the mixture about 1 or 2 inches deep, ensuring that only leafless parts are under the surface. Orient the cutting so that some other leaf buds appear upwards. Keep the medium moist and cover the container with plastic to boost humidity, which also assists new roots form fast.
Speeding the Process
Roots form most rapidly on cuttings when they’re kept in a warm environment; a temperature of approximately 70 degree Fahrenheit is ideal. You can maintain this temperature by setting the container with cuttings on a heat mat designed for rooting, which can be found at most nurseries or garden centers. Spraying the portion of the cuttings that extends above the medium with an anti-desiccant spray may also hasten rooting, because the waxy fluid helps avoid water loss from leaves and stalks. Anti-desiccant sprays are available at garden stores in a ready-to-use form. Keep the cuttings in bright, indirect light, moistening the medium whenever the top feels dry to the touch. Cuttings have rooted when you tug gently on the stem and also feel small resistance or whenever you see new growth.