How to take a cutting


Spring is here and gardens are beginning to explode with colour and smells all over the place. Don’t feel bad if you’re getting plant envy when you look at your neighbours gardens, it’s understandable, but apart from stealing their plant altogether, what other ways are there to get some of that awesome flower action? Take a cutting! Read on for our quick step by step guide to how to take a cutting.

Step 1. Get it together.
Things you will need to take a cutting:

  • A happy healthy donor plant.
    • Make sure the plant you’re taking a cutting from is healthy and stress free. This is going to be a pretty stressful time for this little fella, so you want to make sure it’s in tip top health to start with. Plants with obvious damage from pest and disease, or that are clearly unhappy probably wont work to well.
  • Secatuers/loppers/snips.
    • You obviously need something to cut the plant with, but you especially want them to be sharp and clean. This will make a clean cut which limits the chances of nasty stuff getting in.
  • A growing medium.
    • You’ll need something to put your cutting into. This can be soil, sand, gravel, potting mix or water.
      Whatever your plant is will determine what medium you need.  A quick google search will help you out there.
  • Hormone.
    • Rooting hormone isn’t a necessity, but it will be really helpful. You can get powder or gel, and different strengths. Again, this depends on the plant. If you can’t get your hands on any hormone, you can get away with using plain old honey. It’s not foolproof, and isn’t a sure thing, but it will do a better job than nothing.

talee di rosmarino

Image from page 294 of “Gleanings from French gardens: comprising an account of such features of French horticulture as are most worthy of adoption in British gardens” (1868)


Step 2. Make the cut.

When you’ve got everything ready to go, its time to grab a branch or sucker and make the cut. This is the really important part of the whole process.
Select a length of the plant around about 10cm long (give or take a few cm) and make the cut at a 45 degree angle so it’s got a sharp tip. When you’ve got your length, you’ll need to cut off a the bulk of the lower leaves closer to the cut, or is there’s not many leaves to start with, cut a few of the larger ones in half.
The reason we defoliate the plant is to reduce the transpiration (water loss) occurring in the leaves. Remember, this is literally a stick with no root system, so we really need to conserve all the moisture we can, but we also need to leave some foliage to allow for photosynthesis and for the plant to survive.  It’ll  look a bit funny and a bit boring, but you really need to be cruel to be kind with this step.



Step 3. Dip it in.
Just go on and dip that spikey 45 degree angle tip right into your rooting hormone or honey if you’ve got it. You don’t need to slather it on, but a good amount covering the entire cut is about right.

Step 4. Stick it in.
Whether it’s water, soil, sand, gravel, potting mix, etc, you need to put your cutting into this pretty quick smart. The sooner the better. You want to place the cutting so the entire cut section is well covered by the medium. Generally, planting to a few cm above the cut is a good idea as well, as this not only makes sure the cut is covered, it also aids in support and will help the plant from falling over and exposing the cut.

Step 5. Water and maintain.
This can be a tricky one. You need to keep the medium around the cut moist, but not so much that rotting starts to occur. Stick your finger in to see how it feels before you go adding more water.

Obviously, if you’re placing it in water, this doesn’t apply, but it can be a good idea to refresh the water every so often.

Step 6. Wait and see.
Look, cuttings aren’t a sure fire technique, and at times it can be hit and miss. Sometimes you’ll take a cutting that sets root in a week, sometimes you’ll take some that never become anything more than a stick in the ground. Therefore, it’s a good bet to take a few cuttings and hope for at least 1 to take. After a while, a successful cutting with begin to grow new leaves and you should be able to see roots. If nothing seems to be happening, cut your losses, and try again.



Good luck!

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