The Best Plants for Growing from Cuttings

While it might seem intuitive to go out and get seeds to plant flowers, shrubs, vegetables, and other garden flora, there are other ways to increase your garden output and continue to propagate your favorites. In fact, growing from cuttings can be quite rewarding, offering you new plants faster, as well as ensuring that you have the same species you started with.

Of course, not all plants are great to use when you want to grow from shrub cuttings, and a number of plants require specific types of cuttings if you want to have any success. You’ll need specific tools to pull it off as well. But don’t let any of that discourage you since there are tons of different types of plants from which you can take different types of cuttings and have great success, even as a beginner.

Why Take a Cutting

Cutting Plants

Why would you want to take a cutting from an existing plant when there are so many variables involved? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply get the seeds and start fresh? In some cases, that may be the easier solution, but not necessarily the right one, depending on the circumstances. Consider that there are a number of reasons you might want to decide to take a cutting from an existing plant instead.

It’s cheaper

Cutting Plants

You don’t have to buy seeds, and you don’t have to worry that those seeds aren’t fertile, which would mean buying more seeds. If you take a cutting from an existing plant that is doing well, you’re more likely to have good results at a lower cost.

You can fill out space

Fill out

If you’re like to run hedges around your fence line or fill in a flower bed, you can cultivate the entire growth from a couple of plants, simply by taking cuttings and replanting them.

Sharing is caring

Caring is Sharing

If you like something your neighbor has or vice versa, it can be difficult to find the exact species and have the exact same results from seeds. Rather, sharing a cutting between the two of you assures you get the same plant and similar results based on the health of the plant.

Pick your color

Pick A Color

Consider that there are some colors in flowers that aren’t common. You can propagate these through cuttings rather than hoping for the best with seeds.

You can take it with you

Final

If you’re moving, taking cuttings from your plants means you can recreate your beautiful garden at your new home.

They make great gifts – or fundraisers

Gift or Fundraising

If you’re trying to do either, planting a cutting from your existing stock is a free and easy way to make money through a fundraiser or offer a thoughtful gift that will continue to grow and keep on giving.

Cuttings can be a blessing when it comes to making sure you have exactly what you want in your garden. It’s just a matter of having the right tools for the job.

Tools Required to Take a Cutting

Knives            raniaco-power-pruning-shears            Small Potting Containers            Potting Mix Sand

There are specific types of cuttings you want to take from various types of plants, but it’s good to be prepared with the right tools for any cutting you take and any need for planting afterward. None of the supplies are at all unusual for a gardener to have, so you likely already have almost everything you need anyway. Consider this list of supplies that will assure you aren’t running to the nearest lawn and garden store in a panic after you’ve already started the process.

  • Sharp knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Small potting containers
  • Potting mix, sand, perlite, peat moss, or vermiculite
  • Pencil
  • Label of some kind
  • Water
  • Gloves (in case you’re working with thorny plants)

With this complete set of tools and supplies, you’ll be able to work with almost any plant – shrub, flower, or other – to take a cutting and start propagating with that cutting.

Different Types of Cuttings

pruning-a-fruit-tree

Different cuttings work better for different types of plants, so it’s important to understand what sorts of cuttings you can make for what category of plant. Here are some of the cuttings you can work with to propagate existing plants.

Softwood Cuttings

In the spring and early summer, there is a lot of new, fresh growth on your plants as they adjust to the wakening world and start to thrive in warmer temperatures with plenty of sun and rain. Softwood cuttings are taken this time of year from this new growth. But be sure to know the many plants suitable for softwood cuttings first.

Greenwood Cuttings

Some cuttings root better when they are taken from young plants, still in their first year of development. These are called greenwood cuttings and are usually made in early or mid-summer.

Semi-ripe cuttings

It’s important to know the strength and durability of a plant before taking a cutting, especially since some require a little more maturity in order for cuttings to work well. These are called semi-ripe cuttings, and you’ll want to take them later in the season, usually sometime between midsummer and early fall.

Hardwood Cuttings

When trees and other hardwood plants, like some shrubs, go dormant, it might be the best time to take your cuttings. This typically happens in the late fall or winter months and can produce great results for your cuttings when you plant them to root.

While cuttings are definitely the best solution for easy propagation, you should also consider collecting the seeds from your various plants when possible. You can save them for a later date, another location, or a friend if you want. However, taking the cutting is actually easier than trying to collect seeds in most cases and is a preferable way to expand your fruitfulness quickly.

Parts to Cut for Best Results

Cutting Stem

Aside from the type of cutting you take, the location of the cutting is viable to the success of propagation. Different types of plants need to grow from cuttings taken from various parts of the donor plant in order to thrive.

Tip cutting

Find a node on the top of the plant, above which is at least 6 to 8 inches of growth. Cut below the node and plant. This is a good option for herbs.

Basal cutting

Locate a side branch of your plant that is at least 6 to 10 inches long. Cut as close to the stem as possible and plant. This is a common choice since it works for a vast number of species and plant types.

Stem Sections

Especially for cane forming plants, you can use sections of a stem to create multiple cuttings. Identify a 4 to a 6-inch section with multiple nodes for each, and cut them. Immediately mark the bottom with some sort of designation, since this is the end you want to plant and can look exactly the same as the top.

Heel cuttings

This is similar to a basal cutting but with a little bit of a raw edge to it. Rather than cutting branches from the stem, they are ripped from the stem so that they still have a small base of stem attached, known as the heel. This is a necessity for some plants, like certain shrubs, in order for them to root.

Root sections

For some plants, a stem or branch isn’t quite plausible, and with these, you’ll want to dig up a few roots. Divide the roots into several sections for multiple planting options. This should be done for certain trees and shrubs, and it should be completed in the dormant season to avoid harm to the parent plant.

Leaf Cuttings

These are common, especially among succulents. Simply remove whole leaves from theseplants to root into a new planter for best results.

Depending on the type of plant you have, you’ll not only want to determine the type of cutting you’re going to take but also when you’ll be taking it and from what part of the plant. Once you’ve got that under control and you have your tools assembled, you’re ready to make the cutting.

How to Take a Cutting

The exact method of dealing with cuttings varies, depending on the type of cutting you’re going to take and the location from which you’ll be taking it. For example, with a leaf cutting, you’ll simply take your shears or knife and cut the leaf off at its connection. However, stem and root sections take more precise methods of measuring and cutting.

Pruning

  1. Select a part of the shrub or plant that is healthy to cut. Identify the correct length (3 to 6 inches for stems and roots, or 6-10 inches for basal and tips).
  2. Make sure your tool – shears or knife – is sharp, since you want to make a clean, sharp cut. If you mash the end where you’re cutting, it is going to be more difficult to get that end to take root in a new potting, meaning you’ll have greater difficulty cultivating the new plant for propagation.
  3. For stems, basal cuttings, and heel cuttings remove the lower leaves attached to the branch or stem. You’ll want the bottom of this new ‘stem’ to be bare for insertion into the new potting zone. You can leave foliage above, for looks or simply to keep it intact. That’s your preference.
  4. Dip the bared ‘stem’ you’ve created into your rooting hormones. This won’t affect your plant negatively; it will simply help the new cutting take root faster, so it will be stronger and healthier.
  5. Now it’s time to plant. Fill your potting area with moist soil or other potting material listed in the supplies above. Bury the planting end of your cutting about 1 to 1-1/2 inches in the potting mix. You’ll want to keep most of your cuttings in a humid environment, so if it’s a raging summer drought outside, find an indoor location for the cuttings until they start to take root. You might even want to loosely wrap the cutting in clear plastic to help hold in moisture for the first few days (however, you’ll want to open this covering daily to promote air circulation as well). Note that a great number of cuttings can also be propagated in water, with roots growing directly into the water. However, for many plants, this produces weaker roots than those buried, so it isn’t the recommended means of growing cuttings for most plants.
  6. Be patient. Not all plants take root at the same rate, so if you’re doing several different types of cuttings and several different plants, you’re going to see varying results. Remember to remain patient so that all of them have a chance to grow and thrive. Simply take appropriate care of the cuttings as they begin to flourish so you have the best results. Check for roots in 2 weeks. Several will be well on their way, while some plants take a month or more. When you finally have solid, well-established roots, you can report or place in your yard or garden.

Care of the Cutting

Like all growing things, cultivating your cuttings comes with care instructions. You’ll need to assure proper care for the cuttings, especially in the first few days and weeks, to achieve the results you want and be able to transfer your plants to your yard or garden for further growth.

Growing from cutting

 

Keep your cuttings moist

That doesn’t mean flood them but assure that the soil or other potting material stays moist. Also,  allow plenty of drainage since you don’t want the roots to get mushy and rot in this moist environment. You can also mist the upper parts of the cutting in order to keep it from wilting.

Warmer environments lead to faster root growth

Therefore, providing ample warmth can really help your cuttings thrive faster. Consider putting a heating pad under the planters in which you’ve put your cuttings to encourage the roots to grow faster.

Using the rooting hormones mentioned isn’t essential, but it can speed up the success of your cutting propagation, stimulating faster root growth. In turn, you can have stronger plants grow more quickly and ready to be transferred to their more permanent location outside. Of course, when it comes to actually getting this together, you want to make sure you have the right sorts of plants and know what parts to cut and when in order to assure you’ve created a successful venture.

Which Plants and What Part?

So many different types of plants can be cultivated from cuttings, but you need to learn which ones should be cut during what time of year and from what part of the plant. There are also some options that are easier than others, leading them to be preferred by newcomers to the idea of growing from cuttings. Let’s start with suggested plants that can be easily taken from the different sections of the parent donor.

Stem Cuttings

  • Red-hot cattail
  • Begonias
  • Grape ivy
  • Dracaena
  • Hedera (ivy)
  • Baby’s tears (Helxine)
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Nephthytis
  • Poinsettia

Tip Cuttings

  • African violets
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Shrimp plant
  • Schefflera
  • Christmas cactus
  • Citrus
  • Coleus
  • Jade plant
  • Croton
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Ficus elastica (rubber plant)
  • Weeping fig
  • Fittonia
  • Geranium
  • Impatiens
  • Maranta (prayer plant)
  • Monstera
  • Aluminum plant
  • Podocarpus
  • Selaginella (resurrection plant)

Root Cuttings

  • African violet
  • Begonias
  • Cissus
  • Coleus
  • Cordyline terminalis (ti plant)
  • Creeping fig
  • Impatiens
  • Fiddle leaf
  • Swedish ivy
  • Scindapsus
  • Syngonium (tri-leaf wonder)
  • Tradescantia (wandering Jew)
  • Zygocactus

Leaf Cuttings

  • Begonia rex
  • Cactus
  • Jade plant (Crassula)
  • Kalanchoe
  • Peperomia
  • Sansevieria
  • Sedum

If you’re looking for the different types of cuttings, such as softwood cuttings, based on the time of year these cuttings should be taken, here’s another list for you. These are some of the easiest options for each type of cutting that can get you started on your journey with a beginner’s success.

Softwood Cuttings

So many different types of plants can be cultivated from cuttings, but you need to learn which ones should be cut during what time of year and from what part of the plant. There are also some options that are easier than others, leading them to be preferred by newcomers to the idea of growing from cuttings. Let’s start with suggested plants that can be easily taken from the different sections of the parent donor.

Aster

there are nearly 600 species of this flowering plant in North America alone.

Butterfly bush

This is one of the plants most likely to thrive from cuttings.

Chrysanthemum

These are extremely colorful, with options in white, off-white, yellow, bronze, rust, gold, pink,
lavender, purple, red, and burgundy

Hydrangea

While the cutting may not bloom the first year, you can count on lively flowers after that.

Rose

This classic grows easily from cuttings and comes in an endless variety of colors and sizes.

Salvia

These are also naturally diverse, with colors like scarlet, white, salmon, pink, orange, burgundy,
purple, and lavender.

Greenwood Cuttings

Most Greenwood cuttings are taken from plants that don’t have hardwood stems. These are also called herbaceous cuttings by some.

Boxwood

these shrubs do well with cuttings and are known for being light green with compact growth

Dahlia

This diverse plant has over 30 species and 20,000 cultivars, making it a choice for many who want a thriving plant with lots of variety.

Gardenia

These beautiful white flowers add a classic look to your yard and can thrive amidst lots of shrubs so that they pop against the greenery.

Semi-Ripe Cuttings

Remember that these cuttings need to be more mature than some of those we’ve discussed above but if you’re patient to wait until they’re of proper age, they can flourish from cuttings.

Azalea

when you look at various yards, these are probably some of the most common flowering plants you’ll see since they are quite popular and easy to grow from cuttings

Camellia

the flowers are large and bright, making them preferable for a showy area of a garden or yard

Honeysuckle

because it’s a beautiful ornament shrub and smells good, many people like to propagate this particular bush around their fences or the front of their homes

Hardwood Cuttings

Plants such as climbers (vines), trees, deciduous shrubs, and fruits are considered to be hardwoods and are best cut during the dormant season.

Angel’s Trumpet

these white, trumpet-shaped flowers grow on vines and are popular for eaves and other hanging
locations within your yard or garden. There are some plants that fit more than one category and can thrive from different types of cuttings, such as geraniums, lavender, Veronica, rosemary, and jade plants. These can be cut at multiple times of the year and just depends on your availability to care for the cuttings properly.

Additional Tip

Helpful Tips

Considering the amount of work you put into ensuring that your cuttings are properly taken and potted, it might be good to consider a few extra things you’ll want to keep in mind as you’re growing these lovely new plants that you’ve taken from the mother plant. After all, the more tips and tricks you use, the more likely you are to have great success if propagating your plants.

Make sure your cuttings get plenty of light. Low light levels can lead to very slow root growth, and that’s the last thing you want. The idea is to stimulate the roots to grow fast and strong. At the same time, too much intense sunlight can add too much stress to the plants and actually cause them to burn, which leads to poor plant health. Plenty of diffused sunlight is the key to growing the roots quickly while maintaining the overall health of your cutting.

Humidity is essential to helping your new plants stay healthy during the period in which they are developing roots. Remember, because there are no roots, there is no way for these cuttings to draw in water from the soil. Therefore, they need the additional external moisture to help thrive and work to grow the roots that will soon be the source of moisture for them. At the same time, if you’re using plastic to help maintain that humid environment, you need to assure proper ventilation in order to maintain a healthy plant that doesn’t contract diseases from the conditions.

Your plants need to be warm but not burning up. A temperature of around 70 degrees will keep them warm enough to avoid a chill freezing or killing them, as well as encourage faster root growth, without causing them to wilt from too much heat. Remember that underground heat is not the same as ambient temperature, and the soil is what needs to be warm. Using a heating pad on a low setting under your planters can be a great way to assure the rooted area is staying warm enough to help your plants grow and take root in the soil.

The Big Picture

Taking cuttings from mother plants can really increase your chances of creating a beautiful, flourishing yard and garden without the hassle and expense of finding and purchasing the right seeds to match what you already have. You can also grow excellent gifts and charity items from cuttings, offer one to your covetous neighbor or ask for one of them to try your hand at something new. Almost every plant has a way to grow from a cutting, and it’s just a matter of mastering when and where to make that cut so you can successfully propagate your favorite plants throughout your yard and garden space.

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