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99% cutting success

I would like to share a cutting technique that I have been using for the past two years and which has given me an astonishingly good success rate. It is good for any plant that is susceptible to soft or tip cuttings.

The secret ingredient is sphagnum moss rather than soil. I developed this method after reading that in World War I wounded soldiers were treated with this material if conventional bandages were not available, as it contains natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. 

Conventionally sphagnum moss today is used mainly to grow orchids or germinate carnivorous plant seed such as Darlingtonia. It is not easy to obtain, but any nursery which specializes in these plants will know of a supplier (usually Canada).

Soak the moss in chemical free water. Tap water is no good as it contains chlorine, a known toxin. Push the moss into a container but do not pack it too tightly. Turn the container upside down for a few seconds to allow excess water to drain out. Sphagnum absorbs an astonishing amount. I use drinking glasses as you can see what is going on inside. Very slow cuttings ie. Rhododendron may need the moss to be remoistened periodically.

Take the cutting in the usual way, rinsing well to remove any pathogens, then gently insert into the moss, leaving a small space before the bottom, so it is not standing in any excess water. Cover. I use transparent plastic containers, but you  can also wrap the glass in polythene, so long as it is not in contact with the leaves . Rooting hormone may be used, but I have found, using this method, it is not necessary.

To test whether it has rooted, the time of which may vary from plant to plant, gently pull on the stem. If there is any resistance it is ready but if the stem moves give it a bit longer. When potting on, gently lift the plant out of the container, keeping the moss attached, then plant on as you would do normally. I keep the cover on for a day or two to prevent any possible transplant shock.

This method is not practical for cuttings en masse, but I have found it very valuable when you want a high rate of success. Good luck. Ian

Last edited: 27 August 2017 03:04:55


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 61,554

    That's an increased success rate in around two weeks ... remarkable image 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 20,543

    Sphagnum moss is a protected species now isn't it?   I'm told that using Oasis for flower arranging does well for cuttings as does using willow water.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • InglezinhoInglezinho Posts: 309

    I believe it is a protected species in UK. When you buy it, it is usually dry and from Canada. I don't think there is much danger of us us stripping their peat bogs yet. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 20,543

    That's what people thought in the UK but now we know better.  Doesn't take much to tip the balance and start down the slippery slope to environmental disaster.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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