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40 years gardening - foolproof cuttings

If you think you have better way. I've probably tried it. This method is best if you want only a small number of cuttings ( as most gardeners do). The golden rule for all cuttings is to maintain high humidity, whilst not allowing rotting. If you don't have much patience, get your plants from the garden centre and don't read on. This for real gardeners.

There are several ways to take cuttings. The easiest ( though not easy) is from "tip cuttings".
1. Choose your cutting carefully. It must be vigorous new growth. Herbaceous plants work best. Anything woody has a low chance of success. Tree propagation requires a different method, though some very fast growing ones (mostly tropical) can be done this way. The ideal length is about 3 - 4 inches (7-10cms) and the best time is spring, though my method works any time of year, with care. Most cuttings require a cool but not cold temperature, though some from tropical plants can be grown warmer.
2. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting , plus any flower buds that forming. The bast way to do this is just pinch them off with your fingers. If you take cuttings in the summer, it very important to remove all buds. Leave at most about 3-4 leaves.
3. As my rooting base I use small clay pellets, plus, if the cuttings are very small, a small amount of sand, which I soak in water for about an hour. This has a very low rotting co-efficient.
4. Take a small pot, one inch (2 cm) is more than enough,  and fill with the potting mixture, this will give you the right quantity. Tip out most into a smooth jar, leaving just a little in the bottom.
5. Put your cuttings into the pot then pour the remainder on top, keeping the cutting(s) upright. You can put two or three into the same pot if you like, if there is room.
6. Create a mini-greenhouse. I use transparent plastic containers just taller than the plants will be after about a month's growth. Don't use plastic bags, which restrict air circulation too mush = rot.
7. Spray the walls of the container lightly with water.
8. Places the pots inside the "mini-greenhouse" in a position with bright light but no direct sun, which could increase the inside temperature dangerously high. Make sure the surface is level and there are no gaps to let air in. There are several reasons for this. a. you want to maintain humidity at close to 100%. b. You do not want to allow fungal spores to enter from outside. There will already be some....c. You can tell if the "greenhouse" is at or near 100% humidity, by the appearance of condensation on the walls.
9. After about a 3 or 4 days remove the greenhouse at night and replace in the morning.
10. After about a week. remove the greenhouse for a few hours during the day, then replace. If any plants show sign of wilting replace the greenhouse immediately.
11. As soon as plants show signs of new growth, remove them from the greenhouse, but replace at once if there is any sign of wilting. Pot them into an a normal size garden pot, separating any that have grown together, place in a semi-shady position then plant out when you think they ready.

Most cuttings will not flower in their first year. It is a good idea not to let them, by pinching out flowering growth or any tall top growth, depending on the plant.
Good luck. 

If you have any queries pleas don't hesitate to mail: [email protected] My speciality is tropical plants.
Everyone likes butterflies. Nobody likes caterpillars.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 81,430
    Not a good idea to post your personal email address. That’s what the Private Message facility is for. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • debs64debs64 West Midlands, on the edge of the Black Country Posts: 4,528
    I agree can you edit the post? 
  • 1634 Racine1634 Racine Posts: 568
    edited July 2019
    I started off using plastic bags and it is such a faff.  Recently discovered that the small plastic cloches are ideal and even have the vents you can open up to provide some air from time to time
  • @Hexagon at this time of year I wouldn't put new cuttings in a conservatory, keep that for later this year or Jan/Feb time.  Cuttings would do better in a shady area, facing north with no mid day sunshine on them.  Don't forget to water them when the compost is drying out either.

  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 534
    Chuffed as just got two hebe cuttings that have rooted! 
  • Mike AllenMike Allen Posts: 207
    I seem to recall.  Dove correcting me, regarding giving out too much private info.  Dove.  I hope you are keeping well and happy.  Best wishes.  Mike.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,184
    "If you think you have better way. I've probably tried it. This method is best"
    How arrogant!
  • UpNorthUpNorth South Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK Posts: 376
    Hostafan1 said:
    "If you think you have better way. I've probably tried it. This method is best"
    How arrogant!
    Indeed.   I mean I like the sentiment of sharing but no need for that precursor.

    I would just add that I have success in a greenhouse, the roots seem to grow quicker.  Suspect also the further north in the UK the more likely a greenhouse is helpful if not necessary, certainly not a barrier to successful rooting.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,032
    @Hexagon - hebes are quite easy. No need for anything fancy. Take a basic cutting [a few inches long] cut below a joint/node, remove the lower leaves, and you can shove three or so round the edge of a 4 inch [approx] pot in some gritty compost. Somewhere sheltered is all they need  :)
    I often find they seed into my gravel path, and they can be pulled out and  potted up too. 

    @Hostafan1 - the phrase about being for 'real gardeners' is the bit that I find patronising  :/
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,358
    It was the ‘this is for real gardeners’ implying that if you do not use his method you aren’t one that got my goat, hosta! However, setting that aside, one size does not fit all.

    Thr plastic bag method works for many including professional gardeners, as does, depending on the plant, basal cuttings, hard wood cuttings, layering, rooting in water (see recent thread on this) sticking a bit of leaf into gritty compost etc. I haven’t really got into cuttings much yet, but when I do, I will be consulting the best method for each specific plant.

    I am sure that Herbaceous cuttings do work best though - for herbaceous plants  ;)
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