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Cuttings - how do you do it?

borgadrborgadr Posts: 709
On Gardeners World they're always talking about how easy it is to take cuttings, how everyone should do it and not be intimidated. I must have seen Monty and Carol do it dozens of times now.

So I tried it with a couple of different Salvias and some Verbena.

I followed their usual advice, found nice non-flowering side shoots, cut just below a leaf node, remove most of the leaves and pushed them into 50-50 mix of compost and grit.

That's where the demonstration usually stops. What happens next?

First I left them in a shaded part of the greenhouse, misted them twice a day, and they withered and died, dried up, within a couple of weeks.

So I tried again. This time I covered the pot with a sandwich bag to conserve humidity and put them in a shady part of a cold frame. They rotted within a week.

I don't think I'll bother any more.  Seems a lot easier just to buy new plants!



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,752
    edited September 2021
    What kind of Verbena? V. bonariensis for example,  is very easy. Salvias are hit and miss. Using the tips is better for them. 
    If you do it  at the wrong time, and with the wrong medium and conditions, it won't work well. 
    It also comes down to trial and error. Too much damp causes rotting. Too much heat - the opposite. Those are the most common reasons for failures, as well as timing. 
    Really gritty compost, and putting them round the edges of pots also helps. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Zoe P2Zoe P2 Posts: 844
    edited September 2021

    I don't use hormone powders or anything else.  Salvias root even in water.

    I have a dream that my.. children.. one day.. will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character

      Martin Luther King

  • LynLyn Posts: 23,190
    You’ll get there, I never but plants all my garden is from seeds and cuttings, I  took salvia Black n Blue, similar to Amistad,  I do keep them indoors though until they’ve rooted, after that they’ll over winter in the GH if it gets really cold I’ll bring the indoors again. These have now rooted.

    There’s about 10 in there.  I don’t fuss with the compost, just ordinary multi purpose.
    Fuchsia cuttings I always do in water, little glass on the window sill.  
    Theres a thread on here about cutting that will root in water, you may have more success with that. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • FireFire Posts: 18,933
    @borgadr how long a piece are you taking? 10cm is good. Are you stripping most of the leaves back? If you are having problems, make sure you mix compost with good amounts of grit or vermiculite or similar. The cuttings need good light but not direct sun, not near a radiator. Also make sure the pots can drain fully. If the pots are soggy or sitting in a tray of water they will rot. It sounds like you might have been over-watering them. Compost (not garden earth) should be damp but not soggy or the cuttings will rot before they have a chance to root.
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 709
    Hi Fire, yes, about 10am. I pinch out the tip and strip all the leaves except for 2-3 near the top. It's about 50-50 MPC and grit.  I suspect you're right, I probably overwatered the pot originally.

    I think I will try again, but maybe next year.  But it does feel like a lot of faff and failure just to save a few quid on plants.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,752
    Over watering does more harm than good - especially for anything that likes sharper drainage. A cool spot and less water is best.
    Once you get the hang of it - you'll find it rewarding, but it might be worth practising on easy plants initially.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • It's not always about saving a few quid tho - the satisfaction of DIY counts for a lot and increases your plant/gardening knowledge overall ;)
  • FireFire Posts: 18,933
    edited September 2021
    I find that putting pots on pebbles or slate or similar (in a saucer) will help them to not sit in water and therefore not rot. Not putting plants in an opaque outer pot helps too - so that you can see how much water there is at the bottom. A flat dish with some stones in can be helpful like that, esp when starting out or with Mediterrean plants that won't take any water logging. It is rewarding. Plants like pelargonium, salvias and sedums are fun to start with as they often strike first time and grow on quickly.
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 709
    Inspired by your responses (and that I keep reading this is a great time of year to do it), I've gone for attempt number 3.

    To recap:
    Attempt 1: Left in the greenhouse with no covering, misted twice a day. Dried out
    Attempt 2: Left in the cold frame covered in a plastic sandwich bag. Rotted
    Attempt 3: Same as attempt 2, but dampened rather than soaked the compost, and this time tried a "pot-within-a-pot" with the outer pot supporting the sandwich bag (a bit like the pics @Lyn showed us) so the bag isn't in contact with the leaves. Also left only a couple of small or half-leaves on each cutting this time instead of 2-3 bigger ones.

    In all 3 attempts everything else is the same - used non-flowering side shoots, cut just below a leaf node, stripped all lower leaves, pinched out the tips, inserted lower-end first into a 50-50 mix of grit & MPC around the edge of pots.
    For the record it's Salvia farinacea 'Victoria' (4 in one pot) and Salvia 'Mystic Spires' (4 in another pot).

    They're in a shady spot in the cold frame.  I won't touch them for 2 months, but if there's any risk of frost in that time I'll move them to a shady spot in the greenhouse.  Will update this thread with the outcomes..
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,415
    I think those are both herbaceous types rather than shrubby ones. If they have lots of stems/shoots coming from ground level rather than a woody framework, you might be better dividing them in spring (just as they start to grow) if the cuttings don't make it.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
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