How to Take Cuttings from Plants

How to Take Cuttings from Plants

Knowing how to take cuttings from plants is the first step in growing new ones from what you already have.  Growing new plants of your own is ridiculously easy, sometimes embarrassingly easy, because certain plants need no encouragement to reproduce, and grow miniatures of themselves with great enthusiasm. All you have to do is to cut the new growths off the parent and pot them; they will already be growing roots and in very little time they will be proper plants.

For instance, mother of thousands, Saxifraga stolonifera, spins out long dangling thread-like stalks, on the ends of which are miniature replicas of the parent. The spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum variegatum, does the same, except that the runners arch up into the air, and bend over with the weight of the growing plantlets. Tiny plants like this will need only 5 cm (2 in) diameter pots to start with.

how to take cuttings from plants Some plants can be divided into several separate pieces, with roots on each, and potted singly into small containers. The cactus called Chamaecereus silvestrii grows lots of ‘branches’ from the crown. Take one off and put it aura compost, rather than into it, so that the base has sufficient soil round it to support it. It will put out roots very quickly. Early summer is the best time for this, though in general division should be done in spring. Plants like Billbergia nutans, mother-in-law’s tongue Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, and Cyperus alternifolius, are among those which can be increased by this method.

The commonest way to increase houseplants is by taking cuttings, that is, pieces cut off the plant. The commonest type of cutting is a stem-cutting-that is, a section of a young stem produced earlier in the season. A stem-cutting is, therefore, always less than a year, and sometimes only a few months or even weeks old.

Putting the cut end of the stem in compost encourages it to produce roots, provided the cut was made immediately below the point at which a leaf or pair of leaves grew from the stem. This is the part which produces roots most readily. A stem-cutting should not have flower-buds on it, otherwise it may not root.

Many plants can be increased from soft tip cuttings, that is, stem tips about 5-7.5 cm (2-3 in) long. Remove the lowest leaves. Put the cutting into compost up to about half its own length, water it in and then cover with a polythene bag. Keep it in a warm, shady place and roots will appear within a few weeks, and the cutting will begin to lengthen. It can then be potted separately. The best time to make these soft cuttings is in summer. Some plants, such as ivy, tradescantia and busy Lizzie, whose soft cuttings root very easily, can be rooted in ordinary water. With some plants, the stern tips which you nip out to make them bushier can be used for cuttings.

Some plants can be increased by using their leaves. African violets can be increased by removing a leaf with a stem attached and putting it singly into a soil-less compost to about half its length. Plantlets will appear from the base of the leaf stem, with their own roots. Begonia leaves can be laid flat on a compost surface, cut across the main veins, and covered with polythene. Kept in a warm place, plantlets will appear at the cuts.

Air layering is a special method used mostly for the rubber plant, for which it is very successful. Monstera and dieffenbachia can also be treated in this way, see the post on Ficus.  This is just an introduction on how to take cuttings from plants.  Check out the rest of the site for more tips on specific plants.

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