What more could any gardener ask for than free plants? A plant obsession can become very expensive very quickly, but what if we told you there was a way to get new plants completely free? Not to mention it’s extremely rewarding when it’s successful.
Why take plant cuttings?
With the demand for plants increasing, and the demand for peat compost decreasing, finding high-quality plants has become more challenging. Although taking cuttings may seem daunting, it is an effective way to gain more plants for free.
There is no perfect way to take cuttings, nor is there any guarantee they will take but, with this complete guide on how to take cuttings, you will have the knowledge and tools needed to achieve the best results possible.
The difference between taking cuttings and growing from seed
When a seed grows, there is no guarantee that it will look or act as its parent plants. F1 hybrids for example will not grow true to type. Unlike seeds, cuttings will look identical to their parent plants. So if you have a plant that is particularly successful and you want a replica, taking cuttings would be the best approach.
What should you take cuttings off?
- -Plants that might not survive the winter
- -Any plants that are expensive
- -Plants that are hard to acquire
- -Your favourite plants that you want more of
When to take plant cuttings
Softwood Cuttings: The first time to take cuttings is between February and May when seeds are being sown and seedlings begin to grow. This is the best time to take any softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are soft and flexible which is usually taken from new growth. These shoots are very fast to form shots, however, they are also quick to die if they are not given the right conditions.
Semi-ripe cuttings: From July all the way through to October it is the time to take semi-ripe cuttings. These types of cuttings are firmer and are far more robust. They are slower to grow roots and are more demanding.
Hardwood cuttings: Lastly, Early Autumn through to Winter is the time to take hardwood cuttings. These are entirely made of wood and are far less demanding. It can take up to 6 months for these roots to grow.
Top Tip: Take cuttings first thing in the morning when they are full of moisture to increase the success rate.
How to take plant cuttings
What you will need
- -Peat free compost
- -Sharp secateurs
- -Chopping board
- -The plant you wish to take cuttings from
- -Rooting Hormone
A step by step guide on how to take plant cuttings
1: Preparation is key when taking cuttings, once you snip off a shoot, it begins to die. Ensure that you have everything you need ready to go to increase the success rate.
2: Cuttings need an environment that encourages dampness and air. Mix together a 50/50 mix of peat-free compost and perlite as this will have good aeration and retains water well.
3: When choosing your soon to be cutting, choose a shoot that has good growth without any flower buds if possible. All the shoots’ energy must be focused on producing roots so the plant can survive. If it is not possible to choose a shoot without flower buds, simply cut them off.
4: Take softwood and semi-ripe cuttings from the end of the shoot, this can either be growing straight or a side shoot. Cut the shoot longer than what is needed just above a leaf node. The best size cutting is between 1 to 5 inches. Hardwood cuttings should be 6 inches.
5: Lie the shoot on a cutting board and cut off the bottom leaves. Then make a clean cut just below the leaf node. This is where the roots will grow from.
6: Dip the shoot in a rooting gel such as Envii Seafeed rooting gel and tap off the access.
7: Plant the cuttings around the edge of the pot as the moisture holds better here. A 3-inch pot should take at least four cuttings. It is important that the cuttings do not touch.
8: Water the pot well once all the cuttings have been planted and cover with a clear plastic bag. Store somewhere warm and bright but with some shade from the sun.
9: Check on your cuttings every few days to check for mould. You will know your cutting has successfully rooted when you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot or the shoot starts to produce new leaves.