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Starting Cuttings

Rooting cuttings is easy to do. Everyone has their own way of successfully rooting their cuttings so I will only explain a few methods that work for me.

Log Cutting

This works best for woody cuttings. Take a cutting from 2" to 8" (5cm to 20cm). Fill a pot with a good soil mix. The size of the pot needed depends on the length of your cutting. Make a line with your finger down the middle of the pot about 1/2" (1cm) deep. Lay the cutting in the line you just made and mound the soil against it till the bottom half is buried in the dirt and the top half is above the soil. Water lightly. The longer cutting might produce several new plants - if you get more than one sprout they can be separated after they have grown a few inches high by cutting on each side of the new sprout.

Rooting in water

This method works very well especially for hardwood cuttings but will also work for some greenwood cuttings. Remove all but the top one or two pairs of leaves from the cuttings. Take a glass jar and fill with about 2 inches (5cm) of water. Place your cuttings in the jar. Change the water every day (if you have chlorinated tap water, allow water to stand overnight in an open container before using on your cuttings.) Do not put in direct sun. Do not allow leaves to become submerged in the water as they will rot.

When you see white nubbies (lenticels) forming on the cutting

you can take it out of the water and pot it up in a good soil mix with good drainage. Do not overwater as this is the biggest cause of cuttings rotting. It may droop and lose leaves from the shock of being taken out of the water and put into its new home but it will perk up again after it adjusts to the soil. Don't fertilize until you know it has a fairly good root system and then fertilize 1/2 strength for the first few weeks.

Rooting in soil and alternatives

This method is very easy to do and works well for hardwood and softwood cuttings. Fill a pot with a good soil mix that has good drainage until it is about an inch from the top of the pot. Sand or perlite can be used also, with great success. With a pencil make a deep hole in the middle of the pot. Take your cutting, right side up

and stick it in the hole. Water the cutting so any space around it is filled in with the soil. Keep out of direct sun. Cuttings root better and faster if placed on a heating mat or on top of your refrigerator where it is warm. Do not water again until the soil feels a little dry to the touch. Keeping the soil too wet will cause your cutting to rot.

Air Layering

Another method of rooting cuttings and especially hard to root ones is air layering. Air layering leaves the cutting attached to the plant so it can keep receiving water and nutrients from the mother plant while it is rooting. One method is to cut a notch in an upward angle about 1/4" (5mm) deep depending on the thickness of the cutting. Stick a tooth pick in the notch to keep it open and apply a little rooting powder to the cut. Make sure to use a very sharp knife or razor blade. Take a 8" x 10" (20cm x 25cm) sheet of plastic (a cut open baggie will work) or tin foil and fill the middle half of it with moist sphagnum moss. Wrap this around the area of the cut and tie the bottom and top of the plastic to secure it to the plant. If you use clear plastic you will be able to see the roots growing. Click here for more details.