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Vegetative Propagation

Many plants can be propagated by cuttings – taken usually from the stems, but sometimes also from the roots or leaves. Cutting stimulates root production.  Even bulbs can be increased by cutting them up.

Rooting powder stimulates the growth
of roots, which may help to produce
stronger plants. Some rooting powders
contain a fungicide, which helps to
prevent different types of rot. Some
gardeners have success with cuttings
without using any chemical aids.

Which plants can I propagate vegetatively?

All plants except annuals can be propagated by methods other than seed. Vegetative methods involve cutting a section from a plant and persuading it to produce roots.

Are there any benefits of choosing vegetative propagation as a method to increase stock?

Splitting perennials not only increases your stock, producing extra plants for the garden and for exchanges with friends, but can improve the health of the plant. Reducing congestion and discarding older, unproductive parts of the plant keeps it growing strongly. Taking cuttings of woody plants – trees and shrubs – is a good method of creating replacement material for plants that have outgrown their allotted space or perhaps have grown out of shape. Cutting bulbs quickly produces new bulbs.

Can I take cuttings throughout the year?

Theoretically, yes, though autumn cuttings tend to root most readily. Spring cuttings and summer are soft and need attention to ensure they do not dry out. Winter cuttings may be slow to root but can usually be kept outdoors and need little attention. Keep taking cuttings regularly until you find a time that suits you – and the plants.

Do I need to put my cuttings in a specific kind of potting mix?

In order for cuttings to root, they need to be in a potting mix that is low in nutrients. Ordinary potting mix encourages the cutting to carry on producing leaves, and you want it to produce roots. A suitable mixture is equal parts of peat or coir and horticultural grit, sharp sand, perlite or vermiculite. Once rooted, the cuttings can be potted up using potting mix.

Do I need to use any chemicals to support and encourage the new plant’s growth?

Some gardeners always treat their cuttings with a hormone-rooting compound, which takes the form of either a powder or a liquid. Other gardeners think that these compounds are not necessary. The problem with using compounds is that it is easy to use too much, which leads to the production of brittle roots that are easily damaged.

What types of cutting can be taken to propagate treesand shrubs?

Cuttings are defined according to the degree of firmness in the growth. Softwood cuttings are taken in early summer while the new growth is still very soft. Semi-ripe cuttings, taken from mid-summer to autumn, are firmer but still flexible. Hardwood, or fully ripe cuttings, are taken in early winter when the growth is firm 
and woody.