How To Use Cuttings to Propagate Your Plants

Cuttings are easily one of the most simple ways there are to propagate your plants. All this requires are trimmers or scissors, a container, and either water or soil!

Tools You Will Need

Water Propagation

Soil Propagation

What Are Cuttings?

Cuttings are simply a piece of a plant which has been cut off of the parent plant. Most often cuttings are taken for pruning or propagation purposes.

How to Cut

First, you want to be sure that the plant you are taking cuttings from can be propagated by cuttings. One of the easiest ways to be sure (other than a quick google) is to check the stems for nodes. Nodes are little bumps along the plant stem. Further, these bumps often appear hard or calloused and sometimes feature small calloused looking stems. If you do not see these nodes, double-check google to see if your plant can be cutting propagated.

If your plant can be propagated with cuttings, then you want to be sure that the plant is mature enough and healthy enough to handle losing some of its leaves. This is not something easily taught, you must be familiar enough with your plant to know. Some research on the hardiness of your plant may be useful

Next, you want to be sure that the section you are cutting includes nodes and at least one leaf. For a better chance at root development, include multiple nodes or leaves. You want to be sure that you are trimming the stem between the nodes in what is called the internode. You can read more about plant nodes HERE.

How to Care For Your Cuttings

Now that you’ve taken your cuttings you have to decide how you want to propagate the cutting. Two common options are in water or in soil. Both methods have pros and cons. Many people choose water propagation so that they can view the roots as they grow.

Water Propagation

If you want to use water to propagate your cuttings, fill your container of choice with room temperature, filtered water. You then plop the cutting into the water. You want to be sure the leaves are out of the water, but the nodes are covered. This may mean you need to trim off a leaf or two. Be sure you leave at least one leaf–preferably two.

If you would like, you can use a rooting hormone to help your plant root faster.

The final step is to wait. Some plants will root quickly and others may take a long time. so long as the plant does not look dead, the cutting is doing fine. All you need to do to keep the cutting healthy is to change out the water regularly. I recommend changing the water weekly, though you can change it less frequently so long as it appears clean. Do not be afraid to add water if it is evaporating quickly. You want to be sure the nodes remain covered.

Once roots have formed you can choose to keep your plant in the water, or pot it is soil. Be sure to keep the soil moist without overwatering to help the cutting adjust to the soil. Some people recommend slowly adding some soil to the water to help the plant adjust. This is up to you and differs by the plant.

Soil Propagation

If you have chosen to propagate your cutting in soil, then you want to be sure you have good soil and a small container. You do not want to use a large container as this could cause rot from too much un-used moisture. Next, you want to fill your pot with the soil and plant the cutting in the dirt. Be sure that the nodes are covered by soil but the leaves are not. This may require you cut some of the leaves. Just be sure that there is still a leaf or two on the cutting. Additionally, you can add multiple cuttings to the same pot if you choose.

The next step is to water your cutting. You want to be sure that the soil remains moist until the plant has rooted. Be sure not to leave the soil too moist to avoid root rot. Once the roots are more established, follow the watering and care guidelines for your particular plant and watch it flourish.

What is Air Layering & How to Use it

According to RHS.org, air layering is…

“method of propagating new trees and shrubs from stems still attached to the parent plant.”

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Air layering is used for plants that do not root well. Some plants which air layering can be used for are camellia, Chaenomeles, daphnes, ficus, forsythia, hamamelis, philodendron, viburnums, Azalea, Holly, Magnolia.

When to Air Layer

Air layering is best done in spring or fall.

Materials Required

  • peat moss
  • sharp sterilized cutting tool
  • plastic wrap or aluminum foil
  • small piece of thin plastic
  • string
  • water

How to Air Layer Your Plants

In order to air layer, wrap a wounded part of your stem in moist sphagnum moss.

  1. The stem should be wounded below the node using an upward 1-inch slash. Hormone rooting compound can be applied to the surface of the wound if you choose.
  2. Wedge a small piece of wood into the cut so that it does not close
  3. Wrap the moss around the cut and secure it with string or twine.
  4. Cover the moss in aluminum foil first then plastic wrap to conserve the moisture.

Most plants with root in a couple weeks to a month. Once there are roots, remove the material and pot the plant as you normally would.

Potential Problems Air Layering

Clear plastic can encourage algae growth or sunscald, avoid by using black plastic or using aluminum foil.

What are Plant Nodes & How to Use Them

Plant nodes are bumps on plant stems which allow plants to be properly pruned and propagated. These node locations are easy to find and are the location of further growth of a plant. This article will provide you with more information on nodes, how to identify them, and how to use them when pruning or propagating your plant.

What is a Node & Note Identification

A plant stem includes both nodes and what is referred to as internodes. Before we get into a node, the internode is the space of the stem between nodes. A node is where we are going to focus. Nodes are little bumps along the plant stem. It is at these places where new stems, leaves, and roots grow. These bumps often appear hard or calloused and sometimes feature small calloused looking stems. These calloused stems might look like a root or stem attempted to grow but then calloused over.

Plants with Nodes

Examples of plants that have highly visible nodes include Pothos plants, Arrowhead plants; though many plants have visible nodes where the leaves are located on the plant’s stem.

What are Plant Nodes & How to Use Them

Nodes & Pruning

Nodes are important when pruning. When you are pruning your plants, you want to cut the stem so that the node is not cut but is left near the end of the remaining stem. If you cut on the other side of the node you are left with internode which does not sprout new branches. 

What are Plant Nodes & How to Use Them

Nodes & Propogation

Like with pruning nodes are important in propagation. As noted before, the node is the place on a stem where new branches and leaves are likely to grow from. That being said, nodes are necessary to propagate new roots as well. Taking a cutting of the plant which includes at least 2 nodes and at least 1 leaf and placing it in either water or moist soil, will likely grow roots. Be sure the nodes are in the water or moist soil for this process to work properly.

What are Plant Nodes & How to Use Them

What is Plant Division & How To Use It

Plant division is used for plants that have more than one shoot or stalk. Plant division like most other forms of propagation is meant to not only give you new plants but is also healthy for the well-established parent plant to thrive.

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Some plants which plant division can be used for include Snake Plants, Elephant Ear Plants, Prayer Plant, Fancy-Leaf Caladium, Most Ferns, Baby’s Tears Plants, Arrowhead Plants, Cast Iron Plants, Lady Palm, Moses In The Cradle, Peperomia Plant, Areca Palms, Calatheas, Emerald Gem Plant, Fishtail Palm, Zz Plant, Hawaiian Ti Plant, Stromanthe, Strawberry Begonias,  A Xanadu, Baby Rubber Tree, Peace Lillies, Natal Mahogany Plant, Bird Of Paradise, Chinese Evergreen, And Spider Plant.

When to Use Plant Division

Plant division is best done in early spring or early fall to give the plant recovery time.

Materials Required

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How to Divide Your Plants

  1. Identify the plant you wish to divide, this is called the parent plant.
  2. Dig up the plant you wish to divide, or the parent plant.
  3. Identify the section you wish to divide from the parent plant.
  4. Take a sharp shovel to split a section of the parent plant away this should only be done with plants that have more than one shoot section.
  5. Replant parent plant and new plant sections immediately. Be sure to bury the plant at the same level it was planted before to avoid shocking the plant with too much disturbance.
  6. Thoroughly water the plants, be careful not to overwater.

Potential Problems When Using Plant Division

When using plant division be sure you are not dividing your plant during the cold winter months as the parent and divided plants are not likely to survive.