Taking Cuttings

The Easy Way to Raise Plants

Taking CuttingsAmazing Nature

Cuttings take advantage of the natural ability of plants to regenerate quickly from even very small sections of plant tissue. Certain cells have the ability to grow into many types of plant tissue, including roots and shoots. Essentially, a section of stem (or leaf or root) is potted up or placed in water, and will develop into a complete plant, genetically identical to the parent plant from which the cutting was taken. Propagation by cuttings is a form of vegetative or asexual reproduction.

Also, in many species the plants produced via cuttings will be stronger and faster growing than those produced from seed.

The type and method of cutting, and the way in which the cutting should be treated to increase its chances of developing into a mature plant, will vary considerably depending on the particular species involved. Included here are a few guidelines for various types of plants.

Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous plants are plants that have no woody stem. They are typically green and leafy in appearance. Salvia divinorum falls squarely into this category of plants. Other examples are; Tobacco, Henbane and Desmanthus illinoensis. Herbaceous plants are usually very straightforward to propagate by cutting.

A section of stem, at least 5cm long, should be cut. This should be done with a clean, sterile blade. Blades can be sterilized by heating in a flame for a few moments before being left to cool. The cutting can then be placed in water that has been previously boiled and left to cool. Only about the bottom third of the cutting needs to be submerged in water. The cutting should be placed in a warm, well lit spot, away from direct sunlight. The water should be changed every few days. Roots should begin to develop over the following week (although in some circumstances it may take longer). Once the roots are around 2-3cm long, the cuttings can be planted in soil. A good soil mix would be:

  • 50% houseplant compost
  • 50% perlite

This will provide adequate water retention, whilst being free draining and allowing air to circulate around the newly developed roots. All these factors are important in the prevention of rot and the development of a good, healthy root system.

Alternatively, the water stage can be missed out altogether. The cuttings can be placed directly in soil after they have been removed from the parent plant. If cuttings are placed directly in soil, the soil should be misted regularly with a spray bottle. If one is available the pots/trays should be placed inside a propagator to maintain a high level of humidity, although they should also receive daily ventilation. If you do not have access to a propagator, transparent food bags can be placed over the pots to create a miniature greenhouse. For some species, rooting in soil will simply take longer than in water, 5 weeks rather than 2, for example. For other species, this method is recommended as the best technique. It is very useful when the young roots of some plants are fine and delicate and may be damaged when transferring to soil.

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