Plant propagation is a simple and effective way to spread the number of plants you have in your garden or outdoor space. Different types of plants grow with different types of root systems and buds, but some are well-suited to sprouting from cuttings. Learn about the three different types of cuttings – root cuttings, leaf cuttings and stem cuttings – so that you can increase and multiply the number of your favorite plants and herbs.
1. Root Cuttings
Fall is the ideal time for taking root cuttings, as the roots are becoming dormant after a productive summer, and so won’t go into shock from being dug up.
To take root cuttings dig up a side chunk or unwanted chunk of the plant you propagating with a sharp, straight shovel. Then separate the chunk into smaller chunks, depending on how much you want to plant out elsewhere in your garden. Many herbs and woody plants have fairly tough root systems, and so separating chunks by hand or with a shovel wont be detrimental to the cutting. If you are planting out the cutting right away, dig a hole for it in the wanted spot and mulch the plant lighlty after transplanting it. Root cuttings can also be potted with lightly enriched soil. Always remember to water your cuttings after transplanting them.
Ideal plants for root cuttings:
Bleeding hearts, baby’s breath, evening primrose, oriental poppy, phlox, mullein
2. Leaf Cuttings
Some plants can have leaf cuttings taken off of them and rooted in a container of water. Leaf cuttings should be taken in the fall before cold weather sets in placed in a container filled with enough water that the last 1/4 inch of the leaf stem is submerged in water. Place the cutting in a warm, dry place such as a sunny windowsill. Different plants will have different rooting times, but all should be planted in moist, rich soil after they have developed a set of roots in the water. It’s best to initially transplant the rooted cutting into a pot, rather than directly outside, especially in cold conditions.
Ideal plants for leaf cuttings:
African violet, jade plant, Christmas/Thanksgiving cacti, philodendron, impatiens.
3. Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings can be done at nearly any time of the year. To take a stem cutting, use a pair of sharp garden clippers to cut a part of the short, stocky growth near the base of the plant. Insert the cutting into a pot of standard organic soil mix, firmly press down the soil around it and then place the pot in an open plastic bag. About eight weeks later the cutting should be a well-rooted plant that can be transplanted if necessary.
Ideal plants for stem cuttings:
Fuschia, geranium, begonia, sedums/succulents, patience plant, lantana, pointsettia, mints, oregano, marjoram.