Make New Plants… By Taking Cuttings

I received an email from a friend who offered her garden to me to come and get some cuttings. With its mixture of exotics and Australian native plants this is the equivalent of offering me a block of chocolate 😀 .

Why take cuttings? Plants like Eremophilas (Emu Bushes) are difficult to raise from seed. If a particular flower colour or plant habit is required, taking cuttings from the plant with these desirable qualities guarantees that the new plant will have the characteristics that are wanted.

This is a great time of the year in South Australia to begin setting cuttings as the warmth stimulates root growth quickly because many plants are in growth mode.

This is basically how I do it.

Gather equipment

Gather equipment

  • Collect together a suitable clean pot (140-150mm across) with good drainage holes, some freely draining propagating mix, sharp secateurs or snips, some sort of plant hormone powder or gel (from garden centres) if needed, a label and suitable pen, a plastic bag or plastic drink bottle with the bottom removed.
  • Fill the pot with the mix within 2-3 cm of the top and firm down gently.
Make cuttings

Make cuttings

  • Collect the cutting material. (I used Eremophila maculata from the bush in the previous post.) Trim it to length (about 10cm long) making a cut immediately below a point where a leaf joins the stem. This point is called a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves on the stem, cut any large leaves in half. Always keep moist by standing in water or keeping it covered with plastic or moist paper.
  • Dip the end of the cutting in the plant rooting hormone if using it. (Follow directions on the container.) Roots will grow from this point and sometimes along the lower part of the stem.
  • Make a hole 2-3cm deep in the mix with a piece of dowel or knitting needle equivalent and insert the cutting. Firm the mix around the stem.

Set the cuttings

Set the cuttings

  • Several cuttings can be placed in the one pot, suitably spaced so that the leaves do not touch one another.
  • Water gently to settle the mix around the stems.

Cover cuttings

Cover cuttings

  • Place the drink bottle over the top of the cuttings or the pot depending on size, write the name of the plant on the label, where the piece came from and the date and put the lot in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.
  • The mix needs to be kept moist not soggy, so watering may be necessary only once a week depending on the ingredients in the propagating mix.
  • The cover retains humidity around the leaves of the plant pieces. Small heated propagators can be purchased which make the rooting process occur quicker. A hot house, which I use, is ideal. In this case the extra cover over the cuttings is unnecessary. The idea is to keep the leaves cooler than the mix in the pot. Slight moisture on the leaves achieves this cooling effect much like perspiration does in humans.
  • Roots should appear in 3-6 weeks depending on the weather and the type of plant.

Some Australian native plants are notoriously difficult to strike but I never give up entirely. One never knows when success will come.

  • This article has been submitted to the writing project “How to…” organised by Darren Rowse at ProBlogger
  • More details on the above points in the next couple of posts.


    17 Responses to “Make New Plants… By Taking Cuttings”

    1. Stuart says:

      Found this post via Darren’s feed. Great to see you putting it out there Corinne and a great how-to article.

    2. Steve says:

      Nice “How-to” posting,we use a similiar process for our Southern California garden. It keeps the cost down of buying new plant and also a great sense of achievement.

    3. Jersey Girl says:

      Nice post, I like the pictures with it. I’m not very good with plants or fish. I hopped over from problogger.

    4. Matt says:

      Great How to! My parents owned a flower shop for 18 years. You said it well! Thanks for contributing to the group writing project. My How To is up also.

    5. Matt says:

      Great How to! My parents owned a flower shop for 18 years. You said it well! Thanks for contributing to the group writing project. My how to is up also.

    6. […] In the previous post Make New Plants… By Taking Cuttings, I mentioned obtaining a propagating mix. I have had to compromise with what is available locally. The basic idea of a propagating mix suitable for cuttings is to have excellent drainage, one that does not compact with watering, and maintains some moisture. […]

    7. MamaDuck says:

      Ah, that’s how I used to do it – makes me miss my garden! Our how-to is up as well if you’d like to check it out!!

    8. Ross says:

      This is one of my favourites in the whole project! Brilliant post – a truly useful how-to!

      Have a great weekend,

    9. […] Make New Plants… by Taking Cuttings by Corinne How to Have a Better Garden Than the Neighbors by Doug How to Plant Fall Garlic by Kenny Guerrilla Gardening – 12 Steps to Addiction by Whimspiration […]

    10. […] As a result of this development we are going to chop the plants in order to take as many cuttings as possible so the plants will not be wasted. The small plants we will attempt to relocate even if we have to pot them first and treat them as large ‘cuttings’. […]

    11. Olivia says:

      Very nice post. I always wondered what “taking cuttings” meant. When someone shows you as clearly as this it makes sense, even to someone like me who is gardening-challenged! Good post.

    12. […] Make New Plants… by Taking Cuttings by Corinne […]

    13. […] It is often easier to shake the potting mix from the roots so that individual small plants can be seen. Use knife or secateurs to cut between each plant, ensuring that some roots remain on each piece. If there are no roots on some good pieces place them in some propagating mix and treat as a cutting. The other pieces can be repotted or planted out. […]

    14. […] here for information on taking […]

    15. R Helbers says:

      I’ve raised quite a few eremophilas from cuttings. however I do not place a cover over the cuttings. basically I water my cuttings from the bottom with water up to 1/2 inch deep all the time and keep the top dry. this prevents the leaves from rotting and or fungus. I used to cover earlier but found that often they developed fungus etc. then discussing this with a successful grower who advised me to keep the top etc dry. Some eremophilas can take 6-9 months to strike so be patient. none that I’ve grown minde being wet at the bottom.

    16. Mike Smith says:

      R Helbers’s comments above re not using covers over the cuttings are also recommended by the ABC’s gardening site: “Eremophilas are slow to propagate from cuttings and take some time to root. Any humidity will cause them to rot. They need to have good air circulation around the foliage, so avoid using plastic bags over cutting material.”

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