Gardening TipsWhat you Need to Know When You Don't Have a Green Thumb
Taking cuttings from plants you already have is a great and cost effective way to start new plants. How many of us have taken a slip from an ivy, placed it in a container of water and in a few days it showed signs of new roots. Taking cuttings is a fun and easy way to reproduce a favourite plant, as plants started by cuttings will be identical to the original plant. Its a great way to share a plant with family and friends or create more for yourself. For example, Fuchsias and Geraniums that were brought indoors last fall, are now being encouraged to put out new growth so that cuttings can be made from the new growth. From one geranium or Fuchsia plant you can start enough plants to create a beautiful flower garden or container.
To make stem cuttings you want to start with new healthy plant growth. Using clean gardening scissors or a sharp knife make a clean cut to remove a 13-15 cm cutting, 1cm below a leaf joint (node), ideally making sure that there is at least one other terminal bud or node. The nodes are very important as this is where the new growth will happen. Roots will form on the lower node below soil level and new growth shoots will form on the node above ground. Remove the lower leave(s) from the bottom one-third of the cutting. Pour a small amount of the appropriate rooting hormone in a dish and dip the bottom end of the cutting into the rooting hormone. There are different types of rooting hormones for different types of cuttings.
Softwood is new growth, semi-softwood for older growth and hardwood is for woody growth on trees and shrubs. Rooting hormone will help stimulate healthy root growth. Plant the dipped cutting about 2-3 cm down into a container filled with moist planting medium such as coarse sand or an equal mixture of sand and peat moss. Give it another light water, then place a plastic bag or dome over the container, creating a greenhouse affect, and place the planted cutting in a warm area where there is lots of indirect light but not hot sun. If you are fortunate enough to have a heat mat, place the container on the mat for bottom heat which is helpful when starting new plants. It is also very important to keep the planting medium moist.
It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few weeks for roots to form, depending on the cutting type and conditions. Once the cuttings have rooted, remove the plastic cover, and cut back on the watering so that the new roots will seek out moisture. When the cuttings have a good root system they are ready to transplant into individual containers filled with a moistened high quality potting soil.
There are lots of plants started by stem cuttings. Most new trees and shrubs in the nursery industry are started this way. Houseplants can also be started with stem cuttings. Some of the easier ones that you might like to try include Ivies, Pothos, Jade plant, Hoya, Wandering Jew, and Christmas Cactus.