Try this inexpensive and simple way to make the most of your favourite plants
Growing new plants from other plants is one of the most satisfying bits of gardening. By taking cuttings from your favourite garden plants, you’ll be able to grow identical new ones.
Follow our step by step guidance to get going. This fascinating technique is a great way to involve kids in gardening too. It’s a simple but useful garden job to master, and one you will reap the benefits of all year round.
Choose a plant which is healthy because you’ll pass on whatever diseases the parent plant may have to the new one.
You might need:
Also known as tip or stem-tip cuttings, softwood cuttings are an easy and highly successful way to grow new plants from shrubs, house plants and herbaceous perennials.
Cuttings are taken from soft shoot tips below a leaf node – where new growth starts from an existing stem. These then grow roots when planted.
It’s generally best to take softwood cuttings in mid-summer, before the current year’s growth hardens off. Tuberous plants are an exception to this – dahlias, for example, start into growth in late February or early March and you need to take cuttings two to four weeks later, when the shoots are 5–10cm long.
Propagating from softwood cuttings
Remove all the lower leaves with a garden knife or secateurs, taking care not to damage the stem.
Make a hole in the compost to one side of the pot with a dibber or pencil. Insert the first cutting and gently firm the compost around it. Repeat with the other cuttings and then water in.
Make two hoops with garden wire large enough to stand 15cm over the top of the cuttings. Push the ends securely into the compost. Cover the pot with a plastic bag secured with an elastic band.
In contrast to softwood cuttings taken from soft fleshy growth, hardwood cuttings are taken when stem tips are hard and woody.
Ideal for plants such as camelia, hydrangea, or wisteria, hardwood cuttings are best taken in mid-autumn, just after the leaves have fallen from deciduous trees. They are also planted differently from softwood cuttings.
Use secateurs to take 10–20cm cuttings from the parent plant. Remove any leaves from each cutting and, with a knife, make a nick just below a leaf node.
Insert a spade in the soil and wiggle it back and forwards to make a slit trench. Fill the bottom with a few centimetres of grit.
Place the cuttings in the trench, leaving only the top few centimetres poking out. Use your feet to scrape soil back into the trench, firm the shoots in and water (unless the ground is very wet). The shoots will be budding the following spring, when you can dig them up and replant them.