How to grow from a cutting: where do most gardeners go wrong?
Many gardeners seek to expand the variety in their gardens, and a great way to do this is through cuttings. Free, easy and low effort, it’s the perfect technique to share plants with friends, and to spread the enjoyment of beautiful plants between gardens and gardeners. It’s not just about saving money: just like growing from seed, there’s a real pleasure that comes from raising a plant from a cutting. The process of growing a more developed cutting means a faster result that from seed. However, despite the obvious benefits, there are those who avoid it. Taking cuttings is as easy as snipping some scissors: but then growing the full plant from the cutting you’ve taken is a challenge. Here’s our guide to producing a healthy, flourishing plant from the cutting you’ve taken.
- Know your stuff
Taking a successful cutting is all about ensuring you give your new plant the best possible chance. There are lots of decisions you can make to ensure your plant prospers, and there are real differences in the smallest of factors. The season, time of day and location of the cutting you take all play an important role.
The time of the season is important when taking a cutting. This is because you need to ensure your cutting grows its own roots prior to shoots appearing in spring. The best point in the year to remove a cutting will depend on the species of plant. Early spring is ideal for taking softwood cuttings from flowers. Herbs and berry plants should be trimmed later, in mid or late summer, while cuttings from trees and more mature plants should be taken later, in the Autumn. All cuttings are best taken early in the morning, while the plant is still strong from a night of rest and moisture absorption. Bear in mind that younger plants root more easily that older plants.
- Be prepared
Your cuttings will flourish with the right care, and it’s vital they get into the conditions they need in time. Trimming part of a plant allows only a fairly small window of time before the part you’re hoping to cultivate begins to wilt. You should refrigerate your cutting to slow decomposition, yet if you’re prepared and in a good position to plant your cuttings straight away, you’ll be able to give your garden’s new addition the best possible chance of prospering. Some vital materials to keep on standby for your cuttings search include:
- Secateurs, a sharp knife or scissors to take the cutting
- A clean plastic bag for your cutting
- Rooting medium
- Root hormone feed
- Small pots
- A covering to keep the cutting warm and protected- for example a clear plastic bag or cloche.
- Heating pads to ensure consistent temperature and minimise the risk of damage
- Take the right cutting
The most effective type of cutting you can take is a nodal cutting- this is a cutting taken from an area between nodes, or leafs, shoots or buds, areas that tend to build up the nutrients you need to promote root growth.
Take a straight cut from a part of the stem not too brittle or too bendy- as this is likely to be the area of the stem with the best balance of carbohydrates and nitrogen.
When the time comes to take your cutting, cut 6-8 inches of plant and remove leafs from the bottom half of its length before planting into a few inches of rooting medium. Keep it in the greenhouse, under a cloche or indoors in a plastic bag (warm but out of direct, strong sunlight, ensuring to allow it to air regularly) to ensure it grows strong enough to put down roots as desired.
- Feed and treat it correctly
Keeping your cutting healthy as it grows new roots means it needs the right feed, but it’s not regular fertiliser but rooting hormone that’s required. As with all plants, it’s not simply a question of volume: quality is equally important. Overfeeding your plant on nitrogen for instance will weaken the cutting. Similarly, you need to be careful what you plant your cutting in: soil will contain bacteria that can harm the fragile cutting. Using specialist rooting medium is the best way to ensure you get healthy root growth. Your cutting should be kept warm and well fed until its roots grow and it can be moved into a normal pot. Take care not to shock or damage the delicate cutting, and remove any damaged or dying material from the stem as often as you can.
- Move it on
After you’ve planted your cutting in rooting medium, it should take 3-4 weeks for your stem to produce roots. At this point you can move it on to potting out in special potting compost.
Whatever your gardening projects in 2018, we stock everything you need to help your plants prosper in our shop. All our products are rigorously tested on our farm, and we provide great value for money by delivering everything straight to your garden!