Propagating plants from cuttings is one of the easiest and most used methods of propagation. Many plants will root from just a section of a plant. Some plants will root in water, but cuttings will develop a better root system when rooted in a soil-less potting mix. Sand or perlite can also be used, especially for cuttings that need good drainage and may rot if kept too wet. Many easy-to-root plants will not require the use of a rooting hormone but doing so will assure faster rooting. Some plants, such as, citrus, may root very slowly or not at all without the use of a rooting hormone.
|Take cuttings from the plant
Take cuttings from a plant, such as, a begonia. For most plants, cuttings should be between 4 and 6 inches long. Don’t make your cuttings too large; they will not root well or, if rooted, will become a tall, lanky plant instead of a compact one.
|Assemble the materials
1. Pot(s) of pre-moistened soil-less rooting medium (potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sand, sphagnum moss, etc.)
2. Pruners or a sharp knife
3. Rooting hormone
4. Plastic cup
5. Pencil or other object slightly wider than the stem of the cutting
6. Clear plastic bag or a bell jar
|Cut stems just below a bud
Using a sharp knife (or pruners) cut just below where a leaf attaches to the stem (the node). Roots grow easiest from this location. If you leave a section of stem below the node, it often rots.
|Remove lower leaves
Remove the lower leaves but leave the top two or three. Any part of the cutting that will be buried below the surface of the rooting medium should be free of leaves.
|Remove any flowers that are present
Flowers are not helpful for the rooting process. If left on the cutting, the flowers will try to develop into seed and use the food reserved in the cutting that could be better used for rooting. Dying flowers will also mold and rot in the moist rooting environment. So, hard as it is, remove any flowers or buds from the cuttings.
|Ready for "sticking"
Cut back to a node and stripped of lower leaves and flowers, the cutting is now ready for “sticking” into the moist rooting medium.
|Make holes in potting mix
Use an object such as a pencil or dowel to make a hole in the potting mix. Make the hole larger than the cutting so the rooting powder is not rubbed off when the cutting is placed in the rooting medium.
|Don't contaminate your rooting hormone
Do not stick cuttings directly into the original container of rooting hormone. The moisture on the cutting will degrade the remaining hormone in the container.
|Use just what you need
Pour just the amount of rooting hormone you need into a separate container, such as, a plastic cup, and reseal the original hormone container to keep it fresh.
|Dip the cutting
Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone and swish it around to lightly cover the bottom 1-1 ½ inches of the cutting. Tap the cutting on the side of the container lightly to remove any excess. If very little hormone powder sticks to the cutting you may want to dip the cuttings in water first, tap them to remove any excess water, and then dip them in the rooting hormone. Dispose of any excess rooting hormone in your small container. Do not put it back in the original container.
|Stick cuttings into prepared holes in the rooting medium
“Stick” the cutting in the rooting medium being careful not to rub off the rooting hormone powder.
Hint: More than one cutting can be placed into a single pot. After the cuttings have rooted they can be divided and potted in separate pots. Do not crowd the cuttings, however. Crowding can result in mold and rotting.
|Firm soil around the cuttings
Gently press the medium around the cuttings to provide good contact between the cuttings and rooting medium.
Water sparingly to also help provide good contact of the medium with the cutting and provide moisture.
|Place the entire pot inside a plastic bag
To maintain humidity and moisture, place the entire pot inside a plastic bag.
|Fill the plastic bag with air
Inflate the bag to keep the sides of the bag away from the cuttings as much as possible. Leaves touching the bag are more prone to develop mold between the leaf and the bag.
|Seal the plastic bag
Use a twist tie to seal the bag.
|Or, use a bell jar
A clear glass bell jar also makes a very nice rooting chamber. It provides needed moisture but still displays the cuttings in an attractive setting. Examine the cuttings weekly to make sure the rooting medium is not drying out. When rooting has taken place (about 3 weeks for these begonia cuttings) separate the cutting and pot them in individual pots.