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Propagating plants |

Plant propagation is a budget-friendly way to increase your plant stocks to fill gaps in your garden or gift to friends. Propagation can be done by several methods, but all involve saving parts of your precious plants that would otherwise be thrown in the compost bin. Nurture your inner plant spirit and do something good for the soil by increasing the greenery around you with new plant babies!

There are three types of cuttings for propagation

If you have a garden, you probably do at least some farm work to maintain its beauty, so if you do not know when to prune shrubs and trees, we have some information to get you started. When you are ready to grab the pruning shears, there are three types of cuttings you can use for propagation: stem, root and basal.

Stem cuttings

rosemary plant growing new roots

These can be taken in different growth phases. Hardwood cuttings are just as they sound: cuttings are taken when the branch or stems are fully mature – or “hard”. These are usually taken during the winter when the trees are bare and dormant.

Herbaceous cuttings refer to the soft, leafy new spring plant, which will soon be softwood as the season progresses and the new growth has started to get tougher.

Half mature or half wood cuttings are still pliable at the ends, but hard at the base and are usually taken in the summer. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages and your choice depends on your preferences, but some plants will root better based on the type of cutting taken.

cutting rubber plant for propagation

Root knives

Take rootstocks in late autumn or early spring, when growth has either slowed or just begun. An advantage of this method is that you can keep the original plant in the same place without having to disturb its place. Some plants are careful and do not appreciate it when you touch their roots, so choose this for plants that are not so easily upset. Use a sharp shovel to dig near the host plant to ensure you have the right roots and not one of a nearby shrub. Choose long roots that are full-bodied and about pencil thick.

Make a straight cut with sharp pruners at the end closest to the plant and a sloping cut at the end away from the mother plant. Trim these into lengths of about three to six inches. Woody rootstocks can be tied together and then buried vertically in the garden with the straight cut at the top. Tying them together makes it easier to find them when you are ready to control root growth. Perennial rootstocks do not require bundling and can be planted on their sides as sprouts can grow at any node along the cut.

Basal cuttings

Basal cuttings involve separating new shoots that grow around the base of the mother plant. Cut with a sharp knife and plant the separated puppy in gravelly compost to encourage rooting.

plants that grow roots in water

Divide lumps and onions

Divisions are best made on perennials such as daylilies, calla lilies and coughs in the autumn after the foliage has died back or in the spring when new growth begins. Dig the lump and lift it from its place. Cut the lump into smaller, manageable sections with a sharp knife. This method works wonders to rejuvenate ornamental perennials because roots no longer have to compete for water and nutrients.

You will be rewarded with renewed vigor after sharing bulbs or tubers such as daffodils, tulips or lilies that have lost their flowering power. These shifts are often much smaller than the mother, so it may take a few years to bloom, but with the right care, they will soon add the color and vitality they once had.


There are several ways this can be accomplished, but all involve encouraging stem contact with a root medium. Lay the tips by bending the branches low enough to bury the tips in the ground. When a root system develops, you see new growth from the buried section. These can be separated and planted elsewhere in the garden.

plants grow new roots in clay pellets

Another way to store is to bend long, flexible stems and anchor part of it in soil and leave the tip end exposed above the ground. Rooting will take place where the trunk has been buried.

Air storage is similar to the previous methods, but is usually done for indoor plants or for plants with thick stems that cannot be bent sufficiently to be anchored to the ground. It’s about making a disc in the trunk and pushing a toothpick into the wound to keep it slightly open. Surround the wounded trunk with sphagnum moss and wrap with plastic wrap, tying it in place to keep the moss inside. Keep the moss ball moist and when new roots grow into the wrapped section, cut the stem under the new root ball and lay it up.

Save your seeds

It is easy to pick up seed packets from the store or order them through a catalog, but there is something so satisfying about being able to save seeds from the fruits and vegetables you have eaten and had. The same satisfaction can be obtained from annuals such as marigolds, marigolds, hollyhocks and the cosmos, which have seeds that are easily harvested, so you have fresh seeds for the coming season. Food crops such as squash, papaya and coriander are just as easy to collect and preserve for next year, which costs you less at planting time, with more rewards at harvest.

Rejuvenate your garden and gift your friends and neighbors with some of your most prized plants by propagating and dividing the fruits of your green thumb.

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