100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 31 – How to Grow Plants from Cuttings

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Grape_Vine_CuttingsPlants can be grown from cuttings as well as seeds. Some plants do even better this way. Grapes, for example, are far easier to grow from a cutting than from a seed. Blackberries are also easier to grow from a cutting than from a seed.

Propagation by stem cuttings is the most commonly used to propagate woody shrubs and vines. Maintaining high humidity around the cutting is critical. This can be accomplished in a greenhouse or by placing plastic or glass over the pot.

There are four main types of stem cuttings are herbaceous, softwood, semi-hardwood, and hardwood. These types refer to the growth stage of the parent (stock) plant, not the plant type itself. Different plants will have different optimal times for taking cuttings.

Let’s discuss the four types of stem cuttings in detail.

Herbaceous cuttings are made from non-woody, herbaceous plants. A piece of stem 3-5 inches long is cut from the plant and the leaves of the lower 1/3 of the stem are removed. Cuttings of this type root quickly and a very high percentage do take root.

Softwood cuttings come from the soft new growth of woody plants. can tell the plant is ready to cut when the oldest leaves are mature but newest leaves are still very small. Usually, these cuttings are taken in May-July. They are delicate and must be cared for to ensure they do not dry out. They root very quickly.

Semi-hardwood cuttings come from partially mature wood from the current season’s growth. These are taken just after new growth. This is normally done mid-July to the beginning of fall. It is fairly firm and the leaves are mature. Broadleaf evergreens and conifers are often propagated in this manner.

Hardwood cuttings are made from dormant branches. They are taken in late fall through early spring. The plant is usually dormant with no active growth. The wood is firm and does not bend easily. Deciduous shrubs are often propagated this way but it can be used for evergreens as well.

Look up the plant that you are planning to root to see which type of cutting is optimal and which season to cut it in. Prepare your supplies in advance and make sure to check on your plants regularly.

Take your cuttings early in the morning and keep them moist and cool until you can get them potted. Some people choose to use a rooting hormone to hasten the rooting process. It isn’t really necessary but it can help. Use 1 part sand to one part peat moss in your pots and cover with a cut plastic bottle or place in a greenhouse to retain moisture.

It is best to start with just one or two plants at first. Once you get the hang of it you can “branch” out from there.

Chose something to grow from a cutting this year, tell us what you are going to root and share photos if you are already in progress.

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