How to Propagate Plants With Stem Cuttings

Plants are subject to the laws of nature and their primary purpose for existence in the grander scheme of the plant kingdom is the continuation of their species.

They reproduce via seeds and pollen, root cuttings and runners and many can even reproduce via stem cuttings. Imagine reproducing a Human being from a severed finger – well that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon, but from a severed branch you can easily reproduce a clone of the plant from whence it came.

Rooting plant cuttings is a relatively simple technique of increasing your herbaceous inventory. The process requires little more than a sharp, clean cutting tool and a decent medium.

Producing New Plants from Stem Cuttings

Rooting Hormone for cuttings enhances your success rate and expedites the plants progress- but in most cases it is purely optional.

Edible Plants that can be propagated from cuttings include Rosemary and Mint family plants such as peppermint and spearmint, currants, basil, lemon verbena, some nightshade family plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, and others.

The technique and timing varies slightly from plant to plant. A cutting is generally started from a softwood cutting.

Softwood is the very newest, green and flexible woody or fibrous parts of the plant, a new section that has not had time to harden and its vascular system is still flowing with embryonic plant hormones. Softwood cuttings should be taken in late spring or early summer as the new growth approaches maturity.

Cuttings should be taken from a healthy and well hydrated plant. A dry, aged and Desiccated cutting does not allow for the process of cellular regeneration that takes place in cuttings.
Dawn is the best time to take a cutting, the plant tissues contain the most moisture early in the morning.

When you’ve selected a healthy plant that you’d like to clone remove the cutting from the parent plant with a sharp clean implement. The blade is best sterilized with a flame or alcohol to avoid introducing unwelcome pathogens to the parent plant or the cutting- what you didn’t sterilize it ?! Oh well – Ciest la vie – chances are you’ll get away with it just fine , but maybe not.

Your cuttings should be 4″-6″ in length and from the upper part of the plant. Remove any excess foliage / leaves, flowers or buds from the lower third of the cutting, leaving only a bare stem. This reduces the amount of leaves that must be fed by the cutting and cuts down on lost moisture.

Cut any leaf nodes. Leaf nodes are small swellings in a plant stem from which leaves emerge. The area of the leaf node contains plant tissue known as meristem. Meristem is undifferentiated plant tissue from which new cells are formed.

Producing New Plants from Stem Cuttings

The cells of the meristem will rapidly divide to form a callus and seal bruised ends of the cutting. Bruising in the area of the meristem will expedite rooting. You should also be making an small shallow cut on either side of the cuttings lower end to expose more of the cambium.

To ensure that your new cutting grows up to be a fine upstanding member of the plant kingdom you’ll want it to have every possible advantage. A good mediumis the first step. Some plants will regenerate just fine in water alone, some will rot and die. The best medium is a soilless one similar to that used in hydroponics.

The best rooting media available [IMO] is a 50/50 blend of Perlite and vermiculite. Perlite is composed of minerals that have been subjected to high heat which caused it to “plump” up and expand.

Vermiculite retains an amazing amount of water, 200% – 300% by weight. Perlite does not retain nearly enough water, it moves water through transpiration, but does not actually hold or retain any substantial quantity. A 50-50 blend of perlite and vermiculite works well in that it allows for hydration and oxygenation of the developing roots.

Oasis Root CubesOasis Cubes for rooting Plant Cuttings will also suffice, they offer a decent starting environment for seedlings and plant cuttings.

Rooting Hormone is optional, it does improve your odds – but it is not 100% essential. Any container you use should not be so shallow that it will not support the anticipated root depth. Moisten your media and place the cutting with the cut end buried in the media about an inch and a half deep.

Place a clear plastic bag with small slits in it over the plant and container and keep it at 60 to 75 F. The slits are necessary to allow the plant to receive adequate air circulation – the bag holds in as much moisture as possible from the plants respiration.

The cutting should also not be in direct sunlight – it needs some light but a shaded or dimly lit area is best in the beginning.

The appearance of roots varies from plant to plant , conditions are another variable. On the average you should have roots developing in about two weeks, sometimes three to four. Once the root system is well established repot the plant or place it in your garden. If placing it outdoors – it would be advisable to harden it off first.