|By Carol Yaw
| Propagation by cutting is a highly efficient
method of reproducing a plant that is an exact genetic replica. This method
preserves unique and exceptional plants that have different or variable
results when grown from seed.
Other means of propagation besides seeds, such as cuttings, are usually
taken from mid-spring through mid-fall; however, with a heated propagator
or heat mat they can be rooted earlier. If you have a parent plant that
is showing signs of distress and you are concerned, it is worth taking a
cutting -particularly if it is a rare species. The resulting plant will
be identical to the parent plant.
Some cutting hints:
- One of the most popular types of cuttings is a tip cutting - the tip
of the bud and a length of stem containing 2 or 3 nodes. Don't take
too large of a cutting; the growing tip is going to root faster than
- Use a clean, sharp pruner or one-sided razor blade so that you avoid
crushing the tissue.
- Rooting hormones can encourage rooting of difficult plants and increase
the number of roots on others. (Follow manufacturer's label for suggested
- Use a free-draining medium such as lime-free coarse sand, or sand
mixed with sterile mix. It should be moisture-retentive and free of
disease, weeds and insects.
- Retain humidity - cuttings have no roots to take up water, but they
lose it through their leaves. By covering them with humidity domes (or
for taller cuttings the Extra Tall Dome) you prevent them from drying
out until they can support themselves. Occasionally, provide ventilation
by uncovering them for an hour or two.
- Using a cloning machine is a simple and highly effective process.
The process involves continuously spraying a cloning solution (root
growth stimulant) onto your stem, root or leaf cutting. Roots appear
in 3 to 10 days, and your cutting is ready to transplant in 7 to 21
days, with a healthy, well-developed root system. When used indoors,
results are better when the cuttings daily receive 16-18 hours of artificial
- Check plants often - remove any dead cuttings or fallen leaves.
- Don't over-water, but check for moisture more often if using heat.
They will dry out faster.
- Keep your cuttings in a warm, bright spot, out of direct sunlight.
- Harden off once roots appear, by gradually introducing the newly formed
plants to outside weather conditions. Charley's has an excellent selection
of patio plant houses to protect them until they can tolerate cooler