Plant cuttings

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Cuttings are a really quick and easy way to create more plants, so more growth, more nature, more beauty. What can be better than that?

It is quicker than seed sowing and can be done almost any time of a year. Also it’s free, you can make cuttings from plants that you already grow, or the ones that grow in a park, or your friends’ gardens (of course you’d have to ask for a permission to pick a little shoot).

There are many different ways to take cuttings, but the one I want to use here is stem cuttings. It is the most popular way to do it and I dare say has better success rate from my experience.

How to do it:

1. First you’d need to find a plant that looks strong and healthy- no pests, diseases, there should be signs of growth.

2. For roots to appear there has to be enough oxygen and water, which is why good drainage is very important. You can use perlite (some say it’s not very sustainable because of it’s production costs to the environment) or sharp sand. The proportions should be half compost half sharp sand (or perlite).

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3. Then you select some shoots that look strong, not too soft but not too woody either. Cut them with a pair of scissors or secateurs. Try not to leave them out for too long, put them in a plastic bag to ensure they don’t dry out.

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4. You’ve got a shoot now, so you need to find a leaf node (the swollen bit on a stem connected to a leaf) and cut it just a bit below it. Below a node because a node is where the juvenile cells live and they will grow to be a root. Then remove most of the leaves and keep just the last two-three leaves at the top. Leaves are important for producing food the the plant at this stage, as there are no roots, but they also loose water. So the bigger leaf area the more water it will loose. If the top of the shoot looks quite soft, cut it off.

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5. If you have rooting powder which is made of rooting hormones and ensure quicker and healthier root formation, you can dip the bottom of your stem in it. But this is not necessary.

6. Now you are ready to insert your cuttings into the mix. Push it in to about 2/3 of the shoot inside the mixture. You can place several cuttings in a single pot. Not all of them will be successful so the more cuttings you have the better chance you have to produce a new plant.

7. The conditions that your cuttings need to root is warmth and moisture. Normally you would keep them in a propagator where you can control the temperature. The temperature should be just above +20C, although I’ve had success in propagating plants in lower temperatures. If you don’t have a propagator, you can put a transparent plastic bag or bottle over it and it will work like a mini propagator. The cuttings also need some indirect light.

Depending on a plant, on the type of cutting, the temperature and the time of the year, the roots could start coming anything between 10 days to a couple of months. You can quickly notice if your plant is doing alright. You can gently try pulling the plant up and if there’s resistance, that means the rooting process has started. Also another good way to check is if there is any new growth appearing on the shoot.

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