Plant cuttings are parts of a parent plant that are severed and then placed in a rooting medium, such as peat moss or water, until the cutting roots and can be replanted as a new plant. As opposed to thinning a plant, which involves separating a plant’s roots and replanting immediately, growing a plant from cuttings takes a little more time, but it is an especially popular option when the parent plant needs to remain in tact. Heirloom gardening is a popular practice where plants grown from cuttings are used.
Nearly all types of plants are suitable to be grown from cuttings, although softwood and semi-hardwood plant cuttings are especially suitable. Common softwood plants that can be grown easily in this way include the Rose of Sharon, dogwood, hydrangea, butterfly bush, clematis, lilac, and spirea. Popular semi-hardwoods that grow from cuttings include azalea, boxwood, holly and rhododendron. Additionally, many common houseplants can also be grown with this method.
Though most plant varieties are suitable for propagating from cuttings, some can be more difficult than others when it comes to getting roots to form. For plants that show resistance to forming roots, a rooting hormone may be necessary.
To harvest a cutting, a gardener should select a healthy plant and sever it at the proper time, usually in the summer for most plants. Softwood cuttings should be taken from the current year’s growth, while semi-hardwood plants should have a woody base. Gardeners should avoid taking very young or tender stems, as they tend to be more difficult to grow.
Certain plants, such as the pothos, which is a popular, hearty houseplant, are easy to grow from cuttings and require only placing the harvested stem in water until roots have formed. Most plants require a mixed medium free of fertilizers, and peat moss mixed with sand makes a good rooting medium for most cuttings. If a gardener is unsure of the proper method for growing a plant from a cutting, he or she can visit a garden center before starting for advice on rooting mediums, the need for hormones, and growing and transplanting care.