Taking cuttings

Smhdwdcuttings2Summer is a good time to take semi-hardwood cuttings of your favourite evergreen perennials to add to your garden or share with friends. The Full Moon phase is best for this job as root growth establishes more quickly when cuttings are taken in this phase.
Semi-hardwood cuttings are sections of stem that have stiffened enough not to wilt easily. Cuttings should be at least 10 cm long and contain about 5 nodes, so that at least 2 nodes can be covered with mix, and you have two sections for growth. A node is a joint in the stem where leaves or roots can form – and indicated by a line on the stem or a leaf scar. Pinch out the very tip of the cutting, and leave foliage on the next two nodes, then carefully remove foliage from the lower nodes and trim the cutting just below a node. (You will find a lot more detail about preparing different types of cuttings in Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting.) Then poke the cutting into a pot that contains organic potting mix with some washed river sand added to ensure easy drainage.
This week, I’ve been taking cuttings of thyme, rosemary, Arabian jasmine, zonal geraniums and some Hawaiian hibiscus varieties. We replace our commercial perennial herb plants every three or four years because younger plants produce the best growth for harvesting.
I cut the remaining leaves in half on geraniums and hibiscus (and any plants with large leaves) to conserve moisture in the cuttings, but leave some leaf material to photosynthesise (make energy to grow). Dipping the base of the cuttings in certified-organic honey can help stimulate root growth – you only need a teaspoonful in a shallow dish. I water the pots with an organic liquid fertiliser and poke the cuttings into the mix against the edge of the pot as it helps support the cuttings. The cuttings are kept consistently damp in a warm spot out of direct sunlight until they have formed roots and are ready for putting in individual pots or planting in the garden.
Most experts recommend that cuttings should be covered. However, we have found that the perennial culinary herbs, lavender, and a lot of plants with furry leaves don’t like the humidity provided by a cover. However, the pots of jasmine, hibiscus get covered with a large plastic juice or soft drink bottle with the base removed and the lid intact. At the first sign of new growth the lids will be removed to allow some ventilation.

2 thoughts on “Taking cuttings

  1. I am looking to buy an J.sambac `Flore-plena.’ in Australia. Also known as Arabian Jasmine or Duke of Tuscany Do you have any ideas of where I can purchase a plant from?
    Hi Debbie, Bunnings sometimes have them at the end of summer but, apparently, not at the moment. You could try asking them to order it in for you. Try this website, you can order by mail: http://www.herbcottage.com.au/jasmine-sambac.html – Lyn

  2. I have been trying for some years to grow a nsw xmas bush from a cutting and after following all advice from commercial experimentors I have failed. However never to give up ,i went to several different trees in the area ……all in flower and took cuttings, all sizes, all lengths and did the rooting powder bit and put them all in different parts of the yard. My wife kills maiden hair like a serial killer but we agreed to put one piece where she woulds leave it alone and behold it has taken over the whole back yard . So when all my 12 xmas bush cutting just up and died in less than a week ,i went and took a small piece about 10 centimeters long from a new cutting, but same trees, first week in sept. pulled of all the leaves ,leaving two at the very top and stuck it in rooting powder and a small pot with potting mix and stuck it in amongst the maiden hair. Here we are one week later and the dam thing is shooting like crazy. Can anyone explain to me what the trick is here.?
    The clue to your original lack of success Jack, is the timing of the cuttings. It is not a good idea to take cuttings from plants when they are flowering, the reason being that while they are putting energy into producing flowers and seeds they tend not to produce new roots and tip growth. If you look around your garden, you may notice that plants usually have a growth spurt after flowering is finished – so either before or after the flowering period is a better time to collect cuttings. Many propagation books specify that cuttings should be taken “from a non-flowering stem”. Pots containing cuttings should be kept damp in a partly shaded, warm spot until new growth is clearly visible. – Lyn

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