Cuttings: Tip cuttings (taken from the tip of
plants) are used to propagate such common house plants as the velvet
plant and jade plant. Tip cuttings are generally 3 to 5 inches
long and are removed from the parent plant at a point just below a leaf
Stem Cuttings: Swedish ivy, pilea, pothos,
philodendron, fittonia, etc. can be propagated by stem cuttings
(sections of stems with leaves attached). The cuttings should have three
or four leaves for best rooting. Many outdoor plants such as most
herbs, and even tomatoes, marigolds, and flowering shrubs can be
propagated this way.
Helpful hint: for leggy houseplant vines, consider ground-layering
instead - just loop the long stem back so a portion touches the soil
surface in the pot and peg or weight it in place. It will root
nicely without muss or fuss and you can later cut the loop in the stem
at an appropriate location.
Heel Cuttings: Woody stems fare best for rooting
when a bit of the bark is taken with the shoot. This is usually
called a "heel" cutting. The best way to get a bit of
the "heel" is to bend the woody shoot down and tear it, taking
a bit of the bark below the shoot with it. Trim the thin tip off,
dip in rooting hormone, and treat it like any other type of
cutting. This works well for roses, azaleas, philadelphus, and
many other flowering shrubs.
Cuttings: Cane cuttings are used for propagating dumbcane
(dieffenbachia - cordyline variety shown at right), Chinese evergreen
and similar plants which produce cane-like or leafless stems. The
cane is cut up into small pieces 2 to 3 inches long. Place the
cuttings on their sides slightly below the surface of the rooting medium
(bury it to a depth of about 1/3 of the diameter of the cane). A
bud will eventually sprout and form a new stem when the cutting is
rooted (Figure 2 above). Keep the soil moist but not
wet. Keep in bright light, with no direct sun. Covering with
a plastic tent or inverted pop bottle will help hold in humidity as it
When new growth appears, usually at the outer tips of the stem
cutting, the plant is ready to gradually acclimatize to room
conditions. Lift the plastic or other humidity-retaining covering
a bit higher every day for a week. Mist the young plant
occasionally. At this point you can repot, planting it a bit deeper and
after it is established, you can treat it as a mature plant.
Scions: Leafless grape vine cuttings and various
deciduous shrub cuttings are often taken in late fall for rooting.
These are called Scions, and are rooted differently. Take hardwood
cuttings in autumn, remove all leaves, and cut into eight to 10-inch
lengths. Plant the cuttings in a well-protected, sunny place with
only the top bud above ground. When freezing weather approaches,
mulch the cuttings with several inches of pine straw to keep them from
freezing. Rooted cuttings should begin growth the following
spring. They can be moved to their permanent location once growth
is established (usually by mid-summer).
A single leaf, carefully detached from many houseplants is often
sufficient to start a new plant, and is the preferred method for
propagating many plant, e.g., Adromischus, African Violets (shown),
Crassulas, many Kalanchoes, Sansevieria and many cacti.
For succulents, the leaf is allowed to dry for a few days so that the
tissues seal and callus over at the base and is then placed against the
edge of the plant pot with the stem end touching the potting
medium. This usually works better than burying the bottom end of
the leaf as it is less likely to rot. Keep the soil moist but not
wet, and cover with plastic to retain humidity. After some time,
roots will be seen to form, followed by small leaves as the new plant
starts to develop.
Leaf Cuttings: are prepared from leaves with or without
their stalks (called petioles). Roots and leaves will eventually
form at the base of the leaf (Figure 3). Peperomia and
African violets are commonly started by whole leaf cuttings.
Leaf Section Cuttings: can be used for
propagating plants like the Rex begonia and snake plant. The leaves are
cut into pieces, with the edge of the cuttings closest to the base of
the parent plant inserted into the rooting medium (Figure 4).
Bud Cuttings: consist of a single leaf attached to a piece
of 1 to 1 1/2 inch stem. The dormant bud, located where the leaf
stalk joins the stem will give rise to a new shoot and branches (Figure
5). The cutting should be inserted in the rooting medium with
the bud about 1/2 inch below the surface. English ivy is easily
propagated by this method.
Cuttings from succulents or cactus should be allowed to dry for 1 to
7 days, depending upon species and size, before placing in a rooting
medium. The drying period will cause the cut edges to
callous. This will prevent the absorption of excessive amounts of
moisture that could result in rotting.
Grafting is a method of providing a more delicate plant with a hardy,
vigorous rootstock. For rare plants, grafting is the only way of
ensuring survival. Rare but desirable natural "sports"
can only be propagated this way. For example, the relatively new
single-trunk apples are all developed from a "sport" that grew
off a McIntosh apple tree in BC about 30+ years ago. Several
grafting configurations are used, depending on the material to be
used. Strict attention to hygiene is essential and cutting
implements should be sterilized by dipping in methylated spirits or a
diluted bleach and water solution.
Grafting Stock: In all cases the stock must be
compatible with the graft to prevent rejection, which usually means the
same genus or at least the same family. Check with your Country
Extension Service or local Master Gardener, Agricultural College or
reputable nursery for suitable rootstock for the plant you want to
Flat Grafts: are probably the simplest system for
a beginner to attempt, and suitable for plants with fleshy stems (e.g.
cacti and succulents). The stock is first cut flat with a single
clean cut with a sterile scalpel blade, razor blade or very sharp knife
at a suitable height, usually above soil level. The material to be
grafted (scion) is then cut cleanly across and the cut surface placed on
top of the cut stock in such a way that at least part of the vascular
elements just beneath the bark on both pieces are in contact. The
graft is held in place with an elastic band which goes under the bottom
of the pot at its other end, or with "splints" gently but
firmly tied to support the joint.
Side Grafting: is a variant of flat grafting used for
relatively thin material in which the stock and scion are both cut at an
angle to increase the area of cut stem and increase the chance of the
vascular elements beneath the bark making contact. This works well
for most fruit trees, and even roses.
Split Grafting: is another method used for thin
material, in which the end of the scion is cut into a wedge shape and
inserted into a "V" shaped incision in the stock. The stock is
then bound tightly with cotton to hold the two parts together.
This works best for woody stems, not fleshy ones. This type of
grafting is often used to create topiary effects where one part of a
shrub is grafted onto another shoot on the same plant - e.g. (Weeping)
and Layering and
and Budding for more propagation methods.
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