Garden Centre

Taking a softwood cutting
Taking and growing cuttings is the most important way of raising new plants without growing from seed. Gardening is not only about growing plants - it's about raising them. It enables you to take part in the growing process, not just watch it. The principle with cuttings is to take a strong live section off one plant, place it in a growing mixture such as potting compost, with the result that the section grows roots and becomes a new plant. You will discover two main types of cuttings. 1. Softwood - taken from perennials, annuals, and most shrubs. 2. Semi-ripe and hardwood - other shrubs and trees. Softwood cuttings are taken from spring through summer, when plants are forming new growth. As all plants grow, their stems or branches develop from unripe growth at the tips, this makes softwood cuttings.
you will need
A gardening knife or secateurs; a dibber or pencil; a supply of small pots; water with a spray or mist facility; a supply of multi-purpose or special cuttings compost; a hormone rooting powder; labels; watering can with a rose; a plant propagator or a clear plastic bag with four small pieces of cane; elastic band.
With your knife or secateurs cut off at an angle a healthy new side stem which is roughly 6 - 12 cm long and which has between 3 and 5 pairs of leaves. The stem should be non-flowering (it will not have a bud at the tip). The cut should be made just below a leaf node - the point on a stem where leaves grow from. Remove the bottom pair of leaves so there is a section of bare stem 3 - 5 cm long. You now have your cutting. Itís a good idea to take several cuttings of the same plant, to maximise your success rate.
Fill a small plastic pot 3/4 full with compost. Prick a hole in the compost with your dibber or pencil and insert the cutting. Identify your cuttings with a label - like humans, one baby plant looks very like another. Water the cuttings when you have finished the pot.
To retain moisture and warmth place a small plastic bag over the cutting and fix it with an elastic band around the pot. An alternative to individual pots is a special propagator with electric heating and a plastic lid. These usually go in a greenhouse but there are models that fit on a windowsill. Place your cuttings in a greenhouse or on a draught free windowsill.
Your cuttings should begin making roots within days. They will need regular (daily) watering with a fine mist. As they grow, the young plants will need to be moved to larger pots and out of the propagator, or have the plastic bag removed.
Before being planted in your garden a cutting will need to grow on for about a year. After potting into larger pots, the young plants will need acclimatising to the outside world. This is called hardening off and means being put somewhere where the temperature is normal but there is no risk of overnight frost. If you have a cold frame in your garden this is the best place, otherwise a sheltered spot against a wall or fence. Then the proud moment when your new plant is set out in the chosen spot in your garden.
Use a clean knife to cut a side shoot from the parent plant.
Make a hole in the compost for the prepared cutting.
Fix a plastic bag over the pot to retain heat and moisture.

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