Propagate Trees and Shrubs from Cuttings - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Propagate Trees and Shrubs from Cuttings

If you’d like to have a few more of those prized lilac shrubs in your yard, now’s the time to put your green thumb to work. Many ornamental shrubs and trees easily can be propagated by stem cuttings.

Cuttings taken from the succulent, new growth that occurred this spring also are referred to as softwood cuttings. These cuttings usually root easier and faster than cuttings taken from harder wood later in the season. However, softwood cuttings do wilt more readily and thus require close attention to water and relative humidity.

Make cuts just below a node, the area where the leaf joins the stem. A 4-6 inch length is ideal. Remove the lower leaves and insert the cut ends into a moist rooting media such as vermiculite, perlite or potting mix. Placing cuttings directly into water is not recommended because it deprives the developing roots of oxygen. The resulting root system is weak and spindly and does not adapt well to a soil environment.

Relative humidity can be maintained at a high level by enclosing the rooting container in a plastic bag, but be sure to poke a few holes through the plastic to allow air circulation.

Place your cuttings in bright but indirect light while they are rooting. Check the media frequently for watering needs. When roots reach about 1 inch long, the cuttings are ready to pot up in a good quality soil mix. Move the potted cuttings to a bright, sunny location, such as a south-facing window.

It may take several years for your cutting to reach the size of what you would buy at the nursery. And, if you’re looking for flowers and/or ornamental fruit, it may take a few extra years for your cuttings to become mature enough. But you’ll have that special satisfaction of having raised the plant from just a little cutting

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Disclaimer: Reference to products is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in these articles assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
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