Gardening Plant propagation Shrubs

Growing Shrubs From Cuttings: So Simple!

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Shrubs are not hard to grow from cuttings. Source: gorgeousshinythings.blogspot.com

Most gardeners buy the shrubs that decorate their gardens as established plants… and pay quite dearly for the service. But did you know that you can grow your own from cuttings … and that it’s surprisingly easy as well? And, of course, it costs almost nothing, other than a smidgen of rooting hormone and a bit of potting soil.

Here’s how:

A Midsummer Activity

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Boxwood cuttings. Source: gorgeousshinythings.blogspot.com

You can take cuttings from woody plants at different stages, but when the plant is at the softwood stage, that is, when the stem is neither soft and green nor hard and fully woody, is the best time for most. This will likely be in early to mid-summer in most climates. Usually, if you bend the stem and it snaps, it’s a sign it’s out of the green stage and is at the right stage for taking cuttings.

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Clip off softwood stems and remove the lower leaves. Source: robbinslist.com & http://www.vectorportal.com, montage: laidbackgardener.blog

Use pruning shears to snip off a stem about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long. It should have at least 3 or 4 nodes (points where leaves are joined to the stem). If possible, choose a stem with neither flower buds or flowers, but if there are any, remove them. The angle of the cut is not nearly as important as you may have been told: anywhere between 45 and 90 degrees is just fine.

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Apply a bit of rooting hormone to the lower extremity of the cutting. Source: robbinslist.com, http://www.deviantart.com,  montage: laidbackgardener.blog

Remove all leaves on the bottom 4 inches (10 cm) or so of the stem. Apply a rooting hormone to the lower end and slip the cutting into a small pot filled with slightly moist potting soil, making sure at least two nodes are covered with soil. Water lightly.

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Slip the cutting and its pot into a clear plastic bag. Source: robbinslist.com, design.tutsplus.com, http://www.royalbag.com

Cuttings root best under high humidity, so cover the pot and young cutting with a transparent bag or mini-greenhouse and set it in a warm, well-lit location, but free of direct sun (to avoid overheating). Because you’ll be likely doing this in summer, you can root the cutting indoors or out. After a few weeks, you’ll see new leaves appear and that’s a sign the cutting has rooted.

You can then remove the bag or mini-greenhouse and acclimatize it to outdoor conditions.

Growing On

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Let the cutting grow to a larger size before using it in the landscape. Source: hedgerowrose.com

Your young shrub is probably still too small for use in the landscape, so give it a year or two to put on a bit of height. Many gardeners keep a corner of the vegetable garden for just that purpose. You can either plant in the garden or keep it in a pot as it gains in height and number of branches.


Shrub cuttings: so easy to do and … so inexpensive! You’ll ask yourself later why you haven’t always been starting shrubs that way!20180812A gorgeousshinythings.blogspot.com

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Growing Shrubs From Cuttings: So Simple!

  1. Excellent tips. Thank you.

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