Cuttings in a Water Bottle

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Cuttings of Hypoestes in my water bottle during a recent trip. Photo: laidbackgardener.wordpress.com

You’re traveling and someone offers you a few cuttings to take home? Rather than having to look for a plastic bag and a piece of damp paper towel to wrap around the base of the stem to keep it moist (the traditional way of transporting cuttings, but rather difficult to do when you’re in a garden setting), think about another resource that you probably already have on hand: your water bottle!

If it’s full or nearly full, pour out a bit of water so that only the end of the cut will remain soaking in it: a depth of 3 cm to 5 cm will suffice. Now, if it’s not already done, remove the cutting from the plant (you can simply pinch it between your thumb and forefinger if it’s a softwood cutting, but a penknife can be handy for a woody one). True enough, a clean cut is best … but don’t worry about that at this point: you can always give the cutting a more even cut when you get home.

Next, slip the cutting into the bottle. You may have to compress or squash the foliage a bit to get it into a bottle with a narrow neck, but that won’t hurt the cutting in the long run. Now just screw the cap on the water bottle and you’re ready to travel … although you may have to buy another bottle of water for your own needs!

Obviously, a wide-necked water bottle (as seen in the photo) is more convenient, as it will be easier to extract the cutting when you are get home. However, even a narrow-necked bottle, such as a commercial water bottle, will suffice if necessary, as you can always cut open it with scissors or a sharp knife once you’re at home. And if you’ve never taken a cutting before, read Rooting Cuttings Step by Step.

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Root the cuttings inside a plastic bag to conserve humidity. 

Do root such cuttings in a humid environment, such as by covering them with a clear plastic bag, as they’ll have become used to 100% humidity inside your water bottle.

How Long?

How long can a cutting can remain sealed inside bottle—and probably also without much light!—before it starts to rot? Normally at least two weeks, probably longer.

Have a nice trip… and bring back lots of new plants!

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