Grow new from old
Plants have an extraordinary ability to regenerate and grow from a single piece of stem, root or leaf. Because of this, taking cuttings and replanting them allows for the production of more plants – this is how many plants are propagated in the nursery and garden industry. It’s easy and cheap, too!
1. Heel cutting
If you consider yourself a gardening novice, increase the chances of new plant life by taking a heel cutting. This involves pulling a baby shoot off the parent plant by hand, leaving a ‘heel’ (a little strip of the old stem) attached. You don’t need specialist equipment and the root is more reliable.
Here’s how: Pull a healthy shoot tip sideways, away from the main stem – a sliver of the old plant should come away with it. Dip it in a rooting hormone gel, such as Yates Clonex Purple, or honey, and plant in a pot of seed-raising mix.
2. Soft tip cutting
Taking cuttings from actively growing soft shoot tips is ideal at this time of year. To prevent them drying out, take your cuttings in the morning and place in a plastic bag or bucket of water. Avoid snipping shoots that are in bud, as the plant will focus its energy on flowering, rather than producing roots.
Here’s how: Using sterile, sharp scissors or secateurs, cut a healthy piece of the stem, about 10cm long. To plant, use your fingers to strip the leaves from the base of the cutting – this exposes more of the cambium, which is where the new roots will form. Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone gel or honey. Fill a pot with seed-raising mix and use a pencil to make a small hole, then put the cutting in the hole and backfill with soil.
3. Large leaf cuttings
An easy way to propagate is by taking leaf cuttings. For plants with large leaves, such as hibiscus, hydrangea or camellia, try using a single whole leaf.
Here’s how: Using sharp, sterile scissors or secateurs, make a cut beneath a node (where leaf connects to the stem). Gently scrape the base of the cutting, then dip the end in rooting hormone gel or honey. Plant in a pot filled with seed-raising mix. To reduce moisture loss, fold the top of the leaf over and secure with a rubber band. Alternatively, cut the leaf in half.
Caring for cuttings
• Position pots in the shade and keep cuttings moist by watering two or three times a week.
• After planting, water cuttings with a seaweed solution such as Seasol or Yates Uplift, to help establish a good root system.
• Encourage faster rooting by covering the pot with a clear plastic bag or bottle with the base cut off – this creates a humid environment, promoting growth.
• After six weeks, gently tug on the cuttings; if they feel firm, re-pot into a quality potting mix.
Try these striking plants: