Growing plants from cuttings is an exciting and extremely rewarding process that can easily fill your entire home or garden (or indeed both — because why not?) with a sea of greenery. Propagating plants, whether to grow your own “collection” or to gift them to friends and relatives, can also, on the other hand, be a little scary.
You may worry that you will put an awful lot of hard work into a labor of love that will ultimately prove to be fruitless, and if you have valuable plants, you may even be afraid that you will overprune your original plant, to the point where it could be at risk of dying.
If you haven’t grown plants from cuttings before, it’s best to start with easy-going plants that are incredibly simple to grow from cuttings. When you succeed, you’ll know that you’ve played a critical role in growing an entirely new plant, and you will likely gain the confidence and experience you need to attempt to propagate more challenging plant species, too.
Which plants are the easiest to grow from cuttings — yes, even if you are trying to take a cutting and grow it for the very first time?
What Are Cuttings?
- 1 What Are Cuttings?
- 2 How Do You Usually Take Cuttings?
- 3 Azalea (Rhododendron)
- 4 Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
- 5 Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)
- 6 Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus)
- 7 Croton (Codiaeum Variegatum)
- 8 Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
- 9 Blueberry Bushes (Vaccinium Species)
- 10 Hydrangea
- 11 Boxwood (Buxus Species)
- 12 In Conclusion
A cutting is, simply said, a portion of a plant removed from the parent plant with the intention of planting it in order to create new growth — a new plant. A cutting can, when taken properly, prepared in the right way, and placed in a suitable potting medium, begin to take root and to grow, as long as it has access to the right soil, lighting, and moisture conditions.
There are four different types of cuttings, and in the cases of some plants you will be able to choose between them:
- Softwood cuttings are taken from a plant’s young and green new growth. These cuttings are taken early in the plant’s growth season, which is usually during the spring.
- Herbaceous cuttings are taken from herbs, plants that do not have woody growth cycles.
- Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from woody plants in the middle of the summer to early fall — these lengths may have grown during the plant’s previous growth cycle (meaning last year) and are hardier.
- Hardwood cuttings are taken from a woody plant’s established growth.
Cuttings are a great way to create an exact replica of the parent plant — which will help you carry on desirable traits, such as variegated leaves, which you are unlikely to achieve when you choose to propagate the same plant from seed. Taking and growing cuttings can also be an especially rewarding experience for brand new gardeners, as it is fun to look after new cuttings and to watch them turn into established plants that you can make someone else very happy with.
How Do You Usually Take Cuttings?
If you would like to propagate houseplants or garden plants from cuttings, it is always important to look up the right steps. That is because, although the process of taking cuttings and looking after them is broadly similar regardless of the plant species you are hoping to propagate, there are also important differences. The time during which you take the cutting, the maturity of the cutting, and its length can all make or break your odds of success. You will also need to be able to provide a potting medium, lighting conditions, and moisture conditions in which your cutting will thrive.
Having said that, here’s a look at the steps that are typically involved in the process of taking cuttings:
- Select a healthy and established parent plant to take cuttings from. These plants should be large enough that they will still have plenty of growth left after taking a cutting. Depending on the size of the plant, you can absolutely take multiple cuttings, too — but never rob the parent plant of all its growth!
- Select stems with “nodes”, new shoots from which twigs, buds, or leaves will form. These stems have the best chance of succeeding.
- The ideal length of a cutting varies from one plant species to the next, but if you are not sure what species you are dealing with, a cutting of six inches (15 centimeters) will usually suffice.
- Remove the cutting from the mature plant with a sharp garden tool such as pruning shears or a box knife. To avoid cross contamination with fungal spores or pests, sterilize the tool you use before each use.
- Once you have the cutting, you will need to remove all but the top few leaves to allow the cutting to take root.
- It usually helps to dip the fresh cutting in a rooting hormone powder, tapping the cutting after you have done this to shake off the excess.
- Plant the cutting in a potting medium suitable for the species you are hoping to propagate, taking care to pre-moisten the soil before planting. Poking a hole in the soil, with a tool like a pencil or wooden chopstick, helps you plant the cutting without damaging it.
- New cuttings typically need significantly more water than the mature plant to be able to take root. To find out how your cutting is coming along, you can gently tug on the base of the stem. Do you feel resistance? The plant is starting to grow roots! (Don’t yank the cutting out of the soil, though, as this can damage its brand new root growth.)
- Cuttings should be placed in similar lighting conditions mature plants do best in, and should be protected from grazing animals and pests.
We hope you’re feeling a little more prepared to take your own cuttings now, because here’s a look at some of the very easiest plants to propagate through cuttings!
The azalea is an absolutely stunning flowering shrub known for its gorgeous blooms. Azalea is a woody deciduous or evergreen shrub which is native to areas in Asia, Europe, and North America, and that can successfully be grown all over the world. This plant is part of the Ericaceae family, and the Rhododenron genus has over 1,000 wonderful species to choose from!
Azaleas famously produce attractive bell or funnel shaped flowers in the spring. These flowers can come in many different colors, depending on the species — your azalea bush could have yellow, white, orange, red, pink, or purple flowers! The leaves of the azalea bush are glossy and leathery in a deep shade of green. This plant will attract pollinaters to your garden, and even hummingbirds if you live in the right region!
The azalea bush is also known to be pretty easy to propagate through semi-hardwood cuttings, and if you would like to do just that, you will need to:
- Take your azalea cuttings in the late spring. Making sure to pick a young and strong stem, cut off around five inches from the parent plant. Next, remove all the extra foliage, leaving the top pair of leaves.
- Using a knife, scrape the bark off the bottom part of the cutting, around an inch (one centimeter). For the best results, dip your new cutting in a rooting hormone powder, and shake of the excess.
- Now, it’s time to plant your new cutting in moist soil! A good choice for soil is a 50-50 perlite and peat moss mixture, as well-draining soil is a must! Do be sure to prepare the soil before you take your cutting, as it’s important to plant azalea cuttings right away.
- Put a plastic bag over the cutting, this will keep the cutting humid and moist.
- After this, you’ll want to keep the soil moist and regularly check if it is rooting. Once you do notice your azalea cutting is starting to take root, you can get rid of the plastic bag, while still keeping a close eye on the cutting.
Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
Pothos is notorious for being a delightfully low-maintenance plant, but it isn’t just easy to care for, but also to propagate. Pothos is a perrenial evergreen that is often grown as a houseplant. It is native to the South Pacific region and is part of the Araceae family.
These wonderful plants are popular because of their gorgeous vibrant and glossy green leaves, with their variegated versions being especially sought after. The leaves can come in shades of green, yellow, white, and any cutting you take should have the same shade as the parent plant. Pothos often grows to be around six to eight inches (up to 20 centimeters) tall and has a wonderfully wide spread of up to 13 feet (nearly four meters), though pothos kept as houseplants are often pruned to smaller sizes.
Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to propagate a pothos:
- Picking a healthy and strong stem with three or more leaves and cut a piece off about an inch below the lowest leaf, cutting it at an angle. Now, cut off the leaves at the bottom.
- Take your cutting and put it in a jar of water, without the leaves touching the water. After you notice roots, it’s time to move your cutting to a pot with soil.
- Once fully planted, take care of your cutting well, watering it regularly, and placing it in a spot with bright but indirect sunlight for best results.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)
The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) bears that name for a reason — these gorgeous deciduous shrubs give rise to wonderfully-fragrant yellow, lavender, white, pink, or blue flowers that act as butterfly magnets between June and September. They’re a joy to have in the garden, so if you have a butterfly bush already, your friends are probably lining up to beg for cuttings. So long as you’re willing to do a little work, they’re in luck — Buddleia davidii is notoriously easy to propagate through cuttings. (Unless you’re hoping to gift this plant to someone else, there’s no need to bother with cuttings, as butterfly bushes are prolific spreaders.)
Here’s a look at the steps you’d need to take to start a new butterfly bush from cuttings:
- Choose a healthy and established Buddleia davidii to take cuttings from; these cuttings should be semi-hardwood and taken during the summer.
- Using a sharp pair of pruning scissors, which should be sterilized, take a six-inch (15-centimeter) length from the very tip of a branch of your choosing. The cut should be made just underneath a new bud.
- Next, detach the foliage from the bottom third of your cutting, allowing more leaves to stay in place than with most other cuttings.
- Dip your butterfly bush cutting in rooting hormone powder to help it succeed, tapping it to shake off the excess.
- Place the new cutting in a peat moss and perlite potting medium, watering it until it is evenly moist and covering the pot with a plastic covering to trap moisture in.
- It will take, at most, six weeks for your cutting to start rooting!
Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus)
Rosemary is famous for its incredibly fragrant and edible leaves used to give flavor to many dishes. If you didn’t know, rosemary is an evergreen perennial shrub that can grow rather tall in the wild. Native to countries in the Mediterranean, rosemary is part of the Lamiaceae (mint) family and is often used as either an ornamental plant or a tasty herb. Rosemary is also notorious for being supremely easy to propagate and grow.
Propagating rosemary through cuttings is simple, and all you’ll need to do is:
- Prepare a container with holes for draining, filling it with a soilless potting mix.
- Rosemary should be grown through softwood cuttings taken in the spring or summer. Snip off a piece that’s a couple of inches (up to eight centimeters) long. Get rid of bottom layer of leaves but make sure to leave five or more leaves.
- Use rooting hormone powder if you’d like a higher chance of your cutting growing.
- Plant the cutting, placing it in a sport where it can get plenty of warmth and indirect sunlight. Mist your cutting every day to help it succeed and keep the soil moist too.
- If you are lucky, you should notice your rosemary cutting take root in about two to three weeks.
Croton (Codiaeum Variegatum)
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is a beautiful ornamental shrub with colorful variegated leaves, native to the subtropical regions of Asia and the Pacific. They thrive outdoors, in the garden, but some people attempt to grow croton as houseplants, too. These moisture-loving plants rarely bloom when grown indoors, but are lucky quite easy to propagate through cuttings.
To give starting a new croton through cuttings a go, simply:
- Make sure that you can offer your fresh cuttings a temperature range that consistently hovers between 70 and 80 °F (21 to 27 °C).
- Cut a length of four to six inches (10 to 15 centimeters) off an established and healthy stem, taking care that you make the cut just above a node, at a slight angle. Leave at least three leaves in place.
- Dip your cutting in rooting hormone powder.
- Plant the new cutting in a rich potting medium about an inch (three centimeters) into the moistened soil. You can create a suitable hole with a pencil.
- Keep the soil evenly moist, and place your cutting in a bright spot where it will receive plenty of indirect sunlight. To keep moisture in better, place a clear plastic bag over the top of the cutting.
- Croton cuttings will start to take root after a month or so — be patient and keep watering the cutting.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
Spider plants are definitely among the easiest plants to propagate through cuttings, and even someone who’s never tried propagating a plant through cuttings before won’t have much trouble with this plant at all. The spider plant is a herbaceous perennial that is usually kept as a houseplant. Their leaves are long and can come in either a vibrant green or a variegated version with white and green stripes.
Here’s what you’ll need to do the propagate a spider plant:
- Spider plants develop small plantlets that can create roots on their own. Once you notice this, you can cut them off. Cut these plantlets off the stem of an existing spider plant, making sure not to harm the roots.
- Safely transfer the plantlet to a pot or plastic container with well-draining soil and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- It should only take a while for your cutting to start growing!
Blueberry Bushes (Vaccinium Species)
Blueberry bushes won’t only surprise you with antioxidant-rich berries during the late spring to early summer, but are also lovely ornamental shrubs that have a well-earned reputation for being easy to grow and care for. Their leathery green leaves turn to a gorgeous deep red shade in the fall, and can make for excellent living hedges. The best part? Blueberry bushes are easy to propagate through cuttings, too!
- If you have a healthy mature blueberry bush, you have two choices — you can take softwood cuttings during the spring, or hardwood cuttings in the late winter, just before a new spring rolls around.
- Using a sterile and sharp pruning tool, remove five inches (13 centimeters) from the top of a healthy branch. Gently detach all but two or three of the leaves.
- Dip your blueberry bush cutting in a rooting hormone powder for the best results.
- Blueberry bush cuttings do best if you start them indoors, in small pots prepared with a soilless potting mix. These cuttings need a consistently warm and wind-free environment to succeed.
- Once you have planted the cutting, simply keep misting it to keep the soil moist. No plastic covering is required, but blueberry cuttings do need bright and indirect sunlight.
- It can take two months, or even longer, for blueberry bush cuttings to take root — and the slow progress is by no means a sign that your cutting has failed. Just be patient!
Hydrangea shrubs are treasured for their large and uniquely attractive flowers, which can bloom in shades of white, blue, pink, red, or even green. These ornamentals look like they would be rather hard to tend to, but that’s far from true — hydrangea species and cultivars are rather easy to propagate through cuttings, so long as you follow the right steps. Transplanting them to your garden is a little harder, however.
To grow hydrangea species through cuttings, simply:
- Select a healthy and new branch that’s appeared during the growing season that’s just finished in the very early fall, around September.
- Using sterile pruning shears, take an eight-inch (20-centimeter) cutting with at least one node and two leaves.
- If there are leaves on the bottom half of the resulting hydrangea cutting, remove this foliage.
- Place your cutting in a small and well-draining container filled with potting soil, keep the soil evenly moist, and use a plastic covering to seal moisture in.
- Hydrangea cuttings take root quickly. You may have roots after 14 days, or you may have to wait up to a month.
- Plant your cutting in the garden in the very early spring, to allow it to further develop its root system.
Boxwood (Buxus Species)
Boxwoods are large shrubs that often feature heavily in landscaping. These evergreen shrub are native to countries in Asia and Europe. They offer gorgeous and dense vibrant green foliage for your garden. Their leaves can also be yellow. Though it will depend on the species, most boxwoods can grow to be around two to eight feet (just over two meters) tall and wide.
To propagate boxwood species through cuttings:ropagate a boxwood plant, you will need to:
- Take stem cuttings during the middle of the summer, cutting off a length of three to four inches (eight to 10 centimeters).
- Detach all but a few of the leaves, and, using a sharp tool, scrape the bark off the lower part of your boxwood cutting.
- Plant your boxwood cutting in a sandy or peat moss potting medium.
- Lightly mist the cutting every day, and use a plastic covering to seal in the moisture.
- Roots should start to develop after a few months, so long as the cutting is kept in full sun.
- Transplant the boxwood cutting to your garden in the spring.
Once you’ve mastered the art of propagating “beginner” plants through cuttings, you’ll soon be able to tackle species that need a little more care with confidence! We all have to start somewhere, and you really can’t go wrong with these easy-going plants.