Grow Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings
With a few simple tools and the use of a windowsill you can save yourself
some money and have a great deal of enjoyment growing your own shrubs.
The trickiest part of propagating shrubs from softwood cuttings is
knowing when a shrub's stems are ready to be cut. Softwood, the section
of a shrub's stem that's neither brand new nor fully mature, is the
stage of growth on a deciduous woody plant that is best suited for rooting
The newer, green growth that lies at the end of the stem will rot before
roots are produced, and the older, more woody growth at the base of
the stem has a harder time putting out roots.
The best time to take cuttings is early in the day, when shoots are fully hydrated. Lateral shoots, or those that grow from a leader, make the best cuttings. I avoid weak, thin shoots, as well as overly thick, heavy ones. As soon as I take a cutting, I nestle it into a plastic basin that I've filled with damp paper towels. The towels will keep my cuttings moist and cool until I'm ready to head back inside and pot them up. They also shade my cuttings from the sun. Exposure to direct sunlight, even for only a few minutes, can cause irreparable damage. I also avoid taking cuttings on hot days, when plants may be wilting.Keep cutting short to conserve energy.
A cutting's size is also something to consider. I like my cuttings
to contain at least two sets of leaves. I use pruning shears to cut
the stem from the shrub at about one-inch below the second leaf node.
Since the length between leaf nodes differs from plant to plant, the
size of a cutting, using this rule of measurement, will vary. The average
cutting should measure between 3 and 5 inches.
Insert the stem into a six-pack or seedling tray filled with a moistened mixture of perlite and peat mix. The potting mixture we use is 60 percent perlite and 40 percent peat mix. This mix provides the good drainage and maximum aeration that new roots need. Cuttings placed into a mix that holds moisture is apt to rot before rooting occurs.
Once the cuttings are inserted into the soil, I trim the remaining leaves in half to cut down on transpiration loss. These leaves are still performing photosynthesis, even though there are no roots to draw moisture out of the soil. Next I soak the cuttings and the compost with a watering can with a fine rose head and allow the excess water to drain away for 10 mins.
Finally, I place the tray into a milky white plastic bag and seal the end to create a small humid micro climate , which will create the conditions needed for rooting to take place. I then place the tray or pot on a sheltered windowsill away from direct sunlight.
Check for root development
Some cuttings root faster than others do. After four to five weeks,
I check the bottom of each tray for small white roots that may be poking
out of the drainage holes. If none are visible, another way to check
for root development is by gently pulling on a cutting. If it shows
some resistance, then it's a good bet that roots have developed. If
it pulls out of the tray easily, I inspect the stem for very fine root
hairs. If no roots are apparent, I place the cutting back into the tray,
reseal the bag, and wait a few more weeks before checking again.
37 Shrubs That Are Easy to Propagate from Cuttings
Many deciduous garden shrubs, can be propagated by softwood cuttings taken in summer. The ones listed below tend to root quickly and grow into viable shrubs in a short period of time.
From a reader: I've created a fun hobby for myself by doing cuttings on poinsettia plants and I've actually made a little money at it so I thought I'd pass the idea,along to others. For those that don't recall, poinsettias are those big red flowers that you see on Christmas cards and in all the stores around the holidays. They're actually a shrub and in the right climate can grow almost 10 feet! I follow pretty much the same methods described here and will grow a dozen or more plants over the summer and fall, then sell them to friends and family right around the holidays. Some of my friends make their own photo Christmas cards and there is nothing more thrilling than getting Christmas cards with one of my big beautiful poinsettias featured on the front! After the holidays are over, I offer to collect any still living plants if the owners don't want them. Most people tend to throw them out once the Christmas season is over and are usually glad to give them back to me instead of tossing it in the bin. I certainly don't get rich off this hobby and I have no interest in starting a commercial poinsettia farm or anything like that, but the project pays for itself, allows my friends and family to get beautiful, healthy plants at about half the price of stores and its a lot of fun!