5 Steps For Taking Perfect Cuttings
25th April 2017
April is an exciting time of year – part of the season of buds and bees, salads and shoots, new leaves and new life. This month heralds the arrival of spring with lighter skies and lengthening days, but our island surrounded by cold seas brings heavy April showers and occasional wintry blasts.
The weather and condition of the ground impacts on growth at this point in the year. The warming soil temperature makes it a good month for dividing plants and transplanting them into new locations, and for taking soft tip cuttings of favourite shrubs and sowing seeds. Making cuttings is one of the easiest ways to multiply plants for your own garden or for giving them to friends. At the Herbal Haven nursery, hundreds of cuttings are produced each week and placed into plug trays that hold one hundred each. However, there are simple steps you can take in your own space for successful cuttings.
1. At this time of year you need a plant’s soft new growth as your cutting material. Firstly, have a pot of watered compost ready (preferably a seed sowing type).
2. The area on a stem where the leaves attach is called a node, and is rich in reproductive cells. This is where your new roots will grow from. Using clean secateurs, snip immediately below a nodal joint to produce a cutting of about 8cm in length, and then remove the lowest pair of leaves, or the lowest two if the leaves alternate on the stem.
3. Make a small hole in each corner of the pot of compost with a plant label or small stick. The corners of the pots are the warmest places for the cuttings. Place one in each hole – a depth which is about half the length of the stem is ideal, but keep any top leaves above soil level. Press the compost back against the cutting to hold it securely – there should be a bit of resistance if you were to gently try and pull it out.
4. Place a clear bag over the pot and hold it in place with an elastic band, then place it on a windowsill that receives light but is not too sunny. Take the bag off each day, turn it inside out and replace. This stops the build-up of fungal diseases and gives the plant fresh air. Water the pot when you take the bag off – the compost should not dry out, but you don’t want the base to sit in water either.
5. Once the stems start to elongate, there is a good chance that the roots are growing too – a gentle pull should confirm this. Remove the bag and leave for a couple of days before cutting back to just above the second pair of leaves from the base. Plants will always grow upwards as a single straight stem – this forces them to sprout new leaves from the two node points you have left, producing lovely bushy plants. Once you see some new foliage growing, remove and transplant your cuttings into individual pots to grow on.
As well as herbs for sale, there are plenty more growing tips, recipes and garden design ideas on Herbal Haven’s website – visit herbalhaven.com
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