I love to be able to grow new plants for free. In July I had a tray of annual plants that hadn’t sold so I pulled the plants out to compost. As I looked at the soil they had grown in, I thought what a waste of good soil. A thought crossed my mind, could I use it for something like cuttings? Not that I need more plants but I hadn’t done any successful cuttings before. Why not try? I looked up plants that I could take cuttings from in late July. I grabbed a basket and my pruning snips and out I went to the garden. I cut some lavender, rosemary, sage, Skimmia, Hydrangea, raspberry and Heather. I had some black stemmed Hydrangea growing that I wanted to reproduce and Hydrangeas are one of the easiest plants to root.
The rosemary stems were taken from the new growing tips of the plant and were cut to about four inches long. I stripped away the lower leaves but left some for photosynthesis. When you have no roots on the cutting there is nothing to supply nutrients so its important to remove some of the leaves. On the broadleaf cuttings I left two leaves but cut each remaining leaf in half.
I took my sharp pruning shears and carefully sliced a half-inch of the lower stem along one side exposing more stem surface area to the soil. This I hoped would initiate roots to form. You see, I don’t use a rooting hormone.
I carefully inserted each rosemary cutting into one of the four-inch pots I had used for the plants I had composted.
I did the same process for the other cuttings. All the flats were placed in a shady area on the north side of the greenhouse near my blueberry patch. Here they wouldn’t get all day sun but were still in an area that needed to be watered during the summer. I watered them during my regular watering routine and ignored them otherwise. Sometimes I think we fuss over plants too much. I didn’t have time for that. After all it was harvest time.
I checked on the cuttings about a month later and to my surprise a heather was in flower. Now it could just be still living on its resources but I had hope. The raspberries rooted quickly. With a little tug I tested the plants and some were not ready. Fast forward to September and the cuttings were still green. This week I had to pot them up into new soil before winter’s arrival. Above is the Skimmia cutting and look at those roots! Needles to say, I was pretty happy with this outcome.
I potted up the cuttings to one gallon pots which seem huge compared to the plant. You can see above how I left two leaves on this cutting but cut half the leaf off each.
I am so excited about the Heather. They have tinier root systems but it looks like they will do just fine. That’s a good thing as I was out looking for some new Heathers last week and was told they are hard to get. One of our Heather growers in the Fraser Valley has retired and no one has bought his business. I have heard stories about growers retiring. I am not ready to shop at big box stores for my plants, not if I can grow my own.
All the other cuttings are potted up and sitting on shelves near my house for the winter. Here they will get rained on so I won’t have to water. I may bring them in to the greenhouse if we have a very cold winter but that isn’t forecasted. Have you had success with cuttings? I am now looking at trying my hand at hardwood cuttings this winter. For a good resource to see which plants you can take cuttings from at different times of the year, check out this plant propagation list here.