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Propagating plants? Just make the cut

Today, you can find just about any plant type in your plant shop. According to the variety or variegation of the plant, it can be quite costly to purchase plants in quantities, especially if you are planning your own landscape project. It is very simple to propagate plants at your home using the method of ‘cuttings’.

‘Cuttings’ is an asexual propagation method which involves rooting a severed piece of the parent plant which regenerates itself and creates a whole new plant.

Different species of plants require a specific method of preparing cuttings. The four types of cuttings are ‘root cuttings’ (taken from the root), ‘leaf cuttings’ (taken from sections or a whole leaf), ‘leaf-bud cuttings’ (removing a leaf with petiole and a short piece of stem) and ‘stem cuttings’ (part of the stem taken detached from a main branch).

The ideal tool for cuttings is a pair of sharp secateurs. Preparing your own cuttings is an easy process. Here are some tips on how to prepare your own stem cuttings (used for woody plants and annuals):

Identify a healthy stem without flower buds and diseases. Using your secateurs, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle. The cutting should be around three to six inches in length but can vary. Ensure that you leave two to three leaves on the stem and trim them. Place the fresh cuttings into a bucket with clean water.

Rooting gel/powder consisting of a rooting hormone that will enable a cutting to quickly produce roots and promote new growth. This can be purchased in an agro shop. When obtained, take the cutting out of the water and dip the cut end into the rooting gel/powder.

Using a seedling starter tray, fill it with rooting media. This can be sterile soil, clean promix, perlite or vermiculite. Poke a hole in the centre of the rooting media and carefully insert the dipped end of cutting into the rooting media.

Place the tray in a warm area with bright light but not in direct sunlight. A greenhouse is ideal. You can create your own greenhouse environment by creating a miniature enclosure on your tray using a plastic bag ensuring that the plastic does not touch the cuttings.

According to the plant being propagated, it can take days to weeks for root formation to occur. You can check the root development by slightly lifting the cut stem and if there is some resistance there is root formation occurring. During this time, you can use a mild fungicide to prevent ‘damping off’, a common disease that kills seedlings, and a fertiliser suitable to cuttings.

When full root development is achieved, transplant the newly grown plant into a larger pot mixed with soil and manure (horse manure is ideal), fertilise and water regularly.

It is very rewarding to grow multiple plants from just one parent plant. Please try these tips so you can produce plants for your own use or for commercial purposes.

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