This article, and particularly the paragraph dealing with container growing, has been taken from the website www.vanmeuwen.com.
Members may find it useful when preparing for the Spring Show.
When you receive your bulbs, corms or tubers it is best to plant them
as soon as possible. If you need to delay planting then make sure you
store your bulbs in a cool, frost-free place. Open the bag to allow air
to circulate and to prevent moulds developing.
When to plant bulbs
As a general rule, spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, tulips and hyacinths are planted in the autumn; and summer flowering bulbs such as gladioli, begonias and ranunculus are planted in the spring. Lilies
can be planted in both the spring and the autumn. For specific
information on when to plant your bulbs, refer to the item’s individual
product page. If you end up planting bulbs late you may have a reduced
flower display so always try to plant your bulbs as soon as you receive
Where to plant bulbs
Bulbs generally prefer sandy, light, free-draining soils; although woodland bulbs such as bluebells, lily-of-the-valley and snowdrops
prefer a rich, fertile, reliably moist soil. If you have heavy clay
soil add some organic matter such as compost or well rotted manure along
with grit to improve drainage and help prevent the bulbs rotting. It’s
also worth digging organic matter into your soil to improve fertility.
Most bulbs prefer a position in full sun although woodland bulbs
generally prefer some shade - check individual product descriptions for
Planting bulbs in the garden
Bulbs make the most effective display when they are planted in
groups. Generally bulbs should be planted at 2-3 times their own depth
and 2-3 bulb widths apart. The easiest way to do this is to dig out a
large hole at 2-3 times the depth of the bulbs you’re planting and place
them in the hole with the pointed end (growing tip) facing upwards,
spacing them at about 2-3 bulb widths apart. Cover them with soil again
and gently firm in. You can also plant bulbs individually if you prefer.
Take care not to tread on the soil as this might damage the growing tip
of the bulbs. Water the area thoroughly afterwards and make sure that
you mark the spot where they are planted so that you know exactly where
Hardy bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and tulips can be left in the
ground over winter and they will return the following year.
Summer-flowering bulbs such as gladioli, begonias and ranunculus will
need to be lifted as they may not be frost-hardy or may require a dry
period during winter. Refer to the individual product pages for further
details. To make lifting your bulbs easier, you can plant them into bulb baskets and bury the basket where you would like the bulbs to flower.
Planting bulbs in containers
Most bulbs are suitable for growing in containers. To get the best
out of your bulbs use multi-purpose compost and incorporate some grit to
ensure good drainage. Plant your bulbs at 2-3 times their own depth and
one bulbs width apart. It’s fine to plant them closer together in
containers for a fuller display. Water your bulbs regularly when they
are actively growing and reduce watering when the leaves start to die
down (but don’t let the compost dry out completely). You will also need
to feed your container bulbs with a high potash feed such as tomato
fertiliser once shoots appear. Feed regularly as per the instructions on
the fertiliser until the leaves start to die down at the end of the
It strikes me that there will be more complicated species to try later, so let's make a start with Begonias.
Leaf cuttings, click on the following link:-
Once you've watched the video, read the following, where you'll find a diagram of how to take leaf-cuttings, but also other methods of propogating Begonias:-
by Brad Thompson
This page will describe the various ways to propagate
begonias through cuttings. Starting begonias from seed is covered
in another chapter so won’t be addressed here. Rooting cuttings
to form new plants is basically a type of cloning. To make new
copies of begonia hybrids, cuttings are the only way they can be
reproduced. It’s also an easy and quick way to make new plants of
begonia species. There are three basic types of begonia
propagation, stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and division.
Propagation involves taking portions of a begonia plant
and rooting them to grow into new plants. Some types of
propagation require more skill than others do or more specialized
conditions. Everyone should be able to propagate begonias without
too much difficulty. The following pages contain descriptions and
illustrations of the various types of propagation. Nearly all
begonias can be started from stem or tip cuttings. Rexes,
rhizomatous, tuberous, and a few other types can be started from leaf
cuttings or portions of leaves. All begonias can be divided
except for some tuberous begonias.
Rooting Mediums and containers
The simplest medium to root cuttings in is water.
Nearly all the types of cuttings will root in water, except for leaf
section cuttings that require sterile conditions. The best
containers for rooting in water are small baby food jars.
Whatever container you use should be relatively. The reason for
using a small container is that cuttings release a rooting hormone in
the water as they root. The least amount of water, the more
concentrated the hormone. You can put several cuttings per
container. Once roots are half an inch long, they can be potted
up in regular potting mix and grown on. Forget any myths you’ve
heard about water roots, the cuttings will transplant just fine.
Other common mediums for rooting cuttings are perlite and
vermiculite or a combination of both. These mediums can be
used for cuttings including ones needing sterile conditions.
Perlite and vermiculite are rock/mineral products so contain no organic
matter that can harbor disease or promote rotting. When using
these products, you’re basically still rooting in water. They act
as little rock sponges to hold water for
the cutting to root in.
They also contain air pockets. Perlite and vermiculite don’t
require sterilization to use, although you do need to use distilled or
sterile water to keep it sterile. Vermiculite is less commonly
used now, I believe it was determined to contain asbestos. When
using either product, you should wear a mask or avoid breathing in the
dust when mixing or pouring it.
Another medium for rooting is peat moss or various combos
of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. This works for all types
of cuttings but unless sterilized for sure, it may rot cuttings since
it contains organic material. It is mostly used for stem cuttings
or rhizome cuttings that don’t require sterile or specialized
conditions. It’s also used for cuttings that are overly fleshy
and tend to rot in water only.
Many begonia cuttings can be started directly in your
potting mix in a shady location. Most rhizome, shrub,
thick-stemmed and canes will start directly in mix. You should
only use this method for the sturdier varieties though.
There are many clear containers such as sweater boxes that
work quite well for rooting begonia cuttings. Leaf and wedge
cuttings require some type of container to root in. It has two
benefits. It keeps the humidity up so the rooting medium doesn’t
dry out and is less stress on the cuttings. It also keeps spores
that cause disease from your medium.
Tip and Stem Cuttings
Tip cuttings are the most common
type of begonia cutting used. Nearly all types of begonias can be
started from tip cuttings, even rhizomatous. A tip cutting is
basically the end portion of a stem. It is removed from the
plant, rooted, then planted and grown into an exact copy of the
A tip cutting has to have certain elements in order
to grow a good plant from it. As a general rule, begonias won’t
send out new growth from a node where they have previously had a
bloom. Nearly all begonias that won’t grow from leaves also won’t
send out growth from a node they bloomed at. This element doesn’t
apply to tuberous, rhizomatous and rexes, they will send out new growth
from any rooted part of the plant.
The illustration at the left shows a typical begonia
stem and it’s various possible components. On a begonia stem,
there is a node above each leaf. This node can have a bud that
will grow into a new stem someday, it can have a flower cluster grow
from it, or it can be dormant and not showing a bud. Any node
that doesn’t have flowers or the scar left after the flowers have
fallen off, has a bud in that node whether it shows or is completely
dormant and not showing.
A good cutting needs to have a node with a bud on it for
it to grow into a proper plant after it’s rooted and planted. The
bud is where all future basal growth will come from as the cutting
grows. Using cuttings where the nodes have had blooms will result
in plants that can never send up new basal growth. The
illustration shows how to determine what nodes you have. If you
look at a node and there is a leaf or the scar left after a leaf
has fallen off, and there is no scar left from a flower, then there is
a growth bud there whether you can see it or not. When leaves and
flowers fall off they both leave round scars on the stem where they
were. So, a bare node that has two scars is a node that
previously had a leaf and a flower cluster. If this explanation
isn’t clear, the illustration on this and the next page should
make it clearer for you.
The best cuttings are ones that have never bloomed
since they have buds in all their nodes that will eventually grow into
new stems and new side growth. Any stem cutting though, that has
at least one good bud in the lowest node will be a good cutting.
In the illustration you can see that the lowest node
pictured has a scar from where the leaf was attached. It also has
a bud. That is the main requirement of a good cutting, no matter
what the rest of the nodes on the cutting are.
A tip cutting should also have at least a couple
leaves. One without leaves may root but not as easily or as
quickly. You can also make a regular stem cutting from parts of a
stem that don’t have the tip. For those types of cuttings, since
they don’t have the tip, need to have at least two nodes with
buds. One at the base of the cutting that will be buried in the
potting mix and one to grow into top growth. It should also have
a leaf if possible. Woody hardened stems will root without leaves
however. They do take longer though.
The illustration at the below shows a good tip
cutting. It has buds in the leaf nodes for future stem growth as
described previously. When taking a tip or stem cutting cut the
stem about half an inch below the selected node. It’s possible that if you have
any stem rot while rooting the cutting, if you have cut closer than
half an inch below, you could lose that lower node. Half an inch
gives you some margin. Cutting further than half an inch below
leaves too much unneccessary stem below the lowest bud. When you
get ready to pot up the cutting after it roots, it will be hard to get
that lowest bud buried in the pottin mix if too much extra stem is left
below it. When rooting the cutting, you should remove any leaves
from the lower nodes first, since those parts will be buried eventually
anyway can could rot.
In the illustration below right you can see how to
pot up the newly rooted cutting. Put the cutting as low in the
pot as possible covering at least one good bud. In the
illustration, you can see the importance for doing
this. The buried buds will eventually grow into new shoots and
all the future basal growth. Without a buried bud, the cutting
will of course still root and grow. It won’t be able to send up
new basal growth however. It will only be able to branch
somewhere above the pot.
The only time you should use cuttings without buds to bury
is if you’re going to grow a begonia as a standard. Since a
standard should be just one main stem, ordinarly bad cuttings are
perfect for that purpose.
For begonias that are everblooming and hard to get
good cuttings from, one tip is to first prune the plant. Then
take cuttings from the new growth that comes up.
Rhizome cuttings are a type of stem cutting. Like
cane, shrub and other stem cuttings however, you do have to use cutting
with nodes. Rhizome cuttings can be made any length. In the
illustration the rhizome is cut into two inch sections.
Most rhizomes can be rooted directly into your potting mix without any special considerations. The rhizome
is fleshy and can easily maintain inself until roots and leaves
form. Some more delicate varieties such as rexes may do better if
rooted in an enclosed container though. Long rhizomes can even be
rooted in water like you would any stem cutting. They are
slightly more prone to rotting in water though since they are so
fleshy. Although leaf cuttings on rhizomatous types will give you
more plants in the long run, rhizome cuttings will give you a new plant
faster. It’s a good method for those that just want another plant
or two and aren’t worried about producing larger numbers of
plants. The rhizomes don’t have to have leaves to root and
grow. When using the tips of rhizomes remove the largest leaves,
they’ll probably fall off during rooting anyway. Make sure the
rhizome has good contact with the rooting medium but not buried more
than half way. Tip cuttings from rhizomes can be rooted
upright with the cut end stuck one half to one inch into the rooting
Leaf and Wedge cuttings
Many types of begonias will start from leaf
cuttings. These are mainly rhizomatous, rexes, and tuberous
begonias. With nearly all begonias you can root a leaf, but only
certain types will then send up a new plant from the rooted leaf.
With begonias other than the three types mentioned, consult with other
growers about specific plants that may start from a leaf.
Exceptions to the only rhizomatous and tuberous starting from leaves
rule, are begonias such as B. luxurians and some of the mallet type
Types of leaf cuttings
All parts of the leaf are capable of rooting and
forming a new plant. The only requirement is that the leaf
portion contain a main vein. There are three main types of leaf
cuttings. A full leaf cutting, wedge cuttings, and cone cuttings.
If your purpose is to create a number of plants, you may choose to do
wedge cuttings since you can make many wedges from a single leaf.
If your purpose is just to propagate a couple of new plants for
yourself, you may choose to just use whole leaf cuttings.
Cone cuttings are slower than regular whole leaf cuttings but since
more veins are exposed to the rooting medium, the resulting plant is
There are several basic requirements needed for starting
leaf cuttings. You need warmth, good light, humidity, and a
sterile moist medium.
Light and warmth
This is best provided by using fluorescent lights. A
light stand, besides providing constant good light, also provides
suitable warmth. Any area you can keep reasonably warm will work
however. If not using lights, you need an area with bright light
but no sun. Since leaves need to be rooted in covered containers,
any sun will overheat and cook the cuttings. Under lights, you
can keep the lights as close to the top of the container as
possible. Leave the lights on for at least 14 hours a
day. You can leave them on continuously if desired.
Most leaf cuttings need covered containers to root
in. The purpose is to keep the humidity high and also to keep the
medium sterile. The container can be as simple as a clear plastic
cup covered with saran wrap for single cuttings or an expensive tray
with a clear dome. You can even root leaf cuttings in zip lock
bags. If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, you can root
leaf cuttings out in the open under a misting system. Even in a
greehouse though, you may choose to use covered containers for ease of
I know several growers that root in zip lock bags with
individual bags for each cutting. One grower I know stapled the
bags to the wall in out of way places during warm weather. For
especially rare or hard to grow varieties, I usually do provide those
cuttings their own container. I put the rooting medium in a
small pot then put the pot into a zip lock bag after the cutting is in
Trays with domes or clear sweater boxes work very
well. You can even use aquariums left over from your fish
experiments. There are also a myriad of different clear sandwich
or food containers to choose from.
You can either use the medium directly in the tray or use
individual pots of medium for each cutting then set in the tray.
Both have advantages and disadvantages. Just filling the tray
with medium is easier and can be refilled over and over. However,
in my experience if you root this way you end up with parts of the tray
and different varieties of begonias growing at different rates.
You usually end up with half of the tray potted up already and the rest
still waiting. If you propagate continuous and keep refilling the
tray as you take things out, it will work fine though. Another
disadvantage is getting or keeping the medium to the correct dampness
without being too wet. It’s also hard to keep the cuttings
separated by variety as they grow unless you’re careful to make clear
separations and labeling.
Using individual small pots for each cutting works well
because you can move cuttings from box to box as needed. If
you’re using several boxes as things get potted up, you can recombine
the slower rooting cuttings into one box. The disadvantage is
that it is more time consuming filling all the individual pots and
making separate labels for each. If you don’t mind the added
time, it’s the better method though.
for leaf cuttings
The most commonly used medium for leaf cuttings is
perlite. It is already sterile and holds the correct moisture
without staying too wet. It’s only disadvantage is you have to
check often to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Any medium
such as peat moss, vermiculite and combos will work fine as long as
they are made or kept sterile and kept to the right degree of
moisture. I have used all the various mediums with good success
but find perlite the easiest and best to use.
Another less common medium for rooting cuttings is called
Oasis(TM). This is similar to the Oasis used for floral arranging
but comes in form specifically for rooting cuttings in. It is
made a size to fit the most common tray size. It has individual
one inch cubes with a hole in the center of each to insert the cutting
in. The Oasis can be cut easily to fit any container
though. Don’t try using the floral Oasis for this purpose, it
isn’t made for rooting cuttings like this other product is.
The oasis is soaked in water till it has soaked up as much water as it
can, then drained. It already contains fertilizer so
nothing needs to be added to the water. It’s already sterile so
also doesn’t need to have anything extra done to sterilize it. I
have used it successfully many times and it works especially well for
wedge and small cuttings. It was designed so that after the
cuttings are rooted you cut the cubes apart and plant the cube and all
in your potting mix. This design however doesn’t work for
begonias. If the cube is left on the cutting the plant will
usually not thrive or die later. The cube either wicks water to
the surface of the mix so causes a dry spot, or stays too wet and
causes the plant to rot later. Examination of the roots on plants
that failed showed that the roots all stayed in the oasis instead of
growing out of it into the mix. For this reason, you must
remove all the Oasis from the rooted cutting before potting them
up. This usually results in some root loss, besides being time
consuming. However it is easy to use so does have its uses for
One item you’ll need is something to cut the leaves
with. You can use a knife, scissors, or pruners. The best
cutting tool to use is a razor blade. There are several
reasons. Using a new blade means you have a sterile utensil that
doesn’t have diseases from your plants outside. If you use your
pruners, you’d have to sterilize them. The main reason though is
because it makes a very clean precise cut. If you use scissors or
pruners they don’t cut cleanly and crush the edges of the
cutting. This makes the cutting less able to draw up water.
Using the razor blade cuts cleanly without crushing cells along the
You’ll also need something to sterilize the cuttings
with. It doesn’t matter how sterile your medium is if the
cuttings you put into have spores of disease on the leaf surface.
The most common disinfectant for using on cuttings is a five percent
bleach solution. I have also heard of using a peroxide solution
but haven’t personally tried that. I have also sterilized
cuttings by dipping them in a fungicide mixed to the recommended
strength on the bottle. I let them dry, then rinse with water
before using. Make sure to wear gloves. You can also use
Physan(TM) following the directions on the bottle. I usually
spray my tray of cuttings with a fungicide after they are done just to
make sure nothing was missed.
Whole Leaf Cuttings
A whole leaf cutting consists of a leaf with a portion of
the leaf petiole (a petiole is the stem-like structure that holds a
leaf to the plant stem). You should leave the petiole about one
half to one inch long for rooting. When taking the cuttings leave
the petiole long until just before you’re ready to put it in the medium
so that the cut is fresh. Leaving the petiole too long won’t hurt
anything. However, it will take longer for the plantlets to come up
after rooting since they’ll have to come up from deeper in the
In the illustration below you can see a whole leaf.
The best leaf cuttings are young leaves but any leaf will work such as
damaged leaves you have to remove anyway. If the leaf is small
you can just cut the petiole and insert it into the rooting
medium. Larger or damaged leaves you should cut down as in the
illustration leaving a round center of the leaf with the petiole.
The remaining part of the leaf can be discarded or used for
wedges. The reasons for cutting the leaf down is that it takes up
less space in the tray and because the petiole will have less leaf to
support. The cut down leaf will have less leaf surface to
transpire from so the petiole won’t have to provide so much
water. Even if making wedges or cone cuttings, save that middle
portion as an extra cutting. On difficult varieties, that portion
will usually root, even if your wedges fail.
Whole leaf cuttings can be started without enclosed
containers for some of the sturdier varieties. You can leave the
petiole slightly longer and root them in small jars of water. You
can also fill the small jar with perlite and add water. The
second method does support the leaf better. You can also use pots
of perlite set in a shallow tray of water. If you use any of
these methods, don’t cover the container since the cuttings will
usually rot with all that water if covered. It does take
practice and experience to find out which varieties of begonias will
work with which methods.
Wedge cuttings are the easiest way to start many plants at
a time with the least plant material. It’s especially useful for
rare begonias or begonias that only have a couple good leaves to
use. In the illustration you can see how to cut a leaf into
wedges. A wedge is simply a portion of leaf with a vein in
it. You can make your wedges as small or as large as you
like. Smaller wedges may not survive if your conditions are less
than perfect. I usually make my wedges about an inch or inch and
a half long.
For wedges, conditions must be as sterile as
possible. As stated earlier in this chapter, a razor blade is the
best utensil to use for cutting. Perlite is the best medium for
rooting wedges. Add a very slight amount of fertilizer so the
plantlets have some food when they start to grow. You can fill a tray
with perlite and premoisten. When perlite is wet it becomes very
solid. I use a knife or plant label to make rows of small slits
in the perlite the right size to fit my wedges. The wedges can be
touching or overlapping so don’t be afraid to pack them closely.
Usually about half an inch to and inch apart works well. Try to
insert the wedge as upright as possible. Also make sure to label
carefully and keep different varieties separated. Try to mix the
tray up so that varieties that aren’t a similar color aren’t next to
each other so they don’t get confused later. They do require a
Wedges may take a couple months to form roots and
plantlets. Check the moisture of the medium regularly to make
sure it doesn’t dry out. Misting occasionally with a weak fertilizer
for foliar feeding will help them along. You may want to leave
the cover opened slightly till they dry off a little before closing
tightly. Using distilled water will make sure that you don’t
introduce any diseases into your sterile environment.
As soon as little plantlets have come up and are large
enough to handle they can be potted up individually into small
pots. The illustration at the left of this page shows the new
plantlets coming up from a leaf cutting and wedge cutting. For
the first transplant they should remain in a covered container.
Treat them as you would seedlings of the same size. Once they have
filled the small pot and are ready to transplant again, you can harden
them off and move to other locations.
Cone cuttings are similar to wedge cuttings. You cut
the center portion out of the leaf but instead of cutting it into
sections, you leaf it whole. You wind it around to form a cone
and insert into your rooting medium. Make sure to also put some medium
inside the cone. On the page are illustrations showing how
to do this.
The advantage to cone cuttings is the full plants
you can get from this type cutting. Plantlets will come up from
all the vein ends along the bottom of the cone resulting in dozens of
shoots. If left together, they quickly grow into one full
plant. They can also be separated or cut apart to make many
smaller plants after rooted and plantlets have formed.
On all the various leaf cuttings discussed in this chapter
after plantlets have formed you can either pot up the cutting along
with the plantlet or you can remove the plantlet and use the cutting
over again. Some cuttings will send up plantlets several times
before they run out of energy if reused.
Mallet and Heel Cuttings
These types of cuttings are not commonly used but they do
have purposes. There isn’t much difference between the two and the mallet has
less chance of errors or rotting so you shouldn’t use the heel version
unless you have a specific purpose.
A mallet cutting will allow you to make a type of leaf
cutting from plants that ordinarily won’t start from leaves.
Since the leaf cutting contains a portion of the stem with a growth bud
it can be used for any type of begonia. It’s mostly useful for
creating as many plants as possible of a certain variety. Say you
have a cane with one stem that has several nodes with good buds.
If you propagate by stem cuttings you might only get one or two
cuttings. By using mallet cuttings you may get a dozen, depending
on how many nodes and leaves there were. Varieties of canes that
drop their leaves easily may not be good candidates because the leaf
may separate from the stem before the mallet roots. Treat mallet
cuttings as you would whole leaf cuttings following the same
procedures. After rooting a shoot will grow from the bud on the
AS AUTUMN APPROACHES, AND THE TREES PREPARE TO DROP THEIR LEAVES,
WHY NOT GET YOURSELF PREPARED TO PRODUCE YOUR OWN LEAF MOULD?
Turn falling autumn leaves into leaf mould, a wonderful compost that can be used as mulch or as a soil conditioner.
Which leaves should I use?
Most leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs can be composted, but
some will rot down at a faster rate than others. Hornbeam, oak and beech
will compost swiftly, while leaves from sycamore and horse chestnut
will take a little longer.
Leaves from conifers and evergreen trees can take up to three years
to compost down, so are best shredded and then added to a traditional
compost heap. Related: improving your soil.
Collecting in bin liners
The easiest way to make leaf mould is to collect leaves in black
plastic bin liners. To do this, puncture several holes in the base and
sides of the bag, which will help drainage and allow air to flow through
the bag, preventing leaves from turning slimy.
Rake up leaves regularly and stash them in the bag. When almost full,
ensure the leaves are damp by sprinkling with water, shake and then tie
up the bag.
Lots of plastic bags will look ugly lying around the garden so store
out of the way – a shady spot behind a shed or down an unused passage
would be ideal. To ensure you have a plentiful supply of leaf mould,
continue to fill bags until leaves stop falling. Related: how green manures can improve your soil.
Make a leaf bin
If you have a large garden with lots of trees, or access to large quantities of leaves, it may be worthwhile creating a dedicated leaf bin.
All you need is four stout tree stakes and a roll of galvanised
chicken wire. Make a square frame by hammering the four stakes into the
ground – the dimensions depend on the amount of leaves that normally
fall in your garden and the available space, but a metre-square bin
would allow you to collect plenty of leaves.
Wind the chicken wire around the frame and secure to the posts with galvanised U-shaped staples.
Snip off excess wire. Put on some gloves and fold in sharp edges to prevent cutting yourself when adding leaves to the bin. Related: how to make a compost heap.
How to use leaf mould
Open bags next autumn and you'll find that leaves have changed into a
crumbly material that is ideal to be used as mulch, helping to lock in
soil moisture and prevent weeds from germinating.
At this stage the compost is still recognisable as leaves, but if you
leave it another year, it will have rotted down further to a dark brown
compost, which can be dug into the ground as a soil conditioner. This
material contains high levels of humus, which help soil to retain
moisture and enable it to hold onto nutrients. Related: benefits of mulching.
cuttings are most effective if taken when plants are dormant, usually
between November and February. This timing maximizes the stored energy
in the roots and minimizes the stress on the parent plant. Once a plant
breaks bud in the spring, energy begins to move out of the roots and
into the plant, reducing the effectiveness of root cuttings. I also make
sure the parent plant is well hydrated and was not under drought stress
when it went dormant before I take any cuttings.
collecting roots on smaller plants, such as perennials, I find it easier
to simply lift them in their entirety. For shrubs, I unearth some of
the roots on one side of the plant, digging in close proximity to the
base to ensure I find roots belonging to the right plant. I then trace
them out from the plant until I have a sufficient length to take
Choose roots that are pencil thick
roots can get quite large and woody, but the best ones for cuttings are
those approximately as thick as a pencil. These are young, vigorous
roots that are more likely to send up new shoots. With perennial roots,
thicker is better. I use a sharp pair of secateurs to make a straight cut
at the end of the root closest to the parent plant. At the far end, I
make a diagonal cut. This helps me maintain the root’s original
orientation, critical to the production of new roots and shoots. I
always avoid cutting off more than one-third of the roots because this
may eliminate too much of the plant’s stored energy.
I then take
the long pieces of root I removed and cut them into sections 3 to 6
inches long, making sure to cut the ends closest to the plant straight
and the ends farthest from the plant at an angle. The optimal length is 3
to 6 inches because it ensures that there is enough energy in the
cutting and, in some cases, enough dormant buds to produce roots and
After taking the cuttings, I replant the mother plant or
cover the exposed roots Then I water the area thoroughly to remove
large air pockets in the soil and settle the roots back into their home. Article written by: Hunter Stubbs