Monday, 5 September 2016


Root 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.

When 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 several cuttings.

Choose roots that are pencil thick

Shrub 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 shoots.

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