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In this lesson, we will learn how to take a cutting from a plant. This plant propagation technique allows you to create a new plant, using part of an existing plant.
In this example, we will take cuttings from rose, sage and rosemary bushes.
To take a cutting you will need:
A pruning shear
A knife or a specialist pruning knife
Surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol)
A clean cloth
A watering can with a spray nozzle
A substrate made up of a mixture of compost and sand in equal parts.
Choice of cutting
For most perennials, the best period for taking a cutting is around the end of the summer, when the young branches that have grown that year lignify. We also speak of "ripened shoots". These are easily recognised by the brown marks that develop on the green areas and by their rigid feel.
Cuttings should be taken from some varieties, like the raspberry or gooseberry, in the winter
The ideal cutting period can vary depending on the different plants species. Find out more about the particular plant you are working with before you start.
Step 1: Disinfect the equipment that will be in contact with the main plant and the cutting. This will prevent the spread of diseases.
Step 2: Identify a healthy, vigorous plant that you would like to take a cutting from. This is called the mother plant.
Step 3: Chose a healthy branch on this plant. The cutting must have at least 3 bisections or branch points.
For the rose, it is better to use a branch that has already had a flower during the season.
Cut the branch under a bisection at an approximate angle of 45°.
Preparing the cutting
We will now prepare the cutting.
Step 1: Begin by cutting off the head of the branch.
Step 2: Remove all the leaves on the bottom part of the cutting.
This is the part that will be placed in the earth.
Leave 3 or 4 leaves at the top of the branch to allow the plant to carry out photosynthesis. Be careful not to damage the bisection when you remove the leaves along the top part of the cutting. It is here that branches will grow later.
Step 3: If the cutting is too long, trim it.
Remove any thorns if necessary.
Step 4: Make an incision along the bottom third of the plant and remove its epidermis. This will encourage roots to develop along the incision.
Note that this stage is not necessary on small cuttings such as these rosemary cuttings.
Step 5: Rub the stub with charcoal. This will reduce the risk of fungal attacks and encourage healing.
Potting the cutting
Step 6: Plant the cutting in a pot containing the substrate made up of compost and sand. Press it down lightly to ensure that the cutting is in contact with the substrate.
Step 7: Place the pots in a warm place, sheltered from the wind, with indirect exposure to sunlight, in a seedling greenhouse or near a window.
Step 8: Young cuttings don't have roots, so it is important to keep the soil moist. Water once a day for several weeks.
The first roots will appear between 3 and 4 weeks after taking the cutting.
Be sure to monitor the plants during the following months. Remember that they are still fragile and need regular watering.
Planting and caring for the plants
When the plants seem strong enough and the first shoots appear, re-pot them in a larger pot if necessary, mixing one third sand, one third compost and one third garden soil. This will help their development. Take them outside when there is no longer a risk of frost and bring them indoors during the winter. When the plants have developed enough, you can replant them in the earth.
Substrate = 1/3 sand + 1/3 compost + 1/3 garden soil