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Taking of Plant Cuttings Used to Propagate New Plants

Basics of taking plant cuttings

  • Plant shoot cuttings are usually taken from plant growth of the current growing season. Cuttings may be taken from various stages of plant growth. The range of cuttings is from succulent to hardwood. It is not possible to state one type of cutting which is useful for all plants.
  • Adjust the timing to take cuttings based upon the locale.
  • Cutting for most plants propagated in the greenhouse can usually be taken at any time. Cuttings from deciduous plants are usually taken in early summer. Cutting should not usually be taken from the end of a branch nor the top part, rather, in between. Testing and experience will allow you to select at what stage of maturity each type of plant will root best. 

Select the 'best' time to take cuttings from the stock plant

Seasonal Variation

Some cutting from the same stock plant may root while others may not. There may be a 'best time' to take cuttings from the plant. Rooting of cuttings is affected by many variables. Some plants have different rooting ability at different times of the year. A few weeks difference in taking of cuttings may produce success or failure. Woody plants are especially influenced by timing. After a certain age, often years, some plants may even have difficulty producing cutting viable to produce roots.

Juvenile cuttings

Some plants produce better rooting when cuttings are taken from juvenile parts of the plant. When taking shoot cuttings from the same stock plant at the same time some cuttings may have different rooting ability. While a cutting may be young in growth age they may be old relative to the stem from which the cutting is taken. Physically young cuttings taken from the top of a two year old tree branch may exhibit root initiation performance as if they were two year old cuttings.

Cuttings taken from near the base of the plant may exhibit rooting characteristics similar to the real age of the cuttings; months old rather than years old. One reason may be the position of the shoots on the plant. Current years shoots may root different from second year shoots. Shoots from the lower part of the plant may have less sunlight than the upper shoots. The upper shoots may be a few weeks older than the lower shoots. Younger shoots need less stimulation, to root than older shoots; use a lower Rhizopon AA or Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts concentration. The younger shoots require a more stable propagation environment.

Sometimes it is beneficial to induce juvenility by maintaining relatively young mother plants or to hedge the young mother plants. Pruning of the mother plants should be limited since the mother plant must constantly produce energy to produce new shoots. Change the mother plants frequently to induce better quality cuttings.

An excellent short description of juvenile plants, taken from 'Donor Plant Maturation and Adventitious Root Formation' by Wesley Hackett in Adventitious Root Formation in Cuttings, is reprinted in the DISCUSSION FORUM

Keep good notes

When taking cuttings it is important to keep notes. Include data such as the number of days after a key repeatable event, such as the flowering of forsythia to account for seasonal variation. Also note the origin of the cutting, the time and weather when the cuttings were taken and time of sticking, the date, etc.

Care of cuttings before Rhizopon AA or Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts treatment

Plant cuttings to be rooted should be propagated soon after being taken from the stock plant. Cuttings of some plants may be kept fresh by keeping the basal end wrapped in moist fabric until ready to treat and plant. Do not keep unused cutting for an extended period. Stored in plastic, some cuttings, such as prunus root stocks, can be kept fresh by storing in a cool place. Keep the cuttings for a day or so in cold storage (about 40F) with a high relative humidity (95%) to give the cuttings a good turgor. Tropical plants are often stored at room temperature.

Wounding: notching the cuttings before treatment

Some plant cuttings, such as hardwood cuttings, root more easily if a small notch or wound is made at the basal end before treating with Rhizopon AA and Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts. The cuts often 1/2-3/4 inch long made with a 'v' cut. Tropical and other herbaceous plants are usually not 'wounded'.


Treat the cuttings with the Rhizopon and Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts rooting products according to the need of the plant and the desired method.

Selection of media for rooting of cuttings

Different kinds of media are used for rooting cuttings of different species of plants. The grower should select the media appropriate for the plant. Some media variations commonly used are all peat moss, combinations of peat with sand, all sand, rockwool, and pearlite or vermiculite with soil mixes. When you use media, such as rockwool, which have no retention properties you must lower the Rhizopon AA or Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts  concentration.


Griffin Greenhouse Supplies, 800-888-0054,
hortusiba@griffinmail.com    https://www.griffins.com
Order through your local horticultural supplier. They should order through Griffin

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