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Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings should be cut just below a leaf joint, 3-4 inches below the tip Prior to attempting the following techniques, please read the general sections on Cuttings, first.

To take stem cuttings, cut immediately below a leaf joint, some 3-4" down a young tip. For woody plants, select the joint where new and old wood meet. Ideally each cutting should have at least three nodes or stem divisions. Break off leaves from the lower 1/2 of the cutting, and leave an upper 2 or 3 leaves. Dip in rooting compound if desired, then insert 2 to 3" into the growing medium.

Non-woody plants often allow multiple stem cuttings to be taken, one below the next. Tip cuttings are the most vigorous, but these may not branch whereas lower cuttings, if used, are more likely to do so.

Cut on an angle to identify this as the lower part of the cutting (it points downward, into the growing medium). Use a straight transverse cut to identify the cutting's upper end. Use only upgrowing material: some cuttings will try to maintain their initial direction of growth.

Large leaves left on a stem cutting can lead to unacceptable water loss, and failure. Any such leaves should be cut back, or removed, though the average houseplant must have a few good leaves left on the cutting. Of course, growing in a covered pot or propagator can minimize water loss.

Hardwood cuttings are somewhat different: make the top cut just above a newly dormant node, late fall or early winter, and the lower cut some 6" down, just below a node. Dip in rooting hormone. If a single-stemmed tree is desired, plant with the top node just below soil level, otherwise, plant with third node at soil level. Plant in well-drained, protected soil, such as in a cold frame.

Coniferous tree cuttings are taken from young, vigorous growing tips, each with a small brown hardwood base. Remove the lower 1 1/2" of needles or leaves, dip in rooting hormone number three, and plant 1 1/2" deep.

Succulent cuttings should be several inches in length, and are left to root in air, or at least allowed a few hours, usually days, to callus. When potted, water only sparingly, and keep in a drier atmosphere. Benign neglect is always a good policy. Do not take cuttings from the woody stems of succulents.

Hawaiian Ti plant stem cuttingrooting hormone; rose stem cuttings in waterEuphorbia enterophora and Euphorbia grandicornis cuttingsFrangipani stem cutting

Topics Referenced

Cacti and Succulents
Cold Frames
Rooting Hormone
Trees and Shrubs

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