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Propagating From Cuttings

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Learn to Propagate Plants from Cuttings in this classic book from John Mason, Principal of Australian Correspondence Schools, Fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia, Fellow Institute of Horticulture, UK.

This new book fills a big gap in the gardeners and nurserymans library. Jam packed with detail of how to grow plants more effectively from cuttings; it is an easy to follow and well indexed reference that will be invaluable for both professional and amateur horticulturists.

Contains seven sections:
1. Introduction
2. The Techniques
3. Equipment and Materials
4. Greenhouses and other Structures
5. More Effective Propagating
6. List of Plants and How to Propagate them
7. Directory and Appendix


A cutting is a piece of stem, root or leaf which is removed from a plant, then treated in a way that stimulates it to grow roots, stems and leaves; hence producing another new plant.

Cutting propagation can be carried out on a very wide variety of plants, and after seed propagation, is the most commonly used method of producing new plants. Cutting propagation is most commonly used for shrubs, indoor plants and many herbaceous perennials. As a general rule, it is not as commonly used to propagate most types of trees.

This book sets out how to grow plants by cuttings, including:-
- different types of cuttings,
- where to obtain suitable material for cuttings,
- how the cuttings can be treated to increase the likelihood of success,
- different materials and equipment used to take and strike the cuttings,
- how to take cuttings of a range of popular plants.

Propagation by seed or spore is known as sexual propagation. Propagation by non-sexual methods is known as vegetative or asexual propagation. Other types of asexual propagation are layering, budding and grafting, separation and division.

The Importance of Cuttings.

Plants are reproduced by cuttings for a number of reasons, including:

*Cutting grown plants are identical to their parent.
 A cutting grown plant is identical (genetically) to the parent plant (the plant from which the
 original cutting was taken from). This is not necessarily so when plants are grown from seed.
 Cuttings are the most widely used technique for reproducing "true to type" plants. This ensures that
 the unique characteristics, such as leaf variegation or flower size & colour, of the parent plant are
 perpetuated in the progeny. When a plant is grown from seed, the flower and foliage effects, for example, can be different to the effects on the parent plant

*It is easier to produce new plants from cuttings
For some types of plants, seed production is difficult, due to one or more of the following reasons:
  a/ The plant doesn’t produce viable seed, or produce seed at irregular times,
  b/  Seed is difficult to germinate (e.g. Boronia, Eriostemon),
  c/ Seed that is difficult to collect, for example, plants that have seed pods that burst open
     dispersing the seeds widely,
  d/ Seed is produced at a time when seed cannot be collected, or collection would require
     a further trip to the area (often very difficult for remote areas), or can only be collected
     with difficulty (e.g. plants whose seed matures during wet seasons when access may be

*  Producing plants that flower or fruit sooner
  Many plants grown from seeds go through a juvenile stage, in which flowering, and hence seed
  production do not occur. Some plants may take 5, 10 or even more years before they commence
  flowering. Once a plant has flowered, plants propagated from that plant by cuttings will avoid the
  juvenile stage and flower early, often within months of the cutting having struck.
  Many plants also have undesirable growth forms when they are young. These include very
  vigorous growth, thorniness, or unattractive foliage or form. By taking cuttings from adult plants
  these undesirable characteristics can be avoided.

* Maintaining juvenility
  In some cases the juvenile form of a plant may have characteristics that are more desirable than
  those of the adult form. A good example of this is the smaller, immature foliage of the Hedera helix
  cultivars (English Ivy). For some plants cuttings will strike more readily from juvenile material.

Extract from the Plant Lists Section of this book:

LACHENALIA (Soldier Boys)

These bulbous plants are summer dormant and hence grow and flower over the cooler seasons.

They are normally propagated by division and replanting the bulb offshoots, or by seed.

L. bulbifera is commercially propagated by leaf cuttings. 

Propagation by leaf cuttings is carried out in the growing season. Leaves are removed from the parent plant, using a sharp knife or similar tool, and partially inserted into a sand/peat mixture and kept moist, bulbils will form at the base of the leaf cutting. Larger leaves can be cut into sections. It is important that correct polarity is maintained. It is important to ensure the cuttings have good drainage. Avoid wet summer periods during dormancy. Fusarium and other fungal rots can cause death. Aphids may weaken developing plants – control these as soon as they are noticed. 

LABURNUM (Golden Chain Tree)

Can be grown by seed, cuttings or grafting. Semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings may give up to 100% strike for most species. Hormone treatment is advantageous. L. X watereri is reported to grow far better from juvenile cutting material than older wood. 


Generally propagated by cuttings to get reliable flower colour and height characteristics. L. indica is the most widely grown. There are numerous named cultivars with distinct flower colours, also dwarf forms. 

Grown commercially from softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings, and occasionally root cuttings

Hardwood cuttings can be grown in the open ground. The cuttings are taken in about 20cm lengths that are cut from healthy plants after the first winter frost, then stored in the refrigerator (at around 1 or 2 degrees C) until spring growth commences. They are then planted out in raised beds of friable soil. Without hormone – up to 80% strike; with hormone, often better strike rates. In the first spring shoots will generally appear on most cuttings, but rooting may not have occurred on all of the cuttings. Leave at least until the following winter before lifting. 

Softwood cuttings…treat with a quick dip of 1000ppm IBA liquid, then place under intermittent mist (e.g. 6 seconds every 6 minutes or 10 seconds every 10 minutes). Common media mixes include peat/perlite or peat/sand. 

Short leafy stem or tip cuttings 3 - 5cm long can also be taken in summer and placed under mist, )and with bottom heat (21 – 23 degrees C).  

High strike rates have been achieved for L. indica ‘Mathewsii’ using semi-hardwood stem cuttings (not the tip). Each cutting is made 7-10cm long with at least three nodes, and the cuttings wounded 2.5-3cm long in two to three places around the cutting. The cuttings are then dipped in 1000ppm

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