Stem Cuttings

How to propagate
from stem cuttings or,
How to produce your own plants

Stem cuttings - probably the best part of pruning, certainly the most fun. Think about it for a moment, every time you trimmed your hibiscus hedge or pruned your grapevine you actually produced dozens of new plants. I believe it's one of nature's biggest wonders. Almost every plant on earth can reproduce and duplicate itself, easily. Which means you can actually grow endless new hibiscus plants from just one shrub. 

Stem cutting is also one of the most valuable activities you can do with kids (under adult supervisor), and you don't have to be a pro gardener or a botanist to enjoy and experience the wonder.

To get started, all you need is small plastic pot (a plastic cup of yogurt will do), some garden soil, sharp shears, and a sharp knife. Hormone powder or gel are always good and can be helpful, but are not a must. That's it. Ready? Let's duplicate something. 

Start by cutting 

Cut one stem from one plant and follow the pictures.

First, you need to know that every stem has three  parts. The lower part is known as hardwood, in the middle is the semi-hardwood, and the highest part of the stem has the softwood - this is the part that produces new nodes and leaves. We will now choose the best part of the stem, and train it to produce new plants.

I suggest looking for a point in between the central part, the semi hardwood and the softwood. It makes for the perfect combination between an already strong stable stem, and a young vigorous one that will 'force' the 'old' stem to take root. 

Where to cut? two cuttings actually: one just above the node (the point where two leaves grow out of the stem) and the second cut, just below the node. Now, (this is important) you're not cutting above and below the same node - count at least three nodes on your stem and cut above and below different nodes - see image above. 

Stem cutting - how to root a plant?

After filling your plastic cup with garden soil, use a pencil or the grip of your pruning shears to make a hole in the soil, and place the step inside it. It's important to use a tool to make the hole in the soil, and not just push the stem straight in because if your using hormone powder, it will simply peel off the stem as you push it in the soil, and then... "no hormone for you today". If you're not using any hormones or gels, pushing the stem into the soil is perfectly fine. 

After planting the new stem and covering it with the soil, make sure the pruned stem is pushed all the way into the soil, so that the node is sitting right on the soil - now water, and wait for the miracle to happen.

I suggest getting and planting a bunch of cuttings because not all the cuttings will survive. And play with it, try cuttings from different plants, explore. It's an amazing feeling to know that you have cloned a plant, created new life.

And when you're really into it, the following link has a list with good stem cutting plants you can propagate. 

Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking.