Rooting plants is what you do to ensure your plant cuttings grow roots. I like thinking of it as teaching your plant cuttings to walk! Making cuttings is a good, fun and cheap way to reproduce or ‘propagate’ plants. You can do this naturally or by using a special rooting hormone or rooting compound.
A rooting material or medium is what you use in place of soil to root cuttings.
There are several options available including:
- Vermiculite – a natural mineral used in its expanded form.
- Perlite – a volcanic glass also used in its expanded form.
- Peat pellets – generally sold in compressed form, this expands significantly when water is added.
How to Root
Basically, you have two main choices — water or a growing/rooting medium such as those in the list above. Although water has been used since the year dot, I prefer using a rooting medium. The roots that grow when a plant is rooted in water tend to be soft and weak, more adapted to water than soil.
Steps to follow:
- Make a cutting of the desired plant with a sharp blade. Make sure that you include one growth node in the cutting. A node is the shoot off the side of the stem.
- Take the leaves off the first node (the node you’re going to put in the rooting medium).
- If you’re using rooting compound or rooting hormone, follow the instructions on the pack.
- Plant the cutting into the rooting material.
- Compact the rooting material near the base of the cutting to give it some firm support.
- Once the plant seems to have a healthy root system developing, carefully transfer the plant into a new pot filled with fresh potting soil. Make sure the new pot has been cleaned with a cleaning agent or if clay, heated to a high heat in the oven for a short time to kill off bacteria!
Cover cuttings in plastic bags to increase humidity (but keep out of direct sunlight).
While a plant is rooting, put it in a partially shaded area of your house. 50% light or dappled light should prevent the cutting from drying out. Cuttings need to be kept moist.
After transferring a rooted cutting into a pot, you should water the plant a little more (not too much more) than you usually would so that the roots can establish themselves. Do this for a couple of days then return to the normal watering cycle.
Rooting plants from cuttings is a fun way to share plants with your friends. It’s amazing to see a plant propagated in this way! Enjoy!