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Help with cutting/rooting

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

OK, this is going to sound silly to some of you-but I have to ask. I have tried cutting and rooting several times now with several types of plants. Can someone tell me how long the rooting takes...do the leaves generally look pretty bad before they get healthy looking again? I have been using a hormone and have cut at an angle and everything else, but the cuttings always look dead by the second week so I have tossed them out. Should I be waiting longer? I have several going right now and they are looking pretty sad (not as bad as my last attempt where I kept them in the sun and baked them!!). Any tips would be great!! Thank so much! Robbi Hoy-aka distantkin

(Zone 4a)

What are you trying to propagate?

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

I have taken cutting of just about everything to see if I could do it! LOL
First I tried my raspberry plants as I would love more of those...I baked those in the sun. Then I moved to a place that my hosta's love and am now trying my raspberries again, a spirea-just for fun as I have plenty, 3 different milkweed plants, some clipping of a neighbors shrub and I think that may be it. I just so want it to work!! Thanks so much!

San Antonio, TX

To me propagation is a trial and error experience. I also try to root different cuttings to see which are successful. Sometimes the first attempt is not a good one but I try again and occassionally that one works. I've taken cuttings of practically everything in my experimenting. I do use a rooting powder and that helps alot. I love the feeling of accomplishment and reward when the little cuttings start growing on their own. Dont give up dist, eventually you'll be enjoying your new plants from cuttings......

(Zone 4a)

Propagate your raspberries by inserting a long branch into
the soil. Take off the leaves on the end that goes into the ground.
Peg down the branch. It will root.

Other plant slips you are trying to root should be in the shade.

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

Thanks for all the advice! The shade thing I did get worked out after my first kill! :o)
I just got some honey suckle canes (with nothing on them, no leaves etc) in a trade-can these be rooted?

(Zone 4a)

I don't know about the HOneysuckle, but you could put them
in water. Wait, watch.

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

Lay the honeysuckle on its side and bury as much as you can in shallow soil. Use a long rectangular pot instead of a deep round one.Keep the soil really damp and place the pot in the shade. I usally put the pot into opne of the plastic zip bags that you can buy comforters in. I keep it out of sunlight all together.
Honeysuckle and forsythias are usually really easy to start.
If you want to see instant results, try a forsythia. LOL They practically grow without roots. I just stick a longish branch into a wet pot and put it in the shade. It seems to keep putting out growth even before new roots form.

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

Going out to try this right now!!

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Ergh I didn't have any luck with my 1st 2 forsythia attempts. Guess I'm going to have to try it again. Were you using soft or hard wood cuttings Windy?

Sydney, Australia

Make sure you use a sandy mix for striking cuttings and warm shade is best ....honey works as well as rooting hormone if not better....some things strike better as hardwood cuttings....some as soft.....some things grow better if struck from new bits ...some from old.Time and a bit of experimenting will work...and don't throw out for a while....give the cuttings a chance...once you see active new growth and perhaps a little root escaping from the drainage hole....bingo.....Last but not least some stuff even roots in water. It's a lot of fun!

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

i agree layering is the easiest and best method if it can be done on the plant.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

You might check into a book (or website) to see which cuttings are more apt to take and which ones are less likely to root or never root. There is no sense in taking cuttings if it has been documented that it will not root or very unlikely it will root.


Some are just too difficult to start by cuttings while others are so easy, but just knowing ahead of time helps tremendously.

Layering and division are always good methods but cuttings can be very productive depending on the stock plant and of course the conditions you place them in such as time of year, rooting medium, humidity, temperatures, etc.

You mentioned honeysuckle canes. Is this winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)? Here is a reference that may help.


I don't think butterfly weed will root from cuttings for example. Seeds or possibly root division (big fleshy root may act like a yucca root) is the way to go for this plant.


As Chrissy said, water rooting can be a good way to go as well but it is best to cover with a humidity tent or change water every day or two. Most people forget about water souring so quickly which will usually kill the cutting.

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

Thanks so much for all of the great info and the wonderful links...I appreciate it all so much! Thanks again!

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

This is a good link too:


There's a character on the web named Mike McGroarty whose site has some good, simple advice about cutting propagation. I tried the upside-down fish tank over a tray, it works fine. I think it's "free plants" dot com.

Santa Cruz, CA(Zone 9b)

Has anyone had any success rooting roses? I've tried and they always die right away. I've had one success with a bud graft but I'd like to try cuttings. Any tips?

Gold Beach, OR(Zone 9a)

I root most of my cuttings using about 50/50 perlite and sand. I water well and put them in the shade. I will leave them as some take a long time to root unless they rot. If they look bad you can pinch the stem near where it is in the sand or dirt and if its soft and slimy, pull it out, its a goner. Honeysuckle will often lose its leaves and when you decide to toss them, you find roots on them. Good luck, its a fun thing to do.

Santa Cruz, CA(Zone 9b)

Also, Distantkin - Robbi, some really easy things to root are: brugmansia, rosemary, ivy, perenial morning glory, succulents, and thunbergia grandiflora. I found that softwood cuttings of herbacious vines will usually root in water, if your interested in that. That's really easy and fun. you just put them in a jar and set it in the shade.

Saint Cloud, MN(Zone 4b)

I will have to give that a try-I am in the process trading for morrning glories, so I will have to keep a close eye out for perenials. Thanks for all the wonderful advice on this thread!!

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner on the question of soft or hard wood. I just take the cutting in early spring. When the plants are starting to grow from being dormant is a good time for the forsythia since it is an early bloomer.
Just cut a branch about ten inches long so you have plenty to stick under ground.
When the ground is really soggy from a lot of rain you can just stick it right into the ground without anything special. Just remember to keep it in the shade and to keep it moist. It can't put out roots unless it has plenty of moisture to draw into the plant.
Remember the experiment as a child when you used a stalk of celery and colored water. It sucked the water right up and colored the leaves. It has to be able to remain "alive" until roots are formed. I am just using the colored water as an example of how a plant can draw up water without roots. You don't have to color water. LOL
I have used all types of cuttings hard and soft and they all seem to work well. Just be patient and do not keep pulling it up to look at it. Stick it in the ground and just forget what is going on below the surface.

hickory, NC(Zone 7a)

with the forsythia all you have to do is let a limb touch the ground and it will root no need to cut from mother plant,that is the easiest way to root them and azaleas you can do that too as well

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

One summer I accidentally broke off a zinnia plant from the stem. It had pretty flowers on it and I wanted to continue to enjoy them. I stuck the broken off stem into a pot just expecting it to finish with the flowers it had on it. It made roots and continued to grow until frost killed it. It was a surprising developement.
I also over wintered a Thai hot pepper plant last fall since we had an early frost here. I kept it in the cold garage not really expecting it to survive, but not ready to throw it away. LOL
Now it is doing great and has become invigorated and has some twenty plus little peppers of all stages on it.
I do believe I read somewhere that the pepper was a perennial in warm climates, but I may be mistaken on that.
Rooting annual flowers can be a fun way to experiment with your green thumb and cuttings.

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

I have pretty good luck getting the flowers to root (mums, petunias etc) as well as coleus and sweet potato vines. But those shrubs? Argh!!! I guess I'll just keep trying, thanks!

LOL @ "You don't have to color water".

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

Sealing the cuttings in plastic to preserve moisture is what finally got rooting softwood cuttings of shrubs to work for me. I put a tray of cuttings in one of those zippered plastic bags that blankets and pillows come in and you can see if the water is condensing on the sides or not. Whatever works, you can put a pot in a plastic bag, or use an old fish tank upside down over a wooden tray, etc.
Also, I think I had been keeping the soil too wet - if it's too wet, the roots won't seek moisture and grow, but the foliage needs to be moist so it doesn't wilt. Kind of ironic.

Obviously, some things will root easily in a glass of water, but others are a lot harder. I think a lot depends on what you use for cuttings, too - an actively growing twig from a well-watered plant will root more easily than one that's not. And like hcmcdole pointed out, some things just plain won't root. Try some easy plants first, look at the lists of plants and what kind of cuttings to use, softwood, hardwood, semi-hardwood, etc.
My problem is going to be making a bed to get the cuttings through the winter. I might use an old sliding glass door and some hay bales to hold it up, or a row cover, something like that.

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

You make some interesting points Claypa, some of which I've been pondering myself. I saw you mention Mike McGroarty's sight (which I also frequent from time to time) and wondered how the aquarium set-up would work. Following the same principle I put my cuttings (forsythia, barberry, false indigo, and dogwood) in a big aluminum turkey roaster with a plastic top, placed that on a heating mat under lights, and misted them as frequently as possible. Within a couple of weeks I had lost them all. Twice. I'm starting to think that moisture is the key, but I've not yet found the right "recipe" to keep them from drying out without having them rot.

And I'm also wondering how I'm going to over-winter some of my baby plants. As I stated above I've had pretty good success with cuttings and divisions, and as autumn draws near I'm faced with where to put them to keep them protected during the cold. Please do let us know how you procede. Our climates are very similar so what works for you SHOULD work for me. But then again.........LOL!

Thumbnail by Lala_Jane
Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

Claypa has a good idea with the hay and window. You can also ask on the wintersowing forum to see what ideas they may have. I can overwinter in my unheated garage pretty well. Even my brugs can stand that as long as the garage door is not opened for any length of time. I put a good sized bulb in the celing and have a flourescent bulb fixture on a wall with a table of plants I put on it.
My bathtub is full of plants I took outdoors this spring from the houseplant section. The city and county says we can only water twice a week and not on weekends. My days would be midnight until 4 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I can't see houseplants surviving on that scedule so they are coming in for a while.
I have to clean the dirt of any bugs so they will be in the extra bathtub until I can do that. The cats and dogs are curious about the new forest in there. LOL

Lafayette, IN(Zone 5a)

In propagation class, the softwood cuttings were dipped in rooting hormone, potted, then were kept in a mist room - so the advice above regarding keeping the plants in an enclosed area is good as long as you avoid mold. There are some plants that will root in water.

The hardwood cuttings were taken while dormant, dipped in hormone, potted and kept moist but not held in the mist room. They did very well.

I have rooted many dogwood bushes by the hardwood cutting method as well as by digging a shallow area near the plant and placing long branches in it and covering with soil. I make sure it doesn't dry out. You can get quite a few plants this way, as mentioned above with Forsythia.

New Port Richey, FL(Zone 9b)

Heres a link to a post I recently made in the hibiscus forum.
This method works well with many plants, not just Hibiscus.
Experiment and see what works for you.

Good luck,

This message was edited Aug 25, 2007 8:19 AM

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Hi, y'all. I found this thread while searching for Mike McGroarty's name on DG. I've gotten his newsletters for several months now and they're very informative. I wondered if there was any buzz about him at DG.

How did your overwintering go for your cuttings? After reading through this thread, I'd love to hear how it went for you and what you did.

Cocoa Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

So much good information here that I am bumping it up. I took a little "show me" class this summer on rooting rhodies if I have success I will offer the information.

Guyton, GA(Zone 8b)

There is an excellent book with lots of tables on propagation of all methods. It is called "Propagation Handbook" by Geoff Bryant. I also find that the whole propagation thing is trial and error. I usually try rooting things different ways to figure out what works best for me. I try cuttings in water, cuttings in straight perlite, cuttings in perlite/soil mix and layering stems. I do always use hormone unless I root in water. I have successfully rooted butterfly weed and roses. The roses were lady banks roses, so they are pretty tough to start with. I used cuttings dipped in hormone in a mix of perlite and soil. I kept them outside in shade. I had very good results. I rooted the butterfly weed cuttings dipped in hormone in straight perlite kept it moist in shade. I did manage to get 2 out of 6 to root. I leave my cuttings until they root or rot. Some of them take what seems like forever. Once you get the hang of it it can become addictive. Half of the plants I buy now are bought specifically to experiment with.

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

I used to have some big shrubs and I would sit my cutting pots underneath them. I think a lot of the problem is that people who are new to growing from cuttings is that they keep pulling them up to see if there are roots.
Even a plant with roots that is pulled up suffers shock. Imagine the set back when a cutting is lifted.
I also had an old wire dog pen that I covered with shade material and set pots in it that were protected with plastic cover.
I use big cuttings as I don't like waiting for things to get a good size. I have had luck with them.
I used to have boxwoods and really wanted to propagate those with no luck. One day while trimming them I found little babies growing from clippings that had fallen and grown into mulch. I looked closely at them after I repotted them and saw that they were perfect cutting with nodes buried in the mulch. The heavy shade also helped when they were literally underneath the canopy of the shrubs. After witnessing the chance propagation I was then able to cut them and root them myself.
I do believe you need shade and no direct sun until rooted and growing on its own.

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

My favorite books are:
The Propagation Bible by Miranda Smith
American Horticulture Society's book on propagation.

I was able to check these out at the local library before deciding to buy.

Guyton, GA(Zone 8b)

I just checked out "The Gardeners Guide to Propagation" by Richard Rosenfield. It looks like it is pretty good too. It has plenty of great pictures.

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