10 Best Plants to Propagate from Cuttings

By James White | October 28, 2015
Image by
by James White
October 28, 2015

This week’s guest blogger is James White, a kombucha tea-sipping blogger who focuses on green building and sustainable living via his family blog Homey Improvements. He also enjoys sharing his recent discoveries with DIY projects, home tips and organic gardening. James is “Alaska Grown” but now resides in PA. Connect with him on Twitter at @DIYfolks.

Avid gardeners often find themselves disappointed with the wilted selection of the local plant nursery. Plants in various stages of dehydration and death fill the shelves, leaving us longing for something lush and living.

Aside from the disappointment of your options, filling your garden can be a chore for another reason: cost. New plants can rack up an impressive total pretty quickly. The good news is there’s a solution: starting plants from cuttings.


No project can begin without first collecting the supplies. For this adventure you’ll need:

  • Pruning shears or a sharp knife
  • Potting mix appropriate for your plants
  • Containers to pot the cuttings in
  • Rooting hormone

This last supply is entirely optional, but it’s recommended. A rooting hormone can drastically increase the chances of survival for your cuttings, and best of all you can make organic rooting hormone at home. Honey is naturally antibacterial and will promote root growth in your plants. Simply boil two cups of water, add a tablespoon of honey and allow the mixture to cool before storing in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight until used. Don’t store this mixture for longer than two weeks.


Types of Cuttings

Before we delve into specific plants to propagate, let’s look at the different types of cuttings. Each type of cutting uses a different type of stem, from a different point in the lifespan of the plant. Luckily, you can treat all of these cuttings essentially the same.

  • Softwood cuttings are summer or spring cuttings taken from fresh, new growth.
  • Greenwood cuttings come from first year stems that are just starting to mature. The time for greenwood cuttings is early to midsummer.
  • Semi-ripe cuttings are plants that are more mature, and tougher. Midsummer to fall is when these cuttings should be taken.
  • Hardwood cuttings are late fall or winter cuttings from woody stems that have gone dormant.

Now that you’re armed with supplies and knowledge of cuttings, it’s time to learn how to propagate 10 delightful plants from cuttings:

Fresh purple grapes on vineyard during harvest 1. Grape Vines

This plant can be propagated by taking a cutting with 3-4 buds on it and pushing it into your planting medium, leaving two buds exposed. This is well-suited for hardwood cuttings.Leave them in the potting container for one year before transplanting. This will allow a strong root system to develop.

2. Gazanias

Gazanias are perfect for propagating each year from cuttings. Cuttings from young plants take root more easily, meaning this softwood cutting should have a high rate of success with very little effort.

honeysuckle 3. Honeysuckle

The ideal cutting from a honeysuckle plant should be 6-8 inches long, with two leaves near the tip. Look for a growing medium and container with great drainage. A combination of equal parts perlite, sand and peat moss creates a medium that allows an efficient root system to grow.

If dipping the cutting in rooting hormone, slice 1-inch cuts in the stem near the base before applying the hormone and planting.

Keep your growing medium damp, but not wet. An abundance of water may cause the plant to rot.

New roots should form in 2-3 weeks

4. Lavender

For healthy lavender cuttings, take a small branch from the lower half of the plant, around 3-5 inches long. Find a branch that is soft, not woody.

Strip the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and put your cutting in a container. I recommend a small or medium terracotta planter.

Keep the growing medium damp but not wet for the first few weeks, and then water infrequently but before the plant starts to show any signs of distress.

After six weeks your lavender can be moved to a larger planter, or put into the ground. Either way, you need soil with great drainage.

Lavender flowers
white and pink rose isolated on white background 5. Roses

Propagating roses is a little different from the previously listed plants, but it’s simple and has a high rate of success. Follow these steps:

  • Take a six inch cutting and wound the bottom of the stem by cutting diagonally and then scraping away the outer green layer. You can make small slits at the bottom to encourage root growth as well.
  • Dip the bottom of the cutting into root hormone, and then place in moist soil, mixed with 50% perlite.
  • Cover the cutting with a Mason jar and mist to keep moist until established.

Roots will develop in 4-8 weeks.

6. African Violets

These take root so easily that they can be started by simply placing the cutting in a glass of water. For the best chance of rooting success, find a healthy and mature (not old) leaf from the center of the plant.

Cut the leaf near the base of the plant, and then slice it diagonally so 1 ½ inches remain of the stem. Allow it to sit in open air for about an hour to encourage root growth before you putting it in your container.

Keep the stem submerged, but make sure the leaf is resting on top of the container, in open air. The leaves of these violets can burn if put in direct sunlight, so aim for bright but indirect light.

After a few weeks, your roots should be around an inch long and ready to transplant.

Geranium flowers in the garden Geranium flowers in the garden 7. Geranium

Choose a healthy plant with shoots that aren’t flowering, and cut at a length around 3-4 inches.

Trim them just above the node, removing lower leaves and scales near the base of the leaf stalks. Then, prepare your growing medium; geraniums do well in a combination of peat and sharp sand.

Insert cuttings with care and water to ensure the medium is moist. Avoid covering the cuttings themselves with water.

Place in a warm area with indirect sunlight and roots should form in 1-4 weeks.

8. Forsythia

Prepare your container before you take your cuttings so the soil is already damp but drained of excess water. Fill with perlite or sand, and water.

Takes 4-6 inch cuttings from the tips of current growth. Remove leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the end in rooting hormone.

Make a hole in the center of the pot and then gently press the cutting into the hole and the medium around the base of the cutting.

Place the potted cutting inside a place bag and seal it. Put it in a warm location out of direct sunlight. After a few days, remove the bag and be sure to keep the medium damp.

In 6-8 weeks, the root system will be formed and you can transplant your cutting.

Blossoming branch of yellow flowers
Pink flower of an azalea after a rain 9. Azalea

Use new growth for the cuttings, from the short shoots that come from the ends of the existing wood. Cut them 2-5 inches long, preferably in the morning from a well-watered plant.

Remove the lower leaves and wound the cutting, scraping away the bottom half inch of bark.

An even mix of peat and perlite is a good medium for these cuttings. Fill your container about 4-6 inches deep, leaving the soil loose for good aeration.

Put the cutting into your medium, and then water until damp. Avoid getting water directly on the plant or leaves.

Cover with a plastic bag to seal moisture and place in indirect sunlight, and cuttings will root in 4-8 weeks.

10. Butterfly Bush

Take branch tip cuttings, at least 3-inches long and remove the bottom leaves. An angled cut allows for better root growth and nutrient absorption.

Place in moist medium, a peaty sand or potting soil is ideal, and then put it in a warm but shady area. Roots will develop in 2-4 weeks.


There are many plants that can be propagated from cuttings, but the ones listed above all propagate easily and will leave your garden full of color without spending a fortune. Plus, trimming your plants keeps them healthy and encourages new growth, giving you more cuttings to trim year after year.


This article was last updated on
Read more about Guest Gardening Bloggers
Did you find this helpful? Share it with your friends!

Browse Dozens of Our FREE Gardening Guides Today

Whether your dream garden is a houseplant sanctuary, a bountiful vegetable garden, a pollinator paradise, a bright and bold flower bed, or a backyard oasis – Gardening Know How has the perfect gardening guide just for you.

Click the button below to access more than 3 dozen of our completely free and completely comprehensive guides to growing your dream garden.

Join Us - Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips!