Rooting plants from cuttings is one of the greatest cheap thrills for a gardener. Plant pieces cut from a parent plant to form new shoots are termed cuttings. The rooted shoots grow into plants that are identical to the parent plant. You don’t have to be a master gardener or have a massive gardening workshop to root cuttings. The process is simple and inexpensive and requires minimal labor and equipment. Many plants will do well for rooting but some are so easy, you can’t miss. Here are the top 5 plants for rooting.
1. Deciduous and evergreen shrubs. You can root softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings. Deciduous shrubs like forsythia root from softwood cuttings taken from branches that grew during the current season. These cuttings are not yet woody, but they break if you bend them. You’ll want to take semi-hardwood cuttings from broad-leaved evergreens like holly or azalea. Take these cuttings during late summer from woody growth of the current season. Hardwood cuttings, taken in early winter, are used for narrow-leaved evergreens.
2. Herb plants. Herbs are so easy to root that cuttings start growing roots when you put them in a glass of water. You’ll do very well with basil and thyme. Take 5- or 6-inch tip cuttings of these herbs and root them in a glass of water. Alternatively, use moist potting medium and keep the pots out of direct sunlight.
3. Begonia leaves. Rex begonias propagate so easily from cuttings that you’ll soon have a houseful of them. Every big, beautiful leaf of the plant can become a new plant with very little effort on your part. To get a begonia leaf to root, you have to cut the veins. Find the big veins on the underside of a leaf and slash a few with a garden knife or scissors. Then lay the leaf on moist medium, ideally a mixture of one part peat moss to one part sand. Keep the cut edges of the begonia leaf in contact with the medium. You can use pebbles to weight down the leaf. Keep the pot in a warm spot with indirect lighting and check it every day for growth.
4. Jade plants. Jade plants are said to bring good luck to the household, so root a few extras for gifts. These fleshy succulents root easily from stem cuttings. You don’t have to check the calendar before taking tip cuttings – you can take them any time of the year and they will thrive. Each cutting should be between 3 and 4 inches. Let them dry out for a week to form a callus. This protects the stems from rot. Then press the cuttings into well-draining potting soil. Let the soil dry out between waterings.
5. Geraniums. Nothing lights up the garden like the bright blossoms of geraniums. If you have one geranium, you can make more. But before you clip off the cuttings, let that parent plant wilt a little. One way to do this is to stop irrigating the plant for a week. Then water it well and take 6- or 8-inch stem cuttings 12 hours later. You’ll be amazed at how quickly and easily the rehydrated stems take root.