Propagation & Stem Cuttings: How To
While division is a simple way to create one, two, or three new plants, cuttings allow the propagator to make an infinite number.
- Gather together a sharp knife, moist paper towels, a cutting surface, a propagation sweatbox (either a miniature greenhouse or a homespun version — a small pot placed inside a plastic, zippered storage bag), rooting medium (a commercially prepared mix or a homemade one of half peat moss and half perlite), and a water-misting bottle.
- The best time to do this is in the morning of a mid-spring day. The ideal cutting is three to six inches long and contains at least three nodes (where leaves appear on a stem).
- Make a clean, angled cut an inch below a node, then detach all leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Remove any flowers or flower buds. To retain moisture, wrap it in paper towels.
- Next, dig a hole in the rooting medium to accommodate the width and height of the leafless node section. Use the knife to make a final, clean cut just below one of the lowest, leafless nodes, and place the cutting in the planting hole. It should be able to support itself; if it doesn’t, plant it deeper.
- Mist gently with water and replace the greenhouse top or drop the container into the storage bag with the zipper (half-open) on top. Mist once a week and adjust the humidity accordingly: Dense condensation signifies that the plant needs more air; wilting implies the opposite.
Every week, check for roots by inserting a butter knife into the medium and tilting the cutting upward. When the roots are one inch long, consider it young and fragile but independent enough to graduate into a pot.