How To Plant Cutting [ Full Guide ]

Plant cuttings are a common method of propagation used to grow new plants from existing ones. This technique involves taking a part of a plant, such as a stem or leaf, and encouraging it to develop its own roots, eventually growing into a new plant. Plant cuttings offer various benefits, including the ability to produce genetically identical plants, ensure disease-free stock, and preserve specific traits of a particular plant. However, successful plant propagation through cuttings requires specific knowledge and techniques to ensure the best chance of success. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of planting cuttings, providing detailed steps and insights into understanding, selecting, and preparing plant cuttings for successful growth.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Cuttings

  • Understanding Plant Cuttings
  • Selecting the Right Plant for Cuttings
  • Choosing the Best Time for Planting Cuttings
  • Preparing the Plant and Tools for Cuttings

Understanding Plant Cuttings

Plant cuttings are essentially pieces of a plant that are removed and encouraged to develop into an entirely new plant. Different types of plants can be propagated through cuttings, including herbaceous plants, shrubs, trees, and succulents. Common parts of plants used for cuttings include stems, leaves, and roots.

Types Of Plant Cuttings

  1. Softwood Cuttings: These are taken from new, soft, and pliable growth found at the tips of shoots. Softwood cuttings are typically taken during the spring or early summer and root relatively quickly.
  2. Hardwood Cuttings: These cuttings are taken from more mature, woody growth found on the plant. Hardwood cuttings are usually taken during the dormant season, which is late fall to early spring, and often take longer to root compared to softwood cuttings.
  3. Leaf Cuttings: This type of cutting involves using individual leaves to propagate new plants. Leaf cuttings are commonly used for plants with succulent leaves, such as African violets and jade plants.
  4. Root Cuttings: These cuttings involve taking sections of roots, often from thick, fleshy roots, to propagate new plants. Root cuttings are utilized for plants like bamboo and some perennial flowers.

Selecting The Right Plant For Cuttings

Not all plants can be propagated through cuttings, and the success of rooting cuttings can vary based on the plant species and variety. When selecting a plant for cuttings, consider the following factors.

Factors To Consider When Selecting A Plant For Cuttings

  1. Propagation Success: Some plants are more amenable to being propagated through cuttings than others. Research the specific plant species and variety to determine its suitability for propagation via cuttings.
  2. Health of the Plant: Choose a healthy and vigorous plant from which to take cuttings. A healthy parent plant will increase the chances of successful rooting and growth in the new plant.
  3. Genetic Variation: For certain plants, it’s essential to ensure that the cuttings taken are true to the parent plant’s genetics. This is particularly important for preserving specific traits, such as flower color or fruiting characteristics.

Choosing The Best Time For Planting Cuttings

The timing of taking and planting cuttings can significantly impact their success in developing into healthy, new plants. Different types of cuttings are best taken at specific times of the year.

Best Times For Taking And Planting Cuttings

  1. Softwood Cuttings: These are best taken in the spring when new growth is still soft and flexible. Softwood cuttings root relatively quickly, making spring an ideal time for their propagation.
  2. Hardwood Cuttings: These are typically taken during the dormant season, which is late fall to early spring. Hardwood cuttings are often planted in late winter or early spring.
  3. Leaf Cuttings: While leaf cuttings can be taken throughout the year, they often root best when taken in the spring and summer when plants are actively growing.
  4. Root Cuttings: These are usually taken in the late fall or early spring, with the planted cuttings expected to develop roots and new growth by the following spring.

Preparing The Plant And Tools For Cuttings

Proper preparation of both the plant and the tools used for taking and planting cuttings is crucial for the success of the propagation process.

Steps For Preparing The Plant And Tools For Cuttings

  1. Selecting and Preparing the Parent Plant:
    • Choose a healthy, disease-free plant for taking cuttings. Water the plant thoroughly a day or two before taking cuttings to ensure it’s well-hydrated. Avoid taking cuttings from plants under stress or drought conditions.
  2. Choosing the Right Tools:
    • Use sharp, clean, and sterilized pruners or scissors for taking cuttings. Cleaning the tools with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water helps prevent the transmission of diseases between plants.
  3. Preparing the Cuttings:
    • Take cuttings in the morning when plants are fully hydrated and the temperatures are cooler. Cut just below a node (a small, protruding bump on the stem) to encourage new root development.
  4. Preparing the Planting Medium:
    • Use a well-draining, sterile planting medium for rooting cuttings. This could be a mix of perlite, vermiculite, or a specialized rooting mix. Avoid using garden soil, as it can contain pathogens and may not provide adequate drainage.
  5. Planting the Cuttings:
    • Make a hole in the planting medium with a pencil or stick and carefully insert the cutting while ensuring that at least one node is below the surface. Gently firm the medium around the cutting to provide support and good soil contact.

Plant cuttings offer a rewarding way to propagate new plants, allowing for the preservation and multiplication of desirable plant varieties. Understanding the type of cutting, selecting the right plant, choosing the best time for planting cuttings, and properly preparing the plant and tools are essential steps for successful propagation through cuttings. By following these detailed guidelines, enthusiasts can enhance their propagation skills and enjoy the process of creating new plants from their existing favorites.

Taking The Cutting

Planting cuttings is a popular method of propagating plants, especially those that are difficult to grow from seeds or have desirable traits that you want to preserve. Cuttings are essentially pieces of a plant that are snipped off and encouraged to root and grow into a new plant. This process can be very rewarding and allows you to create new plants from existing ones.

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The first step in planting a cutting is to select a healthy, mature plant from which to take the cutting. Look for a plant that is disease-free, free from pests, and has strong stems. It is best to take cuttings in the morning when the plant is most hydrated.

When taking the cutting, use a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or a knife. Make a clean cut just below a node, which is the point on the stem where leaves emerge. The cutting should be approximately 4-6 inches long and have at least 2-3 sets of leaves.

Preparing The Cutting For Planting

Once you have taken the cutting, it is important to prepare it properly before planting it. First, remove any leaves from the lower part of the stem, leaving only the topmost set of leaves intact. This will direct the cutting’s energy towards root growth rather than maintaining leaves.

Next, if the plant you are propagating is prone to fungal diseases, you may want to dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone. Rooting hormone contains growth-promoting substances that encourage the cutting to develop roots more quickly. Follow the instructions on the rooting hormone package carefully.

After applying rooting hormone, gently tap the cutting to remove any excess powder. Be careful not to touch the cut end of the stem, as this may remove the hormone. It’s important to note that not all plants require rooting hormone, so if you are unsure, consult a gardening reference or a knowledgeable nursery professional.

Selecting The Planting Location

Before planting the cutting, it is essential to select a suitable planting location. Consider the light requirements of the plant and choose a spot that receives the appropriate amount of sunlight. Some plants prefer full sun, while others thrive in partial shade. Be sure to also consider the soil type and drainage capabilities of the area.

If you are unsure about the soil quality, it may be helpful to do a soil test. This will provide you with information about the pH level, nutrient composition, and drainage capacity of the soil. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range (around 6.0 to 7.0) and well-drained soil.

Prepare the planting area by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to improve its structure and create a welcoming environment for root development.

Planting The Cutting In The Soil

Once the planting location is prepared, it’s time to plant the cutting. Follow these steps to ensure successful planting:

  1. Dig a hole in the soil that is deep enough to accommodate the cutting. The hole should be a few inches deep, enough to cover the bottom set of leaves on the cutting.
  2. If the soil is poor or doesn’t drain well, you may want to incorporate some organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, into the hole. This will improve soil fertility and drainage.
  3. Gently place the cutting into the hole, ensuring that the bottom set of leaves is just above the soil level. Hold the cutting steady as you backfill the hole with soil, gently pressing it down to eliminate any air pockets.
  4. Water the newly planted cutting thoroughly, saturating the soil around it. This will help settle the soil and provide moisture for the cutting to start developing roots.
  5. If necessary, add a layer of mulch around the base of the cutting to help conserve soil moisture and regulate temperature.

Watering And Caring For The Cutting

Proper watering is crucial for the success of your cutting. Initially, you will need to water the cutting more frequently to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely, as this can inhibit root development.

As the cutting begins to establish roots and show signs of growth, you can gradually reduce the frequency of watering. Instead, aim to water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. This will encourage the roots to grow deeper into the soil in search of moisture.

It is important to monitor the moisture level of the soil regularly. Stick your finger about an inch into the soil, and if it feels dry, it’s time to water. During periods of heavy rain or excessive humidity, be cautious not to overwater the cutting, as this can lead to root rot.

In addition to watering, there are a few other care measures you can take to promote healthy growth:

  1. Provide the cutting with the appropriate amount of sunlight according to its specific needs. If the plant prefers full sun, place it in an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. For plants that thrive in partial shade, choose a location with dappled sunlight or a few hours of direct morning sunlight.
  2. Protect the cutting from extreme temperatures, strong winds, and harsh environmental conditions. If necessary, use a shade cloth or a temporary plant shelter to shield the cutting from excessive sun or wind.
  3. Monitor the cutting for any signs of pests or diseases. Common pests include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. If you notice any pest infestation, treat the cutting with appropriate organic or chemical remedies to prevent damage.
  4. Once the cutting has developed roots and started growing, you may need to provide support in the form of stakes or trellises, depending on the type of plant. This will help the cutting maintain an upright position and prevent it from bending or breaking.

Planting cuttings is an effective method for propagating plants and creating new specimens with desirable traits. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant cuttings and watch them develop into healthy plants. Remember to take the cutting from a healthy parent plant, prepare it properly, choose a suitable planting location, and provide the necessary care and attention throughout the rooting process. With patience and proper care, you can enjoy the satisfaction of growing new plants from cuttings and expand your garden with ease.

Monitoring And Adjusting The Growing Conditions

Plant cuttings are a popular and cost-effective way to propagate new plants. By taking a stem or leaf from a mature plant and encouraging it to root, you can create an exact replica of the parent plant. This method is particularly useful for plants that are difficult to grow from seeds or for those that have desirable traits you want to preserve.

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To successfully plant cuttings, you need to ensure that the growing conditions are appropriate, protect the cuttings from pests and diseases, transfer them to larger containers when necessary, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the process.

Before planting your cuttings, it is important to create an ideal environment for their growth. The following factors should be monitored and adjusted as needed to ensure success:


Proper lighting is crucial for the development of healthy plant cuttings. Most cuttings require bright, indirect light to grow. If the light in your growing area is too dim, consider using fluorescent lights or grow lights to supplement natural light.


The temperature of the growing area is another important factor to consider. Most cuttings prefer temperatures between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Avoid placing the cuttings in areas with extreme temperature fluctuations or drafts.


Maintaining high humidity around the cuttings can promote root development. You can increase humidity by using a misting system or by covering the cuttings with a plastic dome or bag. Be sure to remove the cover periodically to prevent mold growth.


Choosing the right soil mixture is essential for successful rooting. A well-draining soil mix is recommended to prevent waterlogged roots. A mixture of equal parts peat moss or coir, perlite, and vermiculite provides good aeration and moisture retention.


Consistent moisture is crucial for the success of your cuttings. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Alternatively, underwatering can cause the cuttings to dry out and fail to root. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy, by checking the moisture level regularly and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly.


While some nutrients are necessary for the cuttings’ growth, it is important not to provide too much fertilizer initially. A balanced, diluted liquid fertilizer can be applied sparingly after the roots have developed. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to avoid overfeeding and burning the delicate roots.

Protecting The Cutting From Pests And Diseases

Pests and diseases can quickly ruin your efforts to propagate plant cuttings. Taking preventive measures is important to protect the cuttings from these threats. Here are some steps you can take:

Sterilize Equipment And Growing Medium

Before planting your cuttings, it is essential to sterilize the tools, containers, and growing medium to eliminate any possible pathogens. This can be done by washing the tools with a bleach solution, rinsing containers with hot water, and using fresh, sterilized soil mix.

Provide Good Air Circulation

Good air circulation around the cuttings can help prevent the development of fungal diseases. Avoid overcrowding the cuttings and ensure that there is enough space between them. If you notice any signs of mold or fungus, increase air circulation by using fans or by moving the cuttings to a well-ventilated area.

Monitor For Pests

Regularly inspect your cuttings for signs of pests, such as aphids, mites, or mealybugs. If you notice any pests, isolate the affected cuttings to prevent the infestation from spreading. Use organic pest control methods, such as insecticidal soaps or neem oil, to treat the affected plants. Be sure to follow the instructions on the products and avoid using chemical pesticides that may harm the delicate cuttings.

Quarantine New Cuttings

If you are introducing new cuttings into your growing area, it is important to quarantine them for a few weeks. This will help ensure that they do not carry any pests or diseases that could infest your other plants. Keep the new cuttings in a separate area and monitor them closely during the quarantine period.

Transferring The Cutting To A Larger Container

Once your cuttings have developed a strong root system, it is time to transfer them to a larger container. This step is important to provide the cuttings with more space for growth and to encourage the development of a well-established plant. Follow these steps to successfully transplant your cuttings:

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Choose The Right Pot

Select a pot that is slightly larger than the current one and has good drainage holes. Avoid using containers that are too large, as excess soil can retain too much moisture and lead to root rot. Additionally, using a pot made of clay or another breathable material can discourage waterlogged conditions.

Prepare The Potting Mix

Create a well-draining potting mix by combining equal parts of peat moss or coir, perlite, and compost. This mixture will provide the necessary nutrients and drainage for the cuttings’ continued growth.

Gently Remove The Cuttings

Carefully remove the cuttings from their current container, taking care not to damage the delicate roots. Gently loosen the roots if they have become entangled or compacted.

Planting The Cuttings

Dig a small hole in the center of the new container and place the cutting in it. Ensure that the roots are well spread out and not crowded in the hole. Fill the hole with potting mix, firming it gently around the cutting to provide support.

Watering The Transplanted Cuttings

After transplanting, water the cuttings thoroughly to help settle the soil around the roots. Avoid overwatering, as excess moisture can lead to root rot. Monitor the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Plant Cuttings

While propagating plant cuttings can be rewarding, it can also present challenges. Here are some common issues that may arise and how to troubleshoot them:

Root Rot

Root rot is a common issue caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil. To prevent root rot, ensure that your potting mix is well-draining and that you are not overwatering. If root rot has already occurred, remove the affected parts of the plant, change the soil, and adjust your watering practices.

Wilting Or Drooping

Wilting or drooping foliage can be a sign of either underwatering or overwatering. Check the moisture level of the soil and adjust your watering accordingly. Ensure that the potting mix is well-draining and that the roots have enough oxygen.

Lack Of Root Development

If your cuttings are not developing roots, it could be due to several factors. Check the temperature and humidity levels in your growing area to ensure they are optimal for rooting. Additionally, ensure that your cuttings have enough light, as insufficient light can inhibit root growth. Consider using rooting hormones to stimulate root development if necessary.

Leaf Yellowing

Yellowing leaves can indicate nutrient deficiencies or overfertilization. Ensure that your cuttings are receiving appropriate nutrients by using a balanced fertilizer at a diluted strength. Avoid overfeeding, as it can cause nutrient burn.

Mold Or Fungal Growth

Mold or fungal growth can occur if the humidity is too high or if there is poor air circulation. Increase air circulation by using fans or by moving the cuttings to a well-ventilated area. If mold or fungus persists, consider reducing humidity levels by removing the cover or adjusting your misting schedule.


Planting cuttings is an effective way to propagate new plants and expand your garden. By providing the right growing conditions, protecting the cuttings from pests and diseases, transferring them to larger containers when necessary, and addressing common issues, you can increase your success rate in growing healthy and thriving plants. Remember to monitor and adjust the light, temperature, humidity, soil, watering, and nutrition to ensure optimal growth. With patience and care, you will enjoy the fulfilling process of watching your plant cuttings transform into beautiful, mature plants.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant A Cutting?

The best time to plant a cutting is typically in the late spring or early summer. This is when the weather is warming up and there is plenty of moisture in the soil to promote root growth.

How Do I Prepare The Cutting For Planting?

Before planting the cutting, remove any leaves from the lower portion of the stem. This will prevent them from rotting in the soil. Also, make a clean cut at the base of the stem.

How Deep Should I Plant The Cutting?

It is important to plant the cutting at the proper depth. Generally, the cutting should be planted at least 2-3 inches deep in the soil. This allows for enough room for the roots to develop and provides stability for the plant.

Should I Use Rooting Hormone When Planting A Cutting?

It is not necessary to use rooting hormone when planting a cutting, but it can increase the success rate of rooting. Rooting hormone contains growth hormones that help stimulate root growth and can be beneficial for difficult to root cuttings.

How Often Should I Water The Cutting After Planting?

The cutting should be kept consistently moist but not overly saturated. Water the cutting every 2-3 days if there is no rain, and make sure the soil is not drying out completely between waterings. Be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the cutting to rot.