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Taking softwood cuttings

  • Softwood cuttings are probably the most successful way to propagate perennials, deciduous shrubs and some trees

Softwood cuttings are probably the most successful way to propagate perennials, deciduous shrubs and some trees. The 'softwood' is literally the flexible, new growth and they are the easiest to get to root. Softwood cuttings should be taken first thing in the morning and placed in a plastic bag to help reduce moisture loss. Choose strong, non-flowering shoots about 10cm long and cut them just above a leaf node. To prepare the cutting for planting, use a clean, sharp knife and cut it just below the next leaf node. Pinch out the tip and trim off any lower leaves. Dip the base of the cutting in hormonal rooting powder or liquid (this will increase success rate). Make a hole in a pot of compost using a pencil or a dibber, and place the cutting in the hole so that the leaves are just above the surface of the soil. Firm the soil and lightly water in. Then cover the pot with a transparent plastic bag and place it in a warm, bright spot. The cuttings should start to root within 6 to 10 weeks.