Grow Landscape Plants From Plant Cuttings

With knowledge, proper care, and only a little bit of money, you can coax plant cuttings into becoming landscape plants.

| September/October 1979

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The propagation of plant cuttings into landscape plants begins with an immersion in root hormone powder.


Many of the most popular decorative (and practical) landscape plants—shrubs, trees, vines, or fruits—can be propagated by the simple technique of rooting a piece of a "parent" plant. In fact, since one such "adult" can produce hundreds of identical offspring, this is the chief method used by professional nurseries to multiply woody vegetation. The information that follows—along with a little time and patience—can provide you with all the landscape material you want for your yard or homestead!

Leafy and Dormant

There are two kinds of plant cuttings: "leafy" types that are taken and rooted during the growing season, and "dormant" twigs that are clipped in the winter months.

In addition, the leafy category can be divided into two subgroups: [1] "softwood" cuttings—which come from succulent new growth—and [2] "half-ripe" (or "semi-hardwood") cuttings that are taken from partially mature stems. Half-ripe wood is usually easier to work with, because it's quite resistant to the plant propagator's chief enemy: rot. You can test a branch—to see if it's half-ripe—by bending the twig. Semi-hardwood stems snap and break cleanly, while wood that's too old—or too young—folds over onto itself without breaking.

Dormant cuttings, on the other hand, are taken from fully mature one-year-old wood while the plants are "asleep" from late fall through winter. Such cuttings remain inactive until spring, when—miraculously—many of them will send forth both roots and leaves to form new plant life.

Now let's take a look at how to propagate both leafy and dormant cuttings, using some familiar plants as examples.

From Leafy to Lush

Pyracantha (or firethorn)—a shrub with bright autumn berries—is easy to multiply from half-ripe leafy cuttings.

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