Jessica Walliser
April 19, 2013

Cut and root perennials and herbs for plant propogation. Photo by Steve Law at Brighton Plants (
Photo by Steve Law/Brighton Plants
Many herbs and perennials can be cut and rooted for propogation.

Starting new plants from stem cuttings is a fun and easy way to propagate them. Many herbs and common perennials, along with geraniums, impatiens, fuchsias, heliotrope, lantana and many other plants, are easy to root indoors. Here’s how:

Start with a clean pair of scissors, a few new 4-inch plastic pots, a bag of sterile potting soil (or make your own), a container of rooting hormone (available at local garden centers or online), and a handful of clear plastic baggies and twist ties. Fill each pot with damp potting mix and lightly tamp it down.

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Cut off several 2- to 3-inch-long stem pieces with the scissors. Each cutting should initially contain three or four leaves. Carefully remove all but the uppermost leaf. Dip the bottom inch of each freshly cut stem into the rooting hormone (it may be a powder, liquid or gel), and then firmly insert it into a container of potting soil, all the way up to the bottom of the remaining leaf’s stem. Place one cutting in each pot. (Start more than you think you’ll need because some of them might not root.) Water the soil, and allow the pot to drain.

Then place the plant and pot into a plastic baggie with the opening at the top, using a twist tie to secure the top closed. This keeps the humidity high and prevents the cutting from drying out until it can form its own roots, which usually happens after a few weeks. Place the covered pots on a bright windowsill—though not in direct sunlight or they might get fried—or under grow lights or fluorescent shop lights placed about 3 inches above the plant tops.

Remove the plant from the bag and water the pots if necessary, always allowing the plants to drain before putting them back into the bags. If the remaining leaf turns yellow or rots off, as is often the case, go ahead and carefully remove it. In about a month you can permanently remove the plant from the bag and continue to water as necessary.

Do not fertilize the plants until you’re ready to move them outdoors, and pinch off any flower buds that develop so that the plant can devote energy to forming a good root system instead of flowers. To harden them off before permanently moving them outdoors, gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside over the course of two or three weeks. This slowly acclimates them to outdoor conditions and aids in preventing sunscald and cold damage.

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