Expand Your Plant Collection for Free: Learn the Secrets of Propagating Through Stem and Root Cuttings!

Image of person cutting a stem with pruning knife from a bunch of stems meant for cuttings so that the plant can be propagated through stem cuttings

In the previous two posts, we discussed propagation through leaves and seeds. Did you know that plants can be propagated through stem cuttings or root cuttings as well? There are many plants which do not produce viable seeds or their seeds take very long time to germinate. In such cases, cuttings could be a very good alternate.

What are cuttings?

Cuttings are basically a vegetative part of stems or roots which can be used to generate new plants with proper care and maintenance.

Stem cuttings

It is one of the easiest methods of propagating plants. You simply take a sterile sharp blade or scissors, cut a part of already growing plant and replant it in a fresh container and that is it! Well, it is not that simple of course, you just need to take care of few things mentioned below.

  • Mostly we need to multiply herbaceous plants which have very soft stem like hibiscus, dahlia, rose, coleus, money plant, chrysanthemum etc.
  • Cut a young and green branch which is at least 10 to 12 inches in length.
  • Remove all the leaves from the bottom 1/3rd to ½ length of the cutting.
  • Dip it in a rooting hormone, if available.
  • Plant it in a fresh pot and try to keep the potting mix moistened at all times till roots start to appear.
  • Make sure to plant the cutting in a slightly tilted manner and the buds should be pointed upwards.
  • Keep the cuttings away from direct sunlight.
  • Soon you will see that roots have started to sprout.

Pro tip: This procedure should be performed early in the mornings which will increase the chance of a successful propagation.

Root cuttings

Certain plants like blackberry, raspberry, achillea, anemone, salvia, chrysanthemum etc. can be propagated using root cuttings. As we wait for roots to sprout in case of stem and leaf cuttings, here we need to wait for the buds to sprout.


  • Root cuttings can be used to multiply plants usually in late winter or spring season (Before onset of monsoon) as roots have maximum amount of stored carbohydrates during that time. This will ensure that they don’t starve in absence of leaves which perform photosynthesis and make food for them.
  • Dig up the soil near the parent plant and try to expose maximum portion of roots. If the plant is in a pot then try to take the whole plant out of the pot in order to minimize the damage caused by digging.
  • Look for large and freshly formed roots with ample amount of root hairs and secondary roots.
  • Take a sharp blade and cut 3 to 4 portions.
  • The length of cuttings can range anywhere in between 2 to 6 inches.
  • If the plants have shorter root systems, then cuttings of 1 to 2 inches in length will also work well.
  • Place the root cuttings in a flat surface in a tray or a box and cover with a layer of soil (around half inch for small root cuttings and 2 to 3 inches for larger ones). Don’t put too much soil on small root cuttings as it will prevent the buds from sprouting.
  • Alternatively, you can also cover them with cocopeat, saw dust or peat moss and keep them in a cool environment, away from direct sun.
  • Keep the potting mix moist till you see new buds or shoots sprouting from the roots.

Pro tip: Keep the stem or root cuttings in sun for 2 to 3 days before transplanting them. This will harden(strengthen) them and prevent them from transplanting shock.

Get ready with your scissors and other tools to multiply your plants and surround yourself with a mesmerizingly beautiful garden!

Happy Gardening!

Published by Reema

Entrepreneur | Author of 2 Ebooks | Gardener

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