Gardening: Making the cut – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Gardening: Making the cut – The San Diego Union-Tribune

So, what’s in your wallet? Whatever you have in there, keep it there.

I have two words for you: free cuttings.

Just try it, you’ll like it.

Clarence Schmidt

(Courtesy photo)

Growing plants from cuttings is free — unless you have to buy a pot, or potting soil, or pay for water.

Taking cuttings lets you grow new plants from an existing one. You can get a mature plant much faster than growing one from seed.

You can take them from your own plants or, ask your friends, neighbors and countrymen, if they can spare a stem. Offer to swap something from your garden. Or offer to help dig up plants that are ready to be divided. If you really want to push the envelope, see if they have any pots, plants, seeds or wheelbarrows they don’t need.

Cuttings can be from a plant’s tip, basal, heel, leaf, root, or stem depending on the plant.

Tip cuttings are taken from the top 6” to 10” of a stem. Easy candidates include cordyline, coreopsis, dieffenbachia, ficus, impatiens and podocarpus.

Some stem or tip cuttings that can be started in a glass of water are coleus, creeping fig, English ivy, fiddle leaf and pothos. Remove the flowers and leaves from the cutting’s lower half and insert it into some potting soil.

For begonias, you’ll need tip, leaf and stem cuttings.

For basal (bottom) cuttings: remove 6” to 10” close to the ground. Some ideas: asters and phlox.

Heel cuttings are shoots taken from woody stems that are 2+ years old. Pull the side-shoot down gently so a small part of the main stem comes with it. Possible victims: lilac and ceanothus.

Leaf cuttings are taken from a single leaf. Cotyledon, jade, kalanchoe and sansevieria are examples.

There are four types of stem cuttings: herbaceous, softwood, semi-hardwood and hardwood.

Herbaceous cuttings are made from a 6” non-woody section of stem. Houseplants, chrysanthemums and dahlias are such candidates.

Softwood cuttings should be taken from May to July from soft, new growth of woody plants. Possibilities: blueberries, dogwood, fuchsias, geraniums, petunias and salvia.

Semi-hardwood (semi-ripe) cuttings are made from firm, partially mature wood, usually from July to September. Possible plants: azalea, euonymus, honeysuckle, jasmine and plumeria.

Hardwood cuttings come from dormant stems in October to March. The wood is firm and doesn’t bend easily. Consider boxwood, fig, forsythia, grapes, deciduous shrubs and many evergreens.

Rooting times vary with the species, the type of cutting, and environmental conditions. Softwood cuttings can root in 8 weeks. Roots from hardwood cuttings can take a year to develop. When roots start coming out of the drainage holes, transplant it into a larger pot.

Herbs like catmint, chives, oregano, thyme and tarragon are propagated by division. This is simply cutting or breaking up a clump of roots into smaller segments.

Herbs that reproduce from cuttings include basil, mint, rosemary, sage and lavender.

This past February I took a cutting from my citronella shrub and stuck it in …….