Eight tips to increase the success rate of propagation through cuttings

Propagation by stem cutting. (Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels)


Stem cutting is a propagation technique that involves taking a section of a plant stem and rooting it to create a new plant. Stem cutting is considered a better propagation method when compared to using seeds or other techniques due to various reasons. One significant advantage of using stem cuttings is its faster propagation rate. Stem cuttings can develop into mature plants much quicker since they already have mature stems and leaves, compared to plants propagated from seeds, which can take a considerable amount of time to germinate and grow. Stem cuttings also help maintain the exact genetic traits of the parent plant, which is important for replicating desirable characteristics such as flower color, fruit quality, disease resistance, and more.

Another advantage of stem cutting is its consistent and repeatable process, which can be easily scaled up for commercial plant production. Stem-cutting propagation also produces high-quality plants with desirable characteristics, making it a reliable and efficient propagation method. However, the success of stem-cutting propagation is dependent on several factors, including the plant species, season, and techniques used. Here are some techniques and tips to increase the success rate of propagation through cuttings.

Choose healthy cuttings

Choosing healthy cuttings is a crucial step in successful plant propagation. To ensure healthy growth and development, select cuttings from plants that are actively growing with strong, healthy stems and leaves. Avoid plants that show signs of disease or pests, as these can spread to the new cuttings. When propagating plants through stem cuttings, preventing disease is crucial for success. One way to prevent disease is to use clean and sharp tools to take the cuttings, as dirty or dull tools can spread disease and cause damage to the plant. It is also important to monitor the cuttings for signs of disease such as wilting, discoloration, or fungal growth, and to remove any infected cuttings immediately to prevent the spread of disease.

Choose a stem with nodes

Nodes are the areas on a plant stem where leaves, buds, and branches emerge. When propagating plants through stem cuttings, nodes are important because they are the points where new roots and shoots will form. Choosing a stem with nodes increases the chances of successful propagation, as the new roots and shoots will emerge from these areas. Without nodes, the cutting may not be able to develop roots and will not grow into a new plant. Therefore, when selecting a stem for propagation, it is important to choose a healthy stem with several to increase the chances of successful propagation and ensure healthy growth and development of the new plant.

Make a clean cut

Using a sharp knife for stem cutting and propagation has several advantages over using a dull knife. A sharp knife can make clean, precise cuts that promote healthy growth and reduce the risk of infection. Clean cuts are less likely to damage the stem tissue and create open wounds that can be more susceptible to disease. Using a dull knife may crush or tear the stem, which can further increase the risk of infection. Sharp knives also allow for proper water absorption and enable the cutting to form roots and new growth more easily, resulting in healthier and more successful propagation.

Use the correct soil potting media

The ideal potting medium for stem cuttings will depend on the specific plant species being propagated, as different plants may have different requirements for rooting and growth. However, there are some general characteristics that a good potting medium for stem cuttings should have.

The potting medium should be well-draining to avoid waterlogging and root rot, but also able to retain moisture to provide adequate hydration to the cuttings. A good potting mix can be a balance of organic matter such as peat moss, compost or coconut coir, and inorganic matter like perlite, vermiculite or sand. This will create a mixture that is able to hold moisture while still allowing excess water to drain away from the cuttings. The potting medium should also be free of diseases and pathogens that could harm the cuttings, so using sterilized soil or pasteurized media is advisable

Maintain moisture

Maintaining moisture is crucial in stem cutting because it helps prevent the cuttings from drying out and dying before they can establish roots. Without adequate moisture, the cuttings may wilt, lose their turgidity, and be unable to absorb nutrients, which can ultimately lead to their death.

To maintain moisture, it is important to keep the cuttings in a humid environment, which will help prevent them from losing moisture through transpiration. One common method is to cover the cuttings with a plastic bag or wrap, which will create a humid environment and prevent excess moisture loss. However, it is important to ensure that the plastic does not touch the leaves or stem of the cuttings, as this can cause them to rot.

Another way to maintain moisture is to mist the cuttings regularly. This will add moisture to the air around the cuttings and help prevent them from drying out. However, it is important to avoid over-watering, as excessive moisture can also lead to rot and disease.

It is also essential to keep the soil or rooting medium moist but not waterlogged, as this can drown the cuttings and prevent root development. Watering the cuttings with a watering can or spray bottle can help ensure the soil or rooting medium remains moist.

Remove unnecessary leaves and flower buds

Removing unnecessary leaves and buds from stem cuttings is an important step in propagation that can help increase the chances of successful rooting. By removing excess leaves and buds, the cutting is able to put more energy into root development rather than trying to sustain the growth of unnecessary plant parts. This increases the chances of successful rooting and overall growth of the plant.

Furthermore, removing leaves and buds can help prevent moisture loss in the cutting. Leaves and buds expel water, which can lead to excessive water loss and drying out of the cutting. By removing some of the leaves and buds, the cutting is able to maintain a better balance of moisture and reduce the risk of drying out.

Moreover, removing leaves and buds can help prevent the growth of fungi and other pathogens. When leaves and buds are left on the cutting, they create a moist environment that is conducive to the growth of fungi and other microorganisms. By removing these parts, the cutting is less likely to become infected with diseases.

Use rooting hormone

Using a rooting hormone can significantly increase the chances of successful stem-cutting propagation. Rooting hormones contain synthetic or natural plant hormones, primarily auxins, that promote root growth and development in cuttings. Auxins are naturally occurring plant hormones that play a vital role in root development and plant growth. When a plant is injured or wounded, the concentration of auxin hormone increases at the site of injury, promoting cell division and root formation. Rooting hormone works in a similar way by providing the cutting with a concentrated dose of auxin hormone to encourage root development. This increases the chances of successful rooting and overall growth of the plant. Rooting hormone is especially helpful for cuttings that are difficult to propagate or have a low success rate, as it provides an extra boost to their natural rooting process. The most common rooting hormones include indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), and 1-naphthylacetic acid (NAA).

Avoid transplanting too soon

Avoiding transplanting too soon is important in stem-cutting propagation because it can disrupt the development of new roots and cause the cutting to die. When a stem cutting is first planted, it must use all of its energy to grow new roots and establish itself in the potting medium. Transplanting too soon can cause the cutting to lose some of its root mass and require it to start the process over again, stunting its growth and reducing its chances of survival. It is important to wait until the cutting has developed a healthy root system and has begun to show signs of new growth before transplanting it to a larger pot or into the ground. This will ensure that the cutting is strong enough to withstand the shock of transplanting and has the best chance of thriving in its new environment.

Proper propagation technique is essential in successful propagation through stem cutting because it can directly impact the survival and growth of the new plant. When a stem cutting is taken from a parent plant, it is essentially a detached piece of the plant that no longer has access to the nutrients and water it needs to survive. Therefore, it relies on the stored reserves in its own tissues to develop new roots and, eventually, new shoots and leaves.

Proper techniques can help the likelihood of successful propagation. Choosing healthy cuttings, selecting a stem with nodes, making clean cuts, using the correct soil potting media, maintaining moisture, and removing unnecessary leaves and flower buds are all essential techniques to increase the success rate of propagation through cuttings.

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