Taking a Cutting: Cloning Your Plants
Some plants root out from the stem, making them excellent candidates for cuttings. Examples include Figs — like the one my friend Sarah clipped — Lavender, Lemon Balm, Mint, Scented Geraniums, Tarragon, Sage, Lemon Verbena, and Oregano. (Yes, many plants can be propagated in both ways — use the one most convenient for you.)
As a general rule of thumb, take a cutting from new plant growth. This is best done in late spring or early summer — cuttings prosper in warm conditions. This also allows enough time for the cutting to put on some new growth without the stress and cold of winter.
1. On some plants, new growth comes in the form of a side shoot; in others it grows from the top of the plant’s branches. Choose the newest growth and cut about a five inch length just below a set of leaves.
2. Remove the lowest leaves from the cutting, as well as any buds or blossoms on the stem. (If left, these will take energy away from the plant by producing seed.)
3. Place the cutting directly into a small pot of potting soil (leave it unfertilized for now), being sure to bury the lowest leaf node (the node is the area below the lowest leaves that you just removed) and water well. This leaf node is where the bulk of the plant’s hormones are located, and they will aid in root development. Keep the cutting watered until the plant begins to put on new growth.
You will know it’s ready when the cutting does not pull out of the soil with a gentle tug, indicating the new growth is sufficient for transplanting to a bigger pot. This generally takes from four to six weeks.
There are many, many edible plants that you can propagate easily (including tomatoes!), so share in the comments if you have some great tips! For the next City Dirt, schedule some time for a weekend project. We’ll be covering garden DIY – salvaged containers and clever (read: free!) materials to use in your garden, no matter the size.
All pictures (except bouquet) from Della Chen Photography and originally published on Food52.com.