Making Plant Babies: Propagation Tips

| 7/27/2019 7:29:00 PM

Country MoonRon has a viburnum bush in his backyard. Each spring it has the most beautiful and fragrant snowball-like blooms that have such heavenly scents. I want a start of one from his bush. Here lies the problem.

Unlike lilac bushes that throw up new shoots each year where you can merely dig one up and replant it wherever you would like, the viburnum doesn’t produce shoots. So, before delving into this process of propagating plants, I was all set to graft a new one. However, there are distinct differences between grafting and taking a cutting. Each process works better for different varieties.



Taking a cutting requires no time or money but a lot of patience to root a branch to grow a new tree. It is the simplest method of propagation and can be used for both deciduous and evergreens. Branch cuttings become a complete, new plant that is identical to the parent plant. Branches less than one year old work best and cuttings usually grow better than trying to start the tree or bush from seed. They also mature faster than from seed, developing roots within a few months.

The first step is to prepare the planter. Multiple cuttings can be grown in one planter, just make sure that you select a space that is large enough. Fill the planter with sterile, soil-less potting medium and then water it until it feels moist all the way through and settles. Then make one-inch diameter holes for each of the cuttings. Taking multiple cuttings ensures a greater rate of success.

When selecting a branch, choose a healthy one about 10 inches long that includes leaves. Cut it from the tree or shrub on a 45-degree angle using clean pruning shears. The rule of thumb is to take softwood cuttings in spring from new stems; cut semi-hardwood in summer or fall from current-season stems; and hardwood cuttings are taken from the previous season’s growth in winter.

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