Plant Propagation

Successful Plant Propagation With Cuttings – 3 Essentials

There are some aspects of using cuttings that are absolutely essential to success. These include proper treatment of equipment, proper choice of the mother plant, and proper selection of cuttings …

Cloning a mother plant via the use of cutting is a very popular plant propagation strategy. Although successful cloning requires a modicum of skill and a strong knowledge base, it is one of the more accessible means of plant propagation. Cuttings take less time than layering techniques and are infinitely more manageable than projects based on grafting.

At its core, using cuttings is simply severing part of a plant and then replanting it elsewhere. That is the basis for plant cloning on the most basic level. However, one cannot expect much success from their plant propagation efforts if they approach the matter with so little subtlety. Successful propagation with cuttings requires quality technique.

There are some aspects of using cuttings that are absolutely essential to success. These include proper treatment of equipment, proper choice of the mother plant, and proper selection of cuttings.

Proper Treatment of Equipment

All equipment used in the cutting process should be cleaned and sterilised before use. The introduction of foreign substances or bacteria into the cutting process can spell doom for the endeavour. Cuttings are, of course, undergoing a great deal of stress and are not fully-functional plants, either. As such, they are very susceptible to outside influences.

The work area, tools used to create cuttings and any other object likely to come into contact with the cuttings should be completely sterilised. A bleach solution consisting of nine parts water to one part bleach works very well for this purpose.

Preparation for the cutting process can be time-consuming and is often overlooked or shortchanged by those in a hurry to dive into the propagation process. However, this common error can destroy the effectiveness of any cutting strategy. Cleanliness is an absolute essential.

Proper Choice of the Mother

Every cutting will produce a clone of the source plant if it is successful. This means one of the most critical decisions one can make when approaching propagation is the selection of the mother plant. The mother plant’s strengths will be duplicated, as well as its weaknesses. Thus, one must consider carefully the plant he or she wishes to clone.

There are a variety of factors one can consider. First, one can look at a mother plant’s track record. If it has been used as a source of cuttings before, its propagated progeny are probably the best source of information about its suitability. If a plant has not been used as a mother before, the smart propagator will consider many factors. One consideration is the plant’s history with respect to pest and disease resistance. William Davis, author of Plant Propagation notes that “In connection with this method of propagation, one important rule should be strictly observed, and that is to select the material from clean, healthy specimens, free from insect pests and disease of any kind.” The quality and quantity of a plant’s flowering and/or production of fruit may be considered. Whether or not a mother plant was quick to mature is another factor to be analysed. In the case of ornamentals, the aesthetic aspects of the plant are also of tremendous importance.

By carefully choosing the mother, the propagator can increase the likelihood of producing strong plantlets and can help assure that the resulting plants will be of the utmost quality.

Proper Selection of Cuttings

Anyone who thinks a propagation effort spearheaded by a series of haphazard cuts from a mother plant will be successful is in for a big disappointment. One of the biggest factors with respect to the success of this method of propagation is the quality of the cuttings themselves. It is critical to properly select and sever the correct cuttings.

The stems of the cuttings should be approximately 5mm in diameter. Cuttings taken from shoots near the top of the mother plants tend perform well-but it is important to remember that the diameter requirement must be met. In the case of woody cuttings, one must make sure the cutting is not too well-developed or too green. One should strive to make use of cuttings that appear strong and that hosted leaves with a healthy appearance.

One cannot simply take a multitude of cuttings, place them in a medium and expect results. The successful propagator will utilise a number of techniques to produce great results in any plant cloning project. Some hallmarks of a talented propagator are an insistence on clean and sterilised equipment, an acute understanding of how to properly choose a mother plant, and the ability to spot and create cuttings that will produce the strongest plantlets.