When it comes to growing herbs from stem cuttings, then there are a number of rather important tips that can make a real difference to the way in which those cuttings develop. For some, the mere thought of using stem cuttings is something that stresses them out as they feel that it is difficult to get things to root when this does not have to be the case.
In order to help, we are going to look at seven different tips that should increase the potential success of your stem cuttings and by the end of it, you should feel as if you are in a better position to grow some pretty amazing herbs.
1. Which Plants Can You Use in Order to Take Stem Cuttings?
First, we can look at the variety of herbs that you are able to use in order to first of all take those stem cuttings. The truth of the matter is that virtually any perennial plant that has a stalk can then be used for cuttings and this does mean that most herbs are going to be suitable for this procedure.
However, you should also know that any plant that comes out in what is effectively a clump, think about chives as an example, cannot be used for stem cuttings as there is no stem to speak of. Instead, in that example it has to be done either via seed or by the process of division.
The good news is that there are a long list of herbs that you can take cuttings from and it is rather useful to just look at a list of examples to give you some kind of an indication as to what you need to look out for.
- Winter Savory
- Summer Savory
- Scented Geraniums
- Sweet Woodruff
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Verbena
- Pineapple Sage
Now, that is not the full list of the plants that you can use but it does just let you see the style of herbs that we are talking about here.
2. The Variety of Stem Cuttings You Can Take.
Next, we are going to look at the different types of stem cuttings that you are able to take from herbs and as you will see there are some options available to you. In general, we are going to look at four different options out there and each one is more than capable of working.
- Using tip cutting.
The first is known as tip cutting and the best part about this is that you are using the newest and freshest part of the plant so it should be absolutely primed for being used as a cutting. Look at a strong lead shoot on the plant and use that one.
- Use sectional cutting.
Another option is known as sectional cutting and this is also an effective way of taking a strong shoot from a healthy mother plant. This involves you taking a cutting from the middle of a stem and the outcome is you get a bushier plant due to the number of side shoots that tend to then develop. You also have a cut at either end so have to remember which is the top and which is the bottom.
- Use basal cutting.
This is one type of cutting that fewer people know about but it can be just as effective as other methods. This involves you taking a full side shoot that is at least 6 inches long. This is a strong type of cutting as it will often root quickly due to the fact that it is a very young shoot.
- Use heel cutting.
The final one that we are going to look at is called a heel cutting and this is where you use a basal cutting but also include an aspect of the main stem from which you have taken the initial cutting. This is another fast way for the cutting to take root as it is still young and has an extra boost of nutrients from the main stem.
3. Understanding When to Correctly Take These Cuttings.
Taking cuttings has to be done in both the correct way as well as the correct time. Failure to do this can make it harder for the stem cutting to actually take hold and that in itself does increase the chances of the entire cutting failing. However, by just doing some rather simple things, it does mean that you are able to provide the cutting with everything it needs and at the same time avoid damaging the mother plant.
- Only ever take cuttings between spring and fall.
This is important because taking a cutting between spring and fall does mean that you will be taking it from a healthy and strong plant that is mature enough to withstand the pruning. Also, as the initial mother plant is healthy it does then mean that the cutting will be healthy from the outset.
- Never take cuttings from plants that are flowering.
Prior to taking the cutting, you are going to have to check that the herb is not in the flowering phase of its growth. You must remember that the plant is focusing all of its energy on the flowering aspect rather than the growth area and it also takes different nutrients to help with that part of its development.
- Always take the cuttings from new growth rather than old.
When it comes to taking the cuttings, you should avoid using old growth and it is better if you can focus on the newer and younger growth. These stems are full of life and are in the correct growing phase to then throw out new roots.
- Never have cuttings from plants with too much fertilizer.
This is a mistake that people have a tendency to make in that they believe that if they fertilize a plant and then take cuttings then it is going to result in stronger roots. In actual fact, the plant will have a tendency to be pushing on in the wrong direction with the nutrients as you want roots to appear and not to have a cutting with lush vegetation.
- Make sure that you water plants first.
It is also important that you prepare the herbs before you go ahead and start taking cuttings. The best advice is to water the plants 12 hours before you take the cuttings although this does not mean that you soak them either. However, you should never do it with dry plants either.
4. How to Cut the Stem From Your Plant.
The next point is focused more on how you are going to correctly cut the stem from the herb in the first place as there is a bit more to it than just snipping away. Instead, there are several important steps that need to be followed if you are to avoid running into different kinds of issues later on.
- Remember to get your tools ready.
The first thing is to get your tools ready and what we recommend is a good garden knife in order to take the cutting in the first place. It has to be sharp because there is a very real need for the cut to be clean rather than just hacking away at it.
- Take the cutting from the stem.
When it comes to you taking the cutting from the stem then it is very important that you do so at the correct spot. For example, take from the newer part of the plant and always take the cutting above the branch off from the stem. This leads to the plant being able to then throw out new shoots rather than you completely destroying it.
- Take the stem and strip it.
Now, when we are talking about stripping the stem what we mean is that you remove any of the lower leaves so that only the top couple of pairs are left. The leaves at the bottom are pointless as they will not develop into anything but they are going to use up energy and you want everything to go to the parts that are important.
5. How to Help Get Those Roots Growing.
In this part, we are going to look primarily at the things you can do to really make a difference when it comes to getting those roots to grow. Now, this is obviously going to be important as it makes a huge difference to the eventual health of the plant and even the potential success of your cutting.
- Remember to use a rooting compound.
After you have removed the cutting, it is important that you apply a rooting compound to the base of the cut. This special powder or gel will contain various hormones that are designed to just help boost the cutting and to encourage it to throw out those initial roots. Not doing this is going to mean it will take longer to root if it can actually do so at all.
- Use the correct rooting containers.
You should also want to use the correct rooting containers as it can be to your advantage not to just use any old pot at first. Instead, you can actually take advantage of specific root trainers which force the roots downwards and then provide you with handy sized pods to transplant later.
- Get the rooting medium ready.
Careful attention should also be paid to the rooting medium that you are then using with this because it is essential that you use the correct type of soil to aid in their growth. It should be fertile, well-draining and if you are not sure as to how good it is at draining, then add some sand or perlite to help it out.
- Get the new containers ready.
After you have the rooting medium ready it is then time to prepare the containers. Now, they should be clean and have been disinfected and you need to check for drainage holes. You should then ¾ fill the new container with the soil as it will then be ready for the new cutting to be moved over.
- Supporting the cuttings.
When you move the cuttings over to the new container you have to make a hole in the growing medium that is roughly the same size as the root ball. Once you have put the cutting in the new pot you then close the hole and at this point you are also advised to support the cuttings by adding in a stake and attaching the two together. This give it support and also leads to a stronger plant that is going to remain upright.
- Make sure that you label things.
You have to make sure that you go ahead and label things just so you can keep track of what is potted where and when you did it. This is just to give you peace of mind and as you are probably growing a few different plants then it makes sense to keep track of things.
6. How to Look After Your New Cuttings.
If we can now jump forward slightly and get to the point where you have finished rooting your cuttings and have now got to the point where you have to try to look after them. As you can imagine, you should never just leave them to be in their pots and think that everything will be fine. Instead, this is going to involve a rather fine balancing act on your part to make sure that your cuttings can go on to thrive and to do this there are several steps that you should take.
- Take off any foliage that is stressed.
The first thing is to look at the foliage on your cuttings and remove anything that appears to be stressed. This is going to involve foliage that just does not look its best, it may be curled up or changing color or drooping down. Failure to remove it can actually increase the chances of disease affecting your entire plant.
- Remember to water your cuttings.
As you can imagine it is also very important to water your cuttings, but there is a very real need for you to be careful with how much water you give them or you could be creating a whole host of problems for your own self. At no point should you soak your cuttings as that will not help them. Instead, keeping them slightly moist is going to be the best course of action.
- Make sure that the temperature is moderate.
Now, people are aware that temperature is important, but you are best to keep things nice and moderate in order to get the best responses. By this we really do mean not too hot and not too cold as either can stress the plant out in some way.
- Think about giving them some indirect sunlight.
Plants need sunlight as they take the light and convert it into energy and there is no doubt that sunlight gives them the full spectrum of energy that they need to make things work. You should never just have them shielded away from the natural light unless there really is no option as they gain so much from it.
- Do consider LED grow lights.
However, as a follow on to the previous point, if you need to supplement the natural light because they are going to struggle to get enough hours to help them to grow, then the best option is to go ahead and use LED grow lights. This provides them with the full spectrum of light for every part of the growing phase which is always going to lead to better plants.
7. Helping You to Transfer Your Cuttings.
If we can now say that the plants are ready to be moved into a bigger pot as you can see that they have grown quite considerably so they have obviously taken root and are enjoying life as a new cutting. However, as with everything else, there are several steps to follow to make sure that the transplanting of your cuttings does not send them backwards.
- Do it as soon as the roots have become established.
This is important but you need to transplant your cuttings as soon as the roots have become established. Leave it too late and the plants could become root bound and then you have another problem that you have to deal with.
- Make sure that the cuttings are well watered as soon as you have transplanted.
Cuttings need water as soon as they have been moved to their new container. However, you need to be careful with how much you give them as there is no way that they should end up being saturated. With this, you should really just moisten the soil after moving them over and make sure that you press the cutting down firmly so it can really bond with the soil.
- Give them some fertilizer.
Moving over to a new pot is a stressful situation and at the same time you want to really encourage some new growth as quickly as possible. In order to do this, you should always provide them with some fertilizer and make sure that it is balanced between nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This will lead to the plant being able to establish itself better and will then go on to grow into a pretty impressive plant.
The seven tips listed above are all designed to just make life that bit easier when it comes to you trying to grow herbs from stem cuttings. However, you do still need to take the time to do things right and provide the correct growing conditions or else no tip in the world is going to help you out.