Step by step
At its most simple, all you do is cut a length of plant stem, remove the lower leaves, and put it in a pot of compost. Do just that and it might work, but there are some simple tips that will massively increase your chances of success. Here is how to do it in ten steps.
- Prepare some smallish pots of watered compost. If you can make the compost free-draining by adding some grit (50:50 is ideal), all the better.
- Choose a wildlife-friendly plant you want to make a cutting from and cut a length of new stem about 15cm long. There are all sorts of plants you can take cuttings from – see my recommended list at the end of this feature. Important: your cutting should not have any flowers or flower buds on it.
- Pop each cutting into a sealable plastic bag. A wilted cutting won’t work.
- Cut off all lower leaves with sharp secateurs or a knife (taking care when doing this) – you just want a couple of postage stamps of leaf left at the top at most.
- Then cut neatly just below what is called a node, the point where a leaf was attached, to leave about 10cm or so of cutting.
- Put your cutting down the side of the pot, all the way to just below those retained leaves at the top. It can help to poke a hole first with a pencil. Put several cuttings to one pot to give yourself more chances of success. Firm your cuttings in.
- Put a plastic bag tent over the top, held in place with an elastic band around the pot. Use some sticks to create a frame that the bag can sit over so that the plastic doesn’t rest against the cuttings.
- Put in a light, warm position such as a well-lit windowsill, but not in direct sunlight.
- Keep moist but not sodden.
- Once a cutting has put on some new growth, which can be in as little as 2–3 weeks, lift it gently out and plant in its own pot. However, the later you take cuttings in the season (such as in late summer), the longer it takes for them to put out roots, so just be patient, give them the time they need.