How to Take Root Cuttings

Given the right conditions, plants can be rooted from stem cuttings in spring or summer, or in late winter from pieces of root.
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With the exception of variegated plants, which produce only green shoots from root cuttings, many perennials can be propagated using this method. Never take more than a few roots from each plant, and quickly replace the plants in the soil. Thin roots, such as those of garden phlox, should be laid horizontally on the soil to root.

Suitable Plants

Phlox Paniculata

Phlox Paniculata

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Anemone
Bear’s breeches
Bellflower (Campanula)
Flowering kale (Crambe)
Bleeding heart
Globe thistle
Plume poppy
Oriental poppy
Sea holly (Eryngium)
Tree poppy (Romneya)
Verbascum

Trim Off Healthy Roots

In winter or early spring, lift the plant, scraping away soil from larger plants to expose the roots. Cutting close to the stems (crown), remove three or four fat, healthy roots, avoiding brittle, damaged or woody pieces. Seal in a plastic bag.

Propagate Roots

Propagate Roots

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cut Top and Bottom

Cut each root into 2- to 3-inch segments with a sharp knife. Trim the top end (nearest the crown) straight across and the bottom at an angle, to make sure you plant them right end up. You don't need to do this with thin roots.

Root Propagation

Root Propagation

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Up

Insert the root cuttings vertically in pots of soil (with the blunt end at the top), spacing them 2 inches apart. Lay thinner roots on the surface, covering them with 1/2 inch of coarse sand or grit. Water the roots with a diluted fungicide and move pots to a sheltered spot outside.

Planting Root Cuttings

Planting Root Cuttings

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aftercare

Cover pots and trays with a plastic tent, or place them in a cold frame, and keep the soil damp. When weather warms, be sure that the cold frame or plastic tent doesn't get too hot. The cuttings should be well rooted in about six months. They may produce shoots beforehand but wait until roots appear at the holes at the bottom of the pots before transplanting.

Root Cuttings Ready in Six Months

Root Cuttings Ready in Six Months

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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