The Knack of Cuttings
A lot of plants are finicky about when they like to be cloned.
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by Marie Hofer, Gardening editor, HGTV.com
If only every plant were like coleus — where plopping a sprig in a glass of water guarantees a crop of roots in a couple of weeks or so, and it doesn't matter what time of year you do it.
Softwood cuttings. What you're doing here is selecting the new growth on the plant. Take these at the time when such growth normally appears on the plant you want to reproduce — for woody shrubs, that's usually late spring or early summer. Look for stems that are pliable and green and not hardened, but avoid the tender new shoots. To determine whether the stem is ready for cutting, bend it at a 90-degree angle. If it snaps, it's ready; if it bends without breaking, it's not.
Great candidates for softwood cuttings: lilac, forsythia, euonymus, aucuba, camellia, hydrangea, deutzia, crape myrtle, kerria, rose of Sharon, butterfly bush, photinia, viburnum, spirea, mockorange, sweetshrub, Chinese hibiscus, blueberry, raspberry, elderberry.
How to do it:
Semi-hardwood cuttings. Here, the wood is fairly hard, and the leaves are full-size. This type of cutting is usually taken between mid- to late summer.
Great candidates: clematis, camellia, daphne, azalea, holly (English, Chinese, Japanese, American, yaupon, Foster), rose, juniper, Leyland cypress, jasmine, Chinese hibiscus.
Hardwood cuttings. Take hardwood cuttings in the dormant season, cutting about four to six inches of tip growth. Dip in rooting hormone and stick in potting medium (or directly in soil if it's loose and friable). Mist daily and keep covered in a humidity tent.
Great candidates: juniper, spruce, Chamaecyparis, cedar, hydrangea, rose, spirea, crapemyrtle, hydrangea, heath, heather, broom, wisteria, camellia, abelia, rhododendron, viburnum, yew.
Herbaceous cuttings. A three- to five-inch cutting usually roots easily, and rooting hormone usually isn't necessary.
Great candidates: many perennials and annuals, including coleus, dahlia, bleeding heart, bellflower, yarrow, dianthus, aster, chrysanthemum and coreopsis.