Propagating with Root Cuttings

Using root cuttings to grow new plants is an easy and reliable way to get great results.

Let the Root System Grow

Let the Root System Grow

Although leaf growth may appear after planting a root cutting. Don't be tempted to replant until you see roots poking through the bottom of the pot.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Although leaf growth may appear after planting a root cutting. Don't be tempted to replant until you see roots poking through the bottom of the pot.

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It is the best way to multiply perennial border phloxes, because it does not transmit eelworm, a pest that infests their top-growth. Root cuttings of variegated plants will produce all-green plants.

Cuttings are normally taken during the plant’s dormant period in midwinter, to minimize disturbance and injury. Always choose a healthy plant. Lift small plants out of the ground completely with a fork and replant immediately after taking the cuttings. With larger plants, scrape away enough soil to expose the roots, and then replace and firm the soil at once to avoid destabilizing the plant. Never remove more than a few roots from each plant.

Most plants propagated this way have thick roots, which are planted upright. Plants such as phlox and Primula denticulata have thin roots, which are rooted horizontally in trays.

About six months after planting a root cutting, leaf growth may appear before plants have had a chance to make good root systems. Wait until you see roots near the holes at the bottom of the pot before transplanting.