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. 

Next Up

A Guide to Rooting Cuttings

Learn how to root softwood and hardwood cuttings with these simple tips.

Propagating Plants With Ease

Check out these techniques for stem, leaf and leaf-fragment cuttings, plus air layering.

How to Propagate Plants

When seeds are unable to reproduce naturally, propagating helps you make more plants. 

How to Propagate with Softwood Cuttings

Softwood cuttings are taken from soft, new growth at the tips of nonflowering shoots, produced in spring and early summer. Most root in six to eight weeks. Softwood shoots wilt quickly; take cuttings early in the day before the sun gets hot.

Growing Plants from Cuttings

Cuttings are portions of plant stem or root (occasionally leaves or a bud) cut from a strong, healthy parent plant and encouraged to develop their own roots. Taking cuttings is probably the most popular propagation technique after sowing seed.

Propagating Begonias

Make some baby begonias with these tips.

How to Propagate with Semiripe Cuttings

Semiripe cuttings are often used to propagate climbers, conifers, tender perennials and shrubs that do not grow well from hardwood cuttings.

How to Propagate with Hardwood Cuttings

Use this propagation method for deciduous trees, shrubs, roses, and climbers.

Propagate Roses Quickly

Follow these easy step-by-step instructions on taking care of roses.

How to Propagate Succulents

Don't buy another plant—creating new succulents from existing leaves couldn't be easier.