Take Softwood Cuttings Of Ornamental Shrubs For Autumn Planting

This is the time of year that you may wish to turn your attention to increasing your stock of ornamental shrubs. This is easy to do with a number of different plants by taking softwood cuttings. These cuttings should root and can then by planted out in the autumn to fill any gaps in your beds or borders. This is a great, low-cost way to prepare to replace old plants or to improve your existing garden with plants that you already know will grow well there.

HydrangeaRibesAbelia, Caryopteris, Forsythia, Hydrangea, Potentilla and Ribes are amongst the shrubs you can propagate fairly easily and successfully in this way, though the same method can be used for a wide variety of different garden shrubs. Cuttings taken from these plants will be exact copies of the parent and will help you to retain characteristics of plants that have adapted well to your garden.

Choose strong, new, non-flowering shoots and cut these off at a length of five to ten centimetres with some secateurs. Trim your cutting just below a leaf node with a sharp knife and remove the leaves from the lower portion of the cutting to leave just four or so leaves at the top.

If the shrub you have taken the cutting from has larger leaves then it is a good idea to reduce the leaf area by simply cutting off the outer half of each one. This will help to minimise water loss from the cutting while it does not have roots to replace it. Cuttings drying out is one of the biggest causes of disappointment when it comes to softwood cuttings, though you will also have to be careful not to allow the cuttings to become waterlogged as this can cause the stems to rot before roots can form.

Dipping the base of the cutting in hormone rooting powder will increase the chances of success for each cutting but is not essential. Sometimes it is better to simply take a chance without it. You can increase your chances of success by taking several cuttings for each plant you wish to propagate and not stressing too much if only one takes.

Rooted CuttingsFill pots with a moist but aerated and free-draining potting compost mix and place your cuttings around the edges of these pots. Placing cuttings on the edge of the pots will make it easier for them to retain their moisture until roots can form. You can further reduce moisture loss by covering the pot with a cloche or a clear plastic bag secured with a rubber band. Place the cuttings in a reasonably warm place out of direct sunlight to allow the roots to form. This will usually take a few weeks.

Check the bottom of pots or gently pull on cuttings to see if there is some resistance after around three weeks. If there is then it is likely that roots have begun to form. When roots have firmly taken hold, each cutting can be potted on into its own container and can be planted into its growing position in the autumn.