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Publication: Garden Guides
Taking Cuttings

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                        July 4, 2006

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Advice on Shade Gardening

Types of shade

Dappled - This is shade produced by open trees or by lathe 
structures. There are a wide range of shade loving plants 
that will thrive under these conditions.

Open - Lots of good light available but no direct sunlight.  
This would be in the shadow of a building or fence.

Medium - Light is further obscured by trees or branches.  
Typical of shade that would be found under a deck or 

Dense - Very deep shade, such as in a tunnel entrance or 
northfacing side yard with minimal reflected light. Plant 
selections are fairly limited. 

Types of plants
Rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, hostas, coleus, fuchsia, 
impatiens and caladiums are some of the most popular, color-
ful and easiest to grow shade loving plants.  Visit local 
nurseries to see what other types of shade plants they offer 
in your area, or check online merchants for more ideas for 
your shady spots.

and remember...
Make sure that the ground has a chance to dry out a bit 
between waterings in your shady areas. Since the sun doesn't 
have a chance to dry the soil out, roots can sometimes 
become waterlogged which will encourage root rot.
As well, make sure your plants are spaced out well. Some-
times in the sun we can crowd our plants a little without 
damage, but in shade gardens, air circulation is vital to 
keep your plants in top health.
Finally, the cool damp condition in your shade garden can 
encourages mildew, blight and other problems,  so be sure 
to keep plant and leaf debris picked up which will help 
reduce the spread of disease between plants. 

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Taking Cuttings (How to take a tip cutting.)
By Terry L. Yockey

Professional growers regularly use cuttings to mass produce 
their plants. The same technique can be used by you, the 
home gardener, to increase your stock of a favorite perennial 
which doesn't lend itself easily to division. Compared to 
sowing seed, cuttings will produce a garden-ready plant in 
less than half the time. 

Cuttings taken from plants that are growing steadily 
(generally from spring through fall) have the best chance 
of rooting. It is best done from mid-May to mid-June when 
the new growth has firmed up and will snap when bent in 

For this article I will only discuss tip cutting which is 
using the end of a stem with a growing point at it's tip. 
There are also sectional, basal and heel cuttings, using 
other parts of the stem.

Before starting, clean all your tools well and then steril-
ize them by dipping them in alcohol. Pruning shears tend to 
bruise the stem tissue so if you do use shears, recut the 
stems with a sterilized sharp knife or razor blade.

The lower cut should be made at an angle to maximize the 
amount of cambial tissue exposed to the soil. Roots will 
form readily wherever the cambial tissue comes in contact 
with moist soil.


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At least 12 hours before you take the cuttings, water the 
parent plant well. The newer growth toward the tips should 
be a lighter color than farther down the stem. This new 
growth is the easiest and most likely to root. Take cuttings 
from two to five inches long. Gather them in the early 
morning and then immediantly drop them in a plastic bag to 
retain their moisture. If you aren't planning to stick them 
right away, put the bag in the frig until you are ready.

Remove all leaves and side shoots from the lower two-thirds 
of the stem. This helps prevent stem rot and creates a small 
wound at each node which will encourage rooting. If the stem 
has hardened, lightly scrape it on two sides with a sharp 
blade where it will be buried.

Rooting compound encourages the development of roots plus it 
contains a fungicide which will deter disease during rooting. 
Do not dip the stem directly into the container, but instead 
put a small amount onto a piece of paper and then dip the 
stem and blow off the excess (caution: don't inhale the 

Cuttings can be rooted in almost any container provided that 
it has good drainage. The rooting medium must maintain 
adequate moisture and air around the stem. Fill the container 
with the rooting medium then set it in a pan of water until 
the top of the mix appears moist. Let the container drain for 
ten minutes before sticking the cuttings in.


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Stem cuttings should be inserted so that they are in firm
contact with the planting medium. Poke a hole slightly 
larger than the stem, insert the slip (covered with rooting 
powder) and then firm the medium around it. 

Cuttings need a constant supply of moisture and should be 
protected from drafts. One way to do this is to make a 
plastic tent being careful not to let it touch any of the 
leaves. The ideal soil temperature should be above 65º. The 
best way to keep a constant temperature is to use a heating 
mat made for propagation underneath your flat.

Cuttings also need bright light for photosynthesis, but 
direct sunlight will overheat and dry the foliage. A north 
window or under artificial lighting is the ideal location.

As soon as roots have formed (two to six weeks), the cuttings 
will begin to produce new leaves. Now is the time to fertil-
ize the plants lightly--at one quarter the recommended 
dilution for house plants. 

A good way to check whether the cuttings are ready to be 
transplanted is to lift them gently from the stem. If the 
soil comes up with the roots--it's time to transplant them 
to a larger container.

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