Autumn Softwood Plant Cuttings

Many gardeners like to think of themselves as thrifty individuals. Why go to the expense of buying anything new when you can cobble it together from odds and ends?

Created by Martyn Loach on Wednesday, 6th of November, 2013.
Updated on Tuesday, 1st of November, 2016.


Autumn Softwood Plant Cuttings

When it comes to plants they are only too happy to take softwood cuttings in the spring, forgetting that in the autumn they can also extend the life of many plants, saving money next year.

Best Plants for Cuttings

Forget about annuals whether hardy or half-hardy. Sweet peas, poppies, cosmos, French marigolds, nemesia and the like can be consigned to the compost heap after flowering or when you have collected seed. 

However if you take cuttings from tender perennials such as fuchias, gazanias and geraniums and protect them over winter you'll be rewarded with lots of free plants in the spring.

Tender plants are also worth propagating in case we have a hard frosts or they don't survive several weeks in their greenhouse winter quarters.

Taking and Planting Cuttings

If you have any lavender, salvia, hebe, verbena or penstemon, get out into the garden now and take end of season cuttings that will take root before they become dormant.

Cut off the end of a non-flowering shoot about 5ins long just above a leaf. Remove any lower leaves. Make a clean cut just below a leaf joint, leaving a cutting that is about 4ins. Fuchsias are an exception, preferring to root from shorter cuttings, maybe only one or two inches. 

Now plant the cuttings, perhaps with a dusting of hormone rooting power, to about half of their length around the edge of a small pot filled with compost, a little sharp sand or grit should be added to improve drainage.

Water and then cover all but geraniums, and any other cutting with soft downy leaves, with a small plastic bag to conserve moisture and encourage humidity. After about six weeks this can be removed.

Stand the pots in good light but not direct sun. Water sparingly and remove any dead leaves, flowerbuds or cuttings that wilt and have clearly not taken. 

In late March or early April you can pot the rooted plants individually and feel very pleased with yourself.

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