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The easiest way to get new plants in a short time is to take cuttings. This works with most perennial plants without any problems and can also be carried out by novice gardeners. Cultivation in water is one of the many methods of propagating cuttings. You can find out how to successfully carry out this procedure here.

Vegetative propagation

Growing many ornamental plants from seed can be quite a complicated or lengthy endeavor. In addition, propagation by seeds often produces plants with different properties. Therefore, cutting cuttings is a good idea. Unlike growing from seeds, this is a purely vegetative type of propagation. The young plants are identical to the mother plant and therefore have the same characteristics in terms of growth, flower color and leaves.

Suitable plants

This type of plant propagation is often used for indoor, potted or balcony plants. It is particularly suitable for hardy shrubs and semi-perennials. A good rule for the suitability for propagation by cuttings is: If the plant sprouts well again after being cut back into the older wood, then this wood can also be grown from cuttings.

  • only use ungrafted plants (no grafted plants)
  • the plant (shoot) should not bear any flowers if possible
  • only suitable for perennial plants
  • not suitable for witch hazel, magnolia and pine trees


In principle, it is possible to propagate almost all plants from cuttings between May and August. However, the time for pruning depends on the type of plant and the individual possibilities of the gardener. In most cases, this method is useful if the plant is cut anyway and the cuttings are a by-product. With plants that do not form new roots from a shoot quite as quickly, the success depends on the optimal time for the cut. The decisive factor here is primarily the degree of maturity of the shoots. If pruned too early, the cuttings are prone to rot. However, cutting too late will make rooting more difficult due to increased woodiness.

perennial cuttings

Experienced gardeners cut their perennial cuttings in April or May. In this way, the young plants can already form roots, new shoots and leaves in the current growth period.

Deciduous trees and shrubs

For most trees, it is advisable to cut the cuttings in early summer. Because at this time the young shoots are already well mature and only slightly woody in the lower area. Shrubs or plants that grow very slowly can also be propagated by cuttings shortly before they are put into winter quarters if the wood is pruned back a little anyway.

Evergreen shrubs

The sticks of evergreen trees are cut a little later than those of deciduous plants. In most cases, late summer between July and August is recommended here.

types of cuttings

Depending on which parts of the mother plant are used for cultivation, there are different types of cuttings:

  • head cuttings
  • partial cuttings
  • cracklings

Taking cuttings: instructions

It is best to disinfect the scissors or knife with alcohol to prevent the transmission of pathogens. While multiple sticks can be placed in a jar, it's best to use a separate container for each one so the roots don't grow together into a single braid and are easier to separate.

Step 1: Obtaining cuttings

Usually only suitable for cuttings young shootsthat have not yet lignified. These shoots should be as strong and healthy as possible. In addition, there must be several leaves on them.

  • well mature, not yet woody shoots
  • strong, flowerless shoots
  • annual shoots on deciduous plants
  • with evergreen shrubs also two to three year old shoots
  • Length: 10-20cm

Step 2: Preparation

Cut the cuttings to about three pairs of leaves. The lower leaves are removed so that only the stem is left in the lower third to half of the cutting. To reduce evaporation, very large leaves are cut in half. For plants that only form large leaves, it is possible to roll them up and fix them with a rubber band.

  • only leave the leaves at the tip of the shoot
  • Rule of thumb: 3 pairs of sheets
  • with alternate leaves: three to five leaves
  • Remove buds and flower heads
  • Cut the lower base of the shoot diagonally

Step 3: Rooting phase

To root, place the cutting in a glass of water immediately after cutting so that the cutting point does not dry out. The leaves should not be immersed in the water, but should lie loosely on the container. The filling level in the glass depends on the length of the cuttings. Fill in just enough liquid to submerge it about three centimeters deep. However, if the shoot is deeper in the water, there is a risk of rot. To shorten the process of root formation, it is advisable to darken the glass with aluminum foil, for example, or to use a cup or mug right away.

  • about 3 cm into the water
  • Distance to the bottom of the vessel: at least 2 cm
  • otherwise the roots will grow laterally
  • Temperature: room temperature
  • Location: warm and bright but out of direct sunlight
  • east or west facing windows
  • conservatory
  • Glasshouse
  • Change water every two to three days
  • pay attention to the filling level in the glass
Ficus cutting

Some woody potted plants, such as hydrangeas or citrus plants, have trouble rooting. Rooting preparations (root activator) can help here.

Alternative for very small cuttings

If it is the sections of robust, small-leaved plants such as the fuchsia, one offers itself space saving alternative to the water glass. The preparation of the individual cuttings remains the same.

  • flat styrofoam sheet (about 0.5 cm thick)
  • other packaging that floats on water
  • punch holes in the plate at intervals of about 3 cm
  • Tools: screwdriver or meat skewer
  • Cut shoots to about 8 - 10 cm long
  • through the holes in the plate
  • up to the beginning of the first pair of leaves
  • below the cuttings must protrude about 3 cm
  • place in a bowl filled with water

You can also let the plate with the small plants float on the garden pond, as long as the temperatures allow it. So you don't have to worry about refilling and changing the water.

Step 4: Duration of root formation

It may take more or less time for the roots to develop. Because the duration depends to a large extent on the type of plant. However, in most plant species, the cutting will root within the next few two to three weeks in the water. Some plants, including conifers or boxwood, need up to a year in the worst case. The roots should be at least two to three centimeters long and show the first branches before the cuttings are repotted in soil. If the cuttings remain in the water for too long, the roots form a ball and the plant can no longer grow well.

Step 5: Potting

If the cutting is individually in a glass of water, it can simply be removed and placed in the ground. In order to then get the rooted plants out of the plate, it is broken through along a row of holes. In this way, the sensitive roots are not injured. The soil for the young plants must be low in nutrients, because this is the only way for the roots to search for the nutrients and root through the soil well.

  • only use containers with a drainage hole
  • about 8 to 10 cm in diameter
  • pots that are too large promote waterlogging
  • Fill the planter loosely with substrate
  • poke a hole in the middle with your finger
  • Planting depth: about 1 cm above the root base
  • Plant roots as vertically as possible
  • carefully cover the roots with substrate
  • Press the soil lightly
  • water lightly

Care of the young plants

After potting, however, the young plants are still very sensitive and must be in a sheltered, warm place until the soil has fully rooted. If large leaves have been rolled up, the rubber ring can now be removed.

  • Location: bright, without midday sun
  • pour carefully
  • Always let the soil dry first
  • do not fertilize in the first few weeks

At least four to six weeks should then elapse before planting out. Cuttings from outdoor plants that only formed roots in autumn are better left in a cool room indoors over the winter before they can be planted out in spring after the last frosts in early May. From this point onwards, indoor and container plants can also be repotted in a substrate suitable for the plant species.

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