caring for clippings and cuttings

How to Take Care of Plant Clippings & Cuttings

Sometimes, we want two of a one-of-a-kind plant. Whether it’s to keep for ourselves or for sharing the plant goodness among others, knowing how to multiply your plants properly is an invaluable skill. 

Propagating your plants can be a rewarding experience if done right. So, in this article, we’re going to learn the right way to take care of your plant’s clipping and cuttings! 

So, let’s put the ‘pro’ in propagation and get right to it!


Sharp knife or pruning shears
for potting up the cuttings
Potting mix
, perlite, vermiculite, or sand
Rooting hormone

A quick note about rooting hormones

When you’re faced with a barrage of big, winding names that all promise to work wonders on your healing plant, always reach for auxins. These organic hormones inform plants when and where to form roots.

Rooting hormones can be found in powder, gel, or liquid form. We’ll find out which is the best pick for you below!

Woody plants, such as shrubs and some perennials, root best when treated with a rooting hormone and placed into a potting mix. Many soft-stemmed plants can produce roots in just a vase of water.

The elements of a successful cut

If you’re going to compromise or scrimp on anything, let it not be water. Water is the very thing your cuttings and clippings will survive on when they’ve been extracted from the mother plant.

Admittedly, it’s a delicate procedure. However, if water levels drop below 100% for even just a moment, all hope can be lost.

Know when to cut

On a day-sized scale, early morning is best. That’s when plants have the most water. Seasonally, they vary on when they prefer to undergo propagation.

Let’s take a look:

Softwood cuttings

Softwood cuttings prefer more delicate conditions. Spring and early summer suits them just fine, but if they’re spotted by mid-summer, they’ll have enough roots to weather the winter.

Greenwood cuttings

Preferring things to be a little warmer, Greenwood cuttings perform best if clipped from late spring to mid-summer.

Semi-hardwood cuttings

Semi-hardwood cuttings take best to cutting when their stems are still in their teenage era, partly but not fully mature. Work on them between late summer and early fall, and they should be thriving by the following year.

Hardwood cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are taken in the dormant season (mid-autumn until late winter) after leaf fall, avoiding periods of severe frost. The ideal time is just after leaf fall or just before bud-burst in spring.

How to prepare your tools

Before you even think of taking a sharp object to your plant, be sure that it’s cold (perhaps straight from the fridge or freezer) and wet (keep a bowl of water nearby.) Moreover, give it a good scrubbing beforehand to be sure there are no germs or debris present on the blade.

Warning: If you think your knife, scissors, or pruner are even a tad on the blunt size, give them a miss. Your tools need to be razor-sharp to avoid any excessive scuffing or trauma. 

Now to get down to business.

How to take care of your plant cuttings and clippings

Step one: Examine your plant

Look for the area below the leaf or vine/stem juncture. There, you should find a root node – the browner, the better. These small bumps are the holy grail of propagating success. 

If there are 2 – 3 inches of stem above this node, you’re in luck. That’s the minimal amount of plant length needed to sustain cuttings and clippings. 

Also, extra nodes above the incision zone are always welcome! After all, nodes are where new roots grow from.

Step 2: Fresh cut

Carefully cut just below the node. A shaky, unsteady hand is fine as long as you know exactly where to cut!

Tip: Some people find that steadying their arms or wrists against a table helps settle any jitters.

Step 3: Clean up!

Remove leaves from near the node, especially ones submerged in water or soil. What you’re looking for is a relatively smooth and clean stem.

Step 4: Water, water, water

Gently place the tip of your cuttings directly into freshwater or wrap them up in a wet cloth/tissue. Intense hydration is key.

Step 5: It’s time to get hormonal

Sprinkle rooting powder directly onto the top layer of the soil you have prepared or dip the exposed tip of the stem (where you cut) directly into the rooting powder. 

If you opted for a gel-based hormonal treatment, rub the gel carefully onto the exposed part of the stem.

When it comes to liquid root hormone, you’ll have to go DIY. Dissolve some hormone root powder into water by stirring, and you should be good to go! Keep in mind that a teaspoon or two should suffice for an average-sized pot.

Step 6: A lot of TLC – How to keep your plant cuttings safe and healthy

As long as you take your cuttings from healthy plants, free of disease and insects, you should have nothing to worry about. However, as they begin to root, especially if your humidity is high, you may want to spray a fungicide on the clipping to prevent damping-off.


When your cuttings are rooting, you should keep them in light for around 18 hours a day. You can even push it up to 24 hours if you’d rather avoid the hassle of moving them or turning the light on and off. 

Once the roots are relatively established, be sure to give them 6 hours night-time every day.


Forget about fertilizing until you spot tiny root hairs (or have suspicion to believe that root hairs are spouting below the surface!) Then, if you see fit, you can start adding fertilizer lightly to your growth-positive mix.

Getting the temperature just right

Not too hot, not too gold. Your cuttings need heat to promote root growth, but too much and vegetative growth takes over – not what we want. On the flip side, if their environment is too cold, they’re likely to grow slowly or not at all! So find a nice medium, a little over room temperature should keep them nice and cozy and ripe for healthy growth.


Propagating plants can be tricky and even sweat-inducing. However, with the right care, attention, and following a few tried and tested steps (outlined above), you can ensure your little cuttings and clippings reach their full potential. It won’t be easy, but it’s always worth it for a new addition to your plant family – more is always better! So, why not get started today (or whenever is recommended for your plant!) Keeping your plant cuttings in good shape and watching them grow is a rewarding and fun experience like no other. Or, you could share them with friends and family! Either way, you won’t regret it!


Pruning shears

Rooting Gel

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