Propagating Shrubs From Cuttings

Updated April 17, 2017

Propagating shrubs is an easy and inexpensive way to increase the existing shrubs in your yard. The best time to propagate is in the fall or spring. Almost any kind of shrub will work. Do not try to take cuttings or propagate stems that are older or mature. Pliable stems that bend without breaking are the best ones to choose. You can propagate shrubs by cuttings that are started indoors in pots, or you can use a layering method.

Take cuttings from new wood with sharp shears. Each cutting should measure 6 to 12 inches long. They need at least three to four nodes. Do this in the autumn after the leaves fall.

Fill a container with sand or vermiculite until two-thirds full. Lay the cuttings lengthwise across the sand, and finish burying them with sand. Keep the sand or vermiculite moist, but not soggy. Do not keep them too moist, or they will rot.

Fill a 2 to 3 inch deep pot with well-draining potting soil when the weather warms. Remove the cuttings that you have stored through the winter from the sand or vermiculite container.

Wet one end of the cutting with water, and then dip it in rooting hormone. Place the end with the rooting hormone into the pot.

Place the pot in a sunny window, and keep the soil moist. This is when they will form their roots. You can cover then with a plastic bag to keep the humidity high, but check it to make sure that there is no mould growing. If there is, remove the bag for several hours.

Transplant in a prepared area when roots are established. This is best done when the weather is warm, and there is no chance of frost.

Water the area thoroughly, and add a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch around each plant.

Find a pliable stem that will bend to the ground. Mark this place with a stone or twig where the stem touched the ground. Make sure to leave several inches of the stem's tip sticking out of the ground.

Make a wound in the stem with a sharp knife where the stem touched the ground. This is done by scraping away the bark in a half inch length.

Wet the wounded area with water, and then apply rooting hormone. This will help the roots to develop.

Dig a trench style hole with your spade at the place you marked in the ground. Place the wounded part of the stem into this hole.

Cover the hole with soil. If the stem does not want to stay in the soil, place a rock, brick or insert a U shaped piece of wire into the ground over the stem to hold it in the soil.

Leave this to grow with the parent plant for at least a year before you sever it from the parent. Then dig it up and transplant.


Store the container that contains the cuttings in a dark location where the temperature remains around 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The basement is an ideal place to store them, or if you have room, place them into a refrigerator.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp shears
  • Container
  • Sand or vermiculite
  • Water
  • 2 to 3 inch deep pot
  • Well-draining potting soil
  • Rooting hormone
  • Plastic bag
  • Garden fork
  • Compost
  • Sharp knife
  • Bricks, rocks or a U-shaped wire
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About the Author

Gail Delaney is a writer in South Dakota and has articles published online at various websites. She is the garden editor for BellaOnline, with years of gardening experience. Being the caretaker of her parents led her in the direction of medical issues, especially natural remedies.