Stem-cutting is another common asexual propagation technique, suited well to herbs and house plants. It involves taking a section of stem from a parent plant and manipulating it to create a new plant. Since the reproduction is asexual, the new plant is genetically identical to the parent and is often referred to as a clone.
The plants like Rose, Bougainvillea, Chrysanthemum, Grapes, Sugarcane, Bananas and Cactus are commonly propagated by cutting.
Starting new plants from stem cuttings is a very simple way of propagation, though it does require a bit more time and attention than other propagation methods.
Make Stem Cuttings
To make your cuttings, select healthy and disease-free growth that’s 3 to 6 inches long and avoid material with flower buds if possible. The cutting should be taken preferably from the upper part of the plant.
- Cut Off a Section of Stem: Cut a 4 to 5-inch long stem or side shoot just below a node (or bud) using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. The node is where the leaf comes off the stem. Plant stems send out new roots from the stem nodes. Making the cutting at the node increases the chances of successful rooting. Try to keep at least two growth nodes on each stem section you cut.
- Remove the Lower Leaves: Remove all but two or three leaves at the top from the cutting. The top leaves will provide the energy needed to grow new roots. Also, remove any flowers or flower buds on the cuttings so that the cutting’s energy can be used in producing new roots rather than flowers.
Plant the Cuttings
Newly rooted cuttings should not be transplanted directly into the landscape. Instead, transplant them into containers or into a bed. Allowing them to grow into larger size before transplanting them to a permanent location will increase their chance of survival.
Before inserting the cutting into the growing medium, remove the lower leaves on the stem but maintain the upper leaves as such because they will provide the energy needed to grow new roots. To plant stem cuttings into the soil, insert about one-third to half of the cutting into the soil. Take care to maintain the vertical orientation of the stem – Do not insert the cutting upside down, otherwise growth will not occur. Space the cuttings far enough apart to allow all leaves to receive the sunlight.
Maintain the Cuttings
It is important to keep a check on moisture level in the soil and water the plant. Maintaining high humidity around the cutting is critical. You can cover the cutting with a plastic bag minimize water loss and make a hole at the top to let in fresh air. This will prevent the cutting from drying out until it can form its own roots in a few weeks. Place the covered container in indirect light.
After a few days, the end of cutting buried in the soil develops roots and later on grows to become a new plant.
Note that it is common for the leaves to turn yellow or rot off in the process due to lack of root system. Feel free to remove them. Also, pinch off any flower buds that develop before the plant is well-root as the bud will take up most of newly rooted cutting’s energy.
The advantage of stem cutting is that the many plants can be grown from a single parent plant in lesser time, without needing and seeds.