Budget garden: How to grow plants from cuttings

If you’ve always admired the long, twisting vines of your mother’s philodendron, or the whimsical clover-shaped leaves of a shamrock plant in your grandmother’s window, you can have one too at no cost. Do a cutting. This simple way of multiplying plants takes just an afternoon to complete and a few months until you can pot the plant. Here’s how!

1. Time the cutting

The best time to do a plant cutting is when the plant is at rest. Wait until it’s not budding or blooming. You don’t want to stress the plant while it’s focusing on nurturing the blooms. Instead, clip when the plant has vibrant foliage, and no buds.

2. Make the cut

Use a pair of sharp scissors and don’t be afraid to take a thick, healthy stem of the plant. Snip through an offshoot of the main plant, taking at least 5-to 6-inches of greenery including stem and leaves. The cut should be at a diagonal. The cut area will eventually heal on the plant, and often spawn new growth.

3. Grow the roots

Immediately place the cut end of the plant clipping in a small glass of water. An old jelly jar or juice glass is the perfect size. Make sure the leaves are above the water line. You don’t need to add anything to the water, but plan to change it at least once a week. This reduces build-up of bacteria in the water, and helps to keep your new plant healthy.

Now it’s time to wait. Small roots will begin to grow from the cut part of the plant. It can take a few weeks for the roots to develop under the water, and up to two months before there’s enough of a root ball to pot the new plant. Keep the plant on a window sill or near any other source of natural light.

4. Pot the plant

Once you notice a small cluster of thriving roots, fill a pot with potting soil and plant the cutting. Let the plant establish itself in the small pot for a few months before transplanting it outside or into a more decorative indoor pot.

Ready to start a few plant cuttings? Avoid plants originating from bulbs and clip from well-established plants. A few to try include gardenias, azaleas and hydrangeas. According to the Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture you can also do cuttings with individual leaves and foliage-free stems. Experiment with cutting to grow your own garden economically!