What is a cutting?
Taking a plant cutting is one of the most preferred way to propagate plants. Plant Cuttings, also referred to as “clones” or “cloning” is where a small to medium section of a mother plant (grown from seed as it is not advised to have your mother plant as a clone) is taken and placed into its own environment wherein it can establish it’s own roots and become an independent plant. A few factors will affect the quality of a regrown cutting such as hydration levels, environmental factors and the amount of growth hormones present in the cutting. When you take a cutting you must make sure that your mother plant is well established, around two months old and in the vegetative state. Ensure that the mother plant has been watered, as taking a cutting will stress it slightly, so providing nutrients that aid in regrowth will be highly beneficial.
Are there benefits to taking Cuttings?
Plant cells have a unique ability in which they can duplicate every part of the plant. Meaning that you could create an entirely new plant for free. Whilst this sounds great, taking cuttings from a plant that was a cutting is sometimes looked down on, as the cutting is the same age as the mother plant. Fourth generation cuttings are less efficient and will provide fewer yields opposed to a first generation seed. Cuttings can be a very cost effective way of growing plants but be sure to take into consideration the age of your plants and how this will affect your end product.
How To Take A Plant Cutting
Firstly, ensure your mother plant is strong and ready to handle the stress of the procedure. It is not recommended to take a cutting from a plant younger than 2 months old and it must be in the vegetative state. As previously stated, water your plant before taking a cutting! This is to ensure the most optimal regrowth for both cutting and mother plant!
Generally, cuttings will root better if they are taken from the top of the plant where there is a higher concentration of the necessary growth hormones needed for rooting and plant establishment. Look for a stem with 3 to 5 inches in length and between an eighth of an inch wide, with 3 or 4 sets of leaves. As for the amount of cuttings you can take, that depends on your mother plant, make sure that you take less than half from it.
Take the Cutting
Take a knife or scalpel and sterilize it using either rubbing alcohol, boiling water or a lighter flame. Then, cut of the desired stem from the mother plant at a 45-degree angle in-between leaf joints. Be sure not to damage any leaves as you do this.
Trim off the bottommost set of leaves and ensure you leave the nodes exposed as they are packed with potential rooting cells. Trim off any unnecessary fan/sun leaves and cut other large leaves in half to reduce transpiration. Cuttings are very sensitive to be sure not to smoke around them as they can be infected with plant diseases that can be present in tobacco.
To help promote the healthy establishment of roots, add some rooting gel, powder or stimulant into a separate container and dip the end of the cutting into it, including the bottom two leaf nodes that you exposed in the previous step. Do not dip the cutting directly into the root stimulant container as this could cause cross contamination issues and render the stimulant ineffective.
For your rooting medium you can use coco coir, soil or Rockwool cubes.
If you’re using a medium like soil or coco, its advised that it is moist but not soggy.
For Rockwool cubes, you should presoak the cubes with a seedling appropriate nutrient feed (or root stimulator) and shaken to remove excess feed. Don’t squeeze the cubes as this will ruin the structure and remove crucial oxygen.
Propagation for freshly planted cuttings is absolutely. The cuttings must remain in an environment in which the humidity is maintained between 70%and 80% the temperature should be no higher than 25 and no lower than 20 degrees celcius. Keep your cuttings under a soft fluorescent or LED light for 18hrs a day, you could even use a low wattage CFL bulb for this purpose, though you should make sure not to burn your vulnerable plants with high strength lighting, they don’t need it yet!