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  • Writer's pictureKate

Big Grow how to grow and use no.3: Cuttings

This one is a little different: If you have some plants or are able to get hold of bits other people are cutting off or digging up plants you like, here's how to end up with more of the things you want to grow- no rooting hormone or magical techniques needed!

How to grow plants from CUTTINGS

Grow Hardwood Cuttings

These are the easiest type of cutting. They’re mostly done in the autumn, winter and early spring when the plants are dormant– but can be done with many plants in summer too. Hardwood cuttings can take many months to root– don’t give up on them for at least a year!

1. Cut a thin branch of the plant you want, then cut the branch into pieces. Make sure there is a bud at the top and bottom of each piece.

2. Push the pieces into soil or compost. Keep watered and wait until they are growing strongly.

3. Separate the cuttings and plant where you like.

Hardwood cuttings generally work best in the ground, not pots if possible, being ignored except for watering in very dry weather. Shorter cuttings (about 20cm) usually work best but longer pieces often also root. Blackcurrants and willow will root in a jamjar of water.

Grow Softwood Cuttings

These need a bit more care than hardwood cuttings. When watering, think about how much water the adult plant wants: Dry herbs like lavender or rosemary won’t like getting too wet– but juicy plants like fuschia may be most easily rooted in a jamjar of water. Tomato side shoots make fantastic softwood cuttings which fruit almost as early as their parent plants!

1. Take short sections of the plant you want and remove all but the top leaves.

2. Gently push cuttings around the edge of a pot filled with compost (use a teaspoon handle to make holes for the stems).

3. Water well and wait for the cuttings to grow.

Softwood cuttings dry out easily. Covering cuttings with a plastic bag until they start growing may help– and keep them in a light place out of direct sun.

Other Ways to Get New Plants

Root cuttings

These work the same way as hardwood or softwood cuttings– great for mints, horseradish and any other plants that easily grow back from roots when cut down (though you probably don't want to start taking dandelion or bindweed root cuttings on purpose)!


Plants like strawberries send out baby plants on long stems called runners. Allow the runners to root into a pot or the soil, then cut them free of the parent plant and move them wherever you want.


Make plants behave as though they send out runners. Bend stems over and pin them to the ground with something secure (a rock, a tent peg etc). Many plants will root into the ground, giving you new plants– but it may take a year to work. Air layering is a similar method– google it if interested! Great for fruit bushes if you have time.


Plants that form clumps such as chives, rhubarb, lemon balm and most herbaceous (die back in winter) plants can simply be chopped into chunks with a trowel or spade. Plant chunks in separate places to get lots of new plants!

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