Grow new herbs from cuttings easily and for free! Late-summer is the perfect time to do this, though cuttings can be taken almost any time.
With cuttings, you can increase the number of perennial herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme in your garden. Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from stems that are beginning to ‘ripen’, or become woody at the base. Cuttings are best taken in the morning when it’s cooler, as they are less likely to wilt.
How to Take Semi-Ripe Cuttings
- Choose a non-flowering stem that is healthy and undamaged and make a cut using a sharp pair of clean pruners.
- Place your cuttings into a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. (They can be kept in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours if you can’t prepare them straight away)
- Trim the cutting to about 4-6 inches long, making the cut just below a leaf joint. Snip or pull off the lower leaves so only three or four remain.
- Dip the end of the cuttings into organic hormone rooting powder or gel to improve your chances of success.
Potting Up Herb Cuttings
- Mix potting soil 50:50 with sharp sand, or alternatively mix one-third sterilized topsoil, one-third sharp sand and one-third leafmold.
- Fill plastic pots or plug trays with the mix, and insert the cuttings up to the first set of leaves. About three cuttings per 4-inch pot is about right, or one cutting per plug tray cell.
- Firm the potting soil around them, and water them.
- Keep your cuttings in a warm, humid place such as a cold frame or greenhouse. Provide shade from hot sun, make sure the cuttings mix remains moist, and ventilate in hot weather.
- If you don’t have a cold frame or other suitable structure, you can keep humidity high by covering pots with clear plastic bags secured in place with rubber bands. Keep your pots on a bright windowsill, but out of direct sunlight.
Cuttings can take a little as six weeks to take root, or may take up to four months.
Growing Cuttings On
Leave your cuttings in their pots until spring, by which time they should be well-rooted. They’re then ready to be potted on.
Remove the cuttings from their pot and carefully tease the roots apart. Plant them in individual pots of fresh potting soil. Grow them on for a few more weeks, and then they’ll be ready to plant outdoors.
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