Plants can be costly, especially shrubs. But the good news is that it’s easy to create extra plants for your garden for little or no money. Just by taking cuttings from existing plants, saving yourself a lot of money in the process!

At this time of year, the quickest and easiest way to do this is by taking what’s called ‘softwood cuttings’. Simply by using the soft, new growth seen on the stems of mature shrubs.

The best type of plants for doing this are deciduous ornamental shrubs like hydrangea, buddleja and fuchsia. And woody herbs like rosemary and lavender.

What you’ll need

Equipment for cuttings
  • Clean secateurs
  • A sharp knife
  • Peat-free seed or potting compost
  • 7cm pots
  • A pencil
  • A few short thin canes
  • Label
  • A polythene bag and elastic band to cover the plant pot

How to take the cutting

The ideal time to collect the stems is first thing in the morning. As that’s when the stems are most full of water.

Using the secateurs choose fresh, new growth stems without flowers on that bend without resistance.

Feel down the stem until the softness turns into firm, hardwood. Then cut the stems off in the hardwood section, cutting just above a leaf.

Use a sharp knife to cut the softwood part of the stems.

This time cut just below a leaf joint and make the cuttings no more than 10cm long.

Remove leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings and reduce the size of the remaining leaves by half.

This will reduce the amount of water lost from the stem.

Taking cuttings from rose plant

How to plant a softwood cutting

Fill the pots with compost to just below the top rim. Firm gently and water lightly so that the compost is just moist.

Use the pencil to make a hole in the centre of each pot. Next, place a cutting in each so that the lower leaves are just above the compost level.

Add a plant label with the plant name and the cutting date.

Push thin canes into the compost close to the edge of the pot. And then cover the cutting with the polythene bag. Make sure it covers the pot and that the canes stop the polythene from touching the top and sides of the cutting.

Roots emerging out of pots

Hold the bag in place with an elastic band. Leave the cuttings to root in a warm spot out of direct sun.

Whilst you’re waiting for roots to form it’s a good idea to remove the plastic bag periodically to allow some air to get to the cutting. You can also check that the compost is still moist. If not, wet slightly before replacing the plastic bag.

Softwood cuttings usually form roots within three to six weeks. Check by gently lifting the pot to see if small roots protrude from the drainage holes.

Once successfully rooted you simply pot them into slightly larger pots until they’ve established enough to plant in the garden.

With the right care, your softwood cuttings should grow into thriving shrubs to plant out.

Find out more about taking plant cuttings:

taking cuttings

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: