A Cut Above: Cloning Plants

David Abrego

Maybe you haven’t considered cloning your favorite plant, but many garden plants including those sold in warehouse nurseries are clones!

Cloning is a simple vegetative method for obtaining exact genetic duplicates of existing plants. Most commonly used for large-scale propagation, it’s also an easy way to take plants with you when you move or to scale them down for winter storage.

Success depends on several factors. Some plants such as coleus, hibiscus and roses can be rooted very easily when cuttings are placed in a growing medium. Others, particularly woody plants, will need the help of a root stimulator or rooting hormone.

For successful cloning, you need:

  • Sharp, clean pruning shears – Make the cut right beneath a node and take a cutting with at least three nodes above the cut. Minimize the cutting’s energy needs by using the smallest cutting possible; larger pieces are more difficult to establish.
  • Healthy, uncontaminated soil – Plant at least two nodes under the soil, where the roots will form. Leave the upper node in the air to produce leaves and buds.
  • A warm, humid environment – Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight for the first four to five days. During that time, water frequently with a fine mist spray directly onto the leaves to keep them from drying out.
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Roots begin to develop in one to four weeks, first appearing as fine, white strands. After a month, your cuttings should be ready to transfer. Good luck!

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