How many times have we received a beautiful (perhaps rare) plant as a gift and wished it could live forever, or would we have liked to have other equal ones in different parts of the house or garden?
To fulfill these and other wishes or needs, we resort to the "propagation of plants" that is to say their duplication which, when it occurs through human intervention, can be carried out with various methods including that of cuttings.
What is cutting
The cutting is a specific propagation technique that allows you to multiply an existing plant into many small genetically identical seedlings.
This multiplication takes place by taking some parts of the mother plant (branches, leaves or pieces of roots) and placing them in a substrate suitable for their development as independent seedlings.
The term "cutting" indicates both the portion of the mother plant used for propagation and the propagation technique itself.
Propagation by cuttings is applied to a wide range of plants: from aromatic plants (rosemary, sage, mint, thyme, basil, parsley and chilli) to ornamental plants (geraniums, begonias, azaleas and roses) and fruit plants (vines) up to some types of shrubs (jasmine and hibiscus).
Depending on the type of plant to be propagated, the cutting procedure varies according to the structure and behavior of the plant itself.
The factors that vary the cutting process for the various types of plants are, for example: which portion of the mother plant to take (branches, leaves or roots), the time of year in which to remove the cutting so that it can develop more easily , the type of substrate to be used, the addition or not of radicalizing hormones, etc...
For this reason, before attempting the execution, it is important to find out well about the procedure to follow for our specific plant in order to obtain the greatest possible probability of success.
The cutting for aromatic plants
As is well known, aromatic plants are invaluable allies in many aspects of our daily life.
From a culinary point of view, herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme and parsley (just to name a few), make our dishes unique, enriching them with intense flavors and aromas.
Thanks to their medicinal and therapeutic properties, aromatic herbs help our physical and mental well-being.
Furthermore, for gardening lovers they give great satisfaction as they are really easy plants to grow even in pots as all they need is water and sun.
Having an aromatic garden on the balcony with our favorite herbs available throughout the year allows us to have access to always fresh herbs, grown by us in a natural way and which can therefore release all their beneficial properties for a more healthy cuisine.
The propagation process by cutting is more or less similar for all aromatic herbs and involves taking a young branch from the mother plant.
Procedure for making a rosemary seedling by cutting
To illustrate how to propagate aromatic plants by cuttings, let's take for example a rosemary mother plant from which to obtain new seedlings.
To have a better chance of success, the process of multiplication by cuttings is generally carried out in a period that goes from the months of April/May up to the autumn months of September/October excluding the hot months of full summer such as July and August.
Here are the steps to follow to create our rosemary seedlings from the mother plant:
- We cut from the mother plant some young twigs whose stem is not yet woody, 10-15 cm long. We can also use the branches that we usually cut to periodically prune our mother plant.
- For each sprig, remove the rosemary leaves for 5-6 cm starting from the lower end of the stem so that only the needles remain in the upper part.
- We place our sprigs in a non-colored transparent glass jar full of water. Let's bring the jars indoors and place them in a bright place (for example on a window sill). We look for a place that is bright enough but that avoids prolonged contact of direct sunlight with the seedlings.
- We change the water in the jar every day and we will see that after a week or ten days the first small roots will form from our twigs. The roots are very delicate, therefore, once they are formed, handle the twigs with care when changing the water.
When the roots are long enough (2-3 cm) we can move on to the pot planting phase:
- Let's initially equip ourselves with small jars (preferably in terracotta which is a transpiring material) with the respective saucers, having the intention of burying a single sprig in each jar. The choice of placing each sprig in a jar is subjective, but it must be considered that if more sprigs were to be successful and become seedlings, then it would be more difficult to extract them from the same small vase to divide them.
- We place terracotta "shards" in correspondence with the holes inside each jar, that is, pieces of broken terracotta vases that have the purpose of better draining the water, then we fill more or less half of the jar with soil.
- We plant our sprig for 5-6 cm and add more soil to fill the pot. We make a very light pressure with our fingers on the soil to fix it but without exaggerating as a soil that is too compressed could both damage the plant and hinder the passage of water.
- At this point, let's cut the apex of the branch a little so that the energy of the plant can concentrate more on the development of its root system.
- We place the pots outdoors (for example on the balcony) and water our seedlings abundantly a couple of times. In doing so, the well-moistened soil will tend to stick better to the small roots of the twig.
In the early days it is advisable to water more frequently trying to keep the soil always moist but never full of water to prevent the roots from rotting.
After about a month, we will be able to realize if our twigs have managed to become healthy independent seedlings and after about a year, if we see that the pot is now small for our plant, then we can think of repotting it in a larger pot where it will be free to grow and reinvigorate itself.