Many common garden plants root easily from cuttings, giving you full-grown plants in half the time it takes to start from seed.
There are several types of cuttings you can use to propagate your plants. These cuttings use different kinds of stems. Happily, you can treat them pretty much the same way.
Softwood cuttings are from fresh, new growth, usually in spring or early summer. Plants such as butterfly bush and dogwoods root well from softwood cuttings.
Greenwood cuttings are from young stems that are starting to mature, but still in the first year. They're usually taken in early to midsummer. Plants such as gardenia and boxwood tend to root well from greenwood cuttings.
Semi-ripe cuttings are tougher and more mature. They're usually taken from midsummer to fall. Plants such as camellia and honeysuckle often root well from semi-ripe cuttings.
Hardwood cuttings are taken from woody stems that have gone dormant in late fall or winter. Trees and shrubs such as mock orange and viburnum often root well from hardwood cuttings.
To make your cuttings, select healthy growth that's 3 to 6 inches long. Try to make a sharp cut; mashing the stems may make it more difficult for the shoots to develop new roots.
Clip off the leaves on the lower half of the shoot so you have a bare stem to insert into your potting mix. Then, if you want, dip the end of your stem in rooting hormone. This helps many cuttings root more quickly.
Immediately pot up your cutting in moist potting mix, sand, perlite, or vermiculite. Keep your cutting humid by loosely wrapping it in clear plastic or keeping it under a cloche.
Some plants root more quickly than others, so be patient. On average, it takes a month or two for your cuttings to root and become established enough that you can plant them.
Some plants root so easily that you can start them in a glass or jar of water. Examples include:
African violet (Saintpaulia)