How To Propagate Clematis From Cuttings

Most of the time when you purchase a clematis, you have purchased an already established plant that has good root and leaf structure. However, you could also try propagating clematis with cuttings. Let’s look at how to propagate clematis from cuttings.

How to Propagate Clematis from Cuttings

The best way to grow clematis is from clematis cuttings. Cuttings are the easiest way to perform clematis propagation.

Start propagating clematis by taking clematis cuttings for clematis propagation from your healthy clematis in early summer. You will want to take half green wood cuttings; in other words, cuttings that have just started to become hard (brown) wood. Treat them with a special rooting hormone to help them root and place the clematis cuttings in sterile soil.

Be aware, when you purchase your roots at the local garden center, you will find that they are usually grafted roots. This makes them stronger and helps them root easier. You can, however, still get good results from your own clematis cuttings.

The clematis cuttings may take anywhere from one to two months to take root. While they are rooting, keep the cuttings in high humidity and bright but indirect light.

Care for Clematis Cuttings After Rooting

Once the clematis is rooted, you will want to make sure to maintain soil contact around the roots. First be sure to amend the soil so that it will support the new clematis propagation. Then once fully rooted, cut the stems back to only 12 inches in height. This will help the plant branch out and climb up a trellis or fence. Put the crown a couple of inches below the soil surface so that it can be well prepared should it accidentally be cut back or mowed over.

Be sure you apply fertilizer annually. Rooted clematis cuttings also love rotted manure. Manure makes them healthy and happy. You can use this as mulch if you want. The vines of your clematis need a lot of sunlight but the roots need to stay in the cool, damp soil.

Propagating clematis is done easily enough and before you know it, you could have several different clematis plants growing throughout your property. Clematis propagation is easy enough and you end up with flowers and plenty of new plants each season.

Dividing Clematis

Dividing clematis is one form of propagation of the plant. Dividing clematis consists of taking one plant that has grown well, and dividing it at the roots into two or more plants. These plants can then be transplanted to different areas of the garden to spread beauty elsewhere. When dividing clematis plants, it is important to know what species the clematis is. Different clematis will bloom at different times, and thus division must be done at different times as well. Dividing clematis at the wrong time will hinder new season growth, limit blooms and has the possibility of even killing the plant.

Observation of the growth cycle for a few seasons is the best way to determine when division should occur. The best time to divide clematis is just before new growth will appear, and after the plant emerges from dormancy. When this time is reached, often in late February or March, the plant should be dug up and dirt should be cleared away from the root system.

Many clematis plants are climbers, and will be stuck to a fence or other such medium. It is best to simply cut the plant off, leaving at least three to four good buds per stem. Once the stems have been trimmed, the jumble of roots should be divided and each plant made should have an even amount of root. Now, take the separate plants and transplant them into the garden wherever desired. Ensure that the plant will get lots of full sun and water. It is best to plant the newly divided plants deeply into the soil, to give the weakened roots more protection from drought.

Clematis are one of the most popular climbing plants in our gardens and their flowers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from small bell-shaped to large blousy blooms. By planting a selection of different species and varieties, it’s possible to have them in flower for most of the year, including the winter months.

Most types can be propagated by cuttings taken at this time of the year. Unlike a conventional cutting that’s taken using the tip of the stem, with clematis several cuttings can be made from one of the long stems, and instead of trimming the cutting below a leaf joint or node, we make the cut between the node to produce what is known as an inter-nodal cutting.

Preparing the cuttings is very simple and all you do is trim immediately above a pair of leaves and then approximately 2.5-5cm (1-2in) below. It’s the stem below the leaves and buds that’s inserted into the compost to root and once roots have developed, the two buds at the top will grow to form a new plant.

In order for the cuttings to root, they need to be kept moist and in humid conditions to prevent the foliage from drying out. A small propagator stood in a shady part of the greenhouse is ideal for this.

Ivy Plant Propagation: Best Way To Root An Ivy Cutting

English ivy is a classic addition to any home, whether you grow it to cover a brick wall or plant it as an indoor vine as part of your room decor. Buying a lot of ivy for large plantings can be an expensive proposition, but you can get a large batch for free by rooting ivy plants in your home. Propagating English ivy (and most other types too) is a simple procedure than anyone can do with a few basic tools. Let’s learn more about the best way to root an ivy cutting.

Ivy Plant Propagation

Ivy plants are made of long trailing vines with multiple leaves growing along their lengths. Vines such as these are simple to cut and root, as long as you use the right cutting methods. One vine can be cut into multiple pieces and grown into new plants, turning one plant into a dozen.

The secret to rooting ivy vines is in the cutting and care you give them during the rooting process. Propagating English ivy and related species can be accomplished in either water or soil.

How to Propagate Ivy

Cut a length of ivy vine up to 4 feet long. Use a clean pair of shears or a sharp knife. Cut the vine into multiple pieces, with each piece having one or two leaves. Make each cut directly above a leaf, and trim the stem below the leaf to about one inch.

Dip the end of each stem in rooting hormone powder. Fill a planter with sand (or a sand/soil mix) and poke holes in the sand for planting. Plant each powdered stem in a hole and then gently push the sand around the stem.

Water the sand well and place the planter in a plastic bag to help retain moisture. Open the bag once a week to water when needed to keep it moist. The ivy twigs will begin to sprout and be ready to replant in a permanent location within six to eight weeks.

Ivy plants are also easy to root in water. Trim off any bottom leaves and place your cutting in a jar on a well-lit window sill. In a few weeks, you should start to see roots growing in the water. While rooting ivy plants in water is easy, it is always better for the plant when rooted in a solid planting medium, as transplanting water-rooted cuttings to the soil is more difficult and survival rates are lower. Therefore, the best way to too an ivy cutting is in sandy soil rather than water.

Leaf cuttings

Plants with large leaves, especially indoor pot plants, are often grown from leaf cuttings.

There are several different types of leaf cutting. Which type is chosen to use as a propagation method depends on the type and amount of plant material available.

Leaf bud cuttings

Use this method when there is a shortage of propagating material, as these cuttings can give one and perhaps two plants from each node.

These plants are suitable for this method of propagation: raspberry, lemon, blackberry, camellia, boysenberry, rhododendron, and rubber tree.

Leaf bud cutting.

These consist of the leaf blade, petiole and a short piece of stem. There is a bud between the petiole and the stem.

Two leaf bud cuttings from a stem with opposite leaves.

Two leaf bud cuttings from a stem with opposite leaves.

How to take a leaf bud cutting:

  • Choose a plant with well-developed buds.
  • Cut the stem into pieces so that each cutting has a short piece of stem, a leaf and a bud.
  • Split the stem in two if there are opposite leaves.
  • Dip the base of the cutting in rooting hormone powder or gel.
  • Plant it in the potting mix with the bud just below the surface.
  • Place them in a mist unit with bottom heat or in a plastic bag in a warm shady place.

A camellia leaf bud cutting.

Leaf petiole cuttings

The stems of some plants are too short to be used as cuttings. You can use their fleshy leaves for propagation. A number of houseplants can be grown this way.

Watch the section on leaf petiole and non-petiole cuttings on HT1021DV or the video clip below.

A petiole is a leaf stalk. You can grow African violets, gloxinias, peperomias and small-leafed begonias from leaf petiole cuttings.

How to take a leaf petiole cutting:

  • Choose a healthy leaf.
  • Cut off the leaf with about 2.5 cm of petiole.
  • Place the leaf in the potting mix at a slight angle, so the base of the leaf is clear of the surface.
  • Firm the mix gently round the cutting.
  • Label and water with a dilute solution of fungicide.
  • Place in a warm place. They are susceptible to disease so don’t place them in a mist unit.
  • Keep the media moist.

Non-petiole cuttings

Use this method for large-leafed plants with big veins, such as Begonia rex.

How to prepare non-petiole cuttings:

  • Take a healthy leaf.
  • Cut through some of the main veins on the underside of the leaf.
  • Place the leaf on the surface of the mix with the top of the leaf facing upwards.
  • Hold the leaf down on the mix using some small pebbles or toothpicks. Plantlets will develop where the veins are cut.
  • Cut the new plantlets away from the old leaf once the buds have formed shoots.
  • Pot them on. These cuttings require high humidity and bottom heat.

Leaf portions

Use this method for Sansevieria, Begonia rex and Streptocarpus.

Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue)

How to prepare leaf portions:

  • Take a healthy leaf. Cut the leaf into sections, each with a main vein.
  • Keep the sections in order so you know which is the top of the cutting and which is the bottom. They won’t grow if you get them the wrong way up.
  • Plant the lower end of each section about 10 mm in the media.
  • Place in a warm humid environment.
  • Roots develop on the base of the cuttings, and then buds form.
  • Pot up the new plantlets.

These begonia plantlets grown from leaf portions are ready for potting up

Key points

Leaf cuttings

Type Petiole Non-petiole Portion Bud
Plant example African violet
Begonia rex Streptocarpus
mother-in-law’s tongue
rubber trees
lemon tree
Structure used Leaf with stalk from fleshy leaved plants with short stems Large leaf with large veins. Plantlets develop where the veins are cut Leaf sections Leaf, petiole and short piece of stem with a bud with the bud in the leaf axil
Best conditions Humid, warm conditions can be taken any time if the cutting is put into a controlled environment Humid,
warm in early summer

What’s next?

Go to: 7 Root cuttings.

How to take cuttings

Be kind to your cuttings

All cuttings need to go directly to an environment with 100% humidity after being cut. If the cuttings dry out, they will not do well. Keep them dark, cool and moist. If you are working in large areas, use wet cheesecloth or burlap to wrap the cuttings as you go along. Should we allow the cuts to dry out a little before sticking them in medium?
No – while herbaceous cuttings are less likely to rot, they also root faster than woody plants because they contain less lignin in their stems. Don’t give them time to dry out. Process them soon as possible to keep the auxins flowing down the stem since they need to work at the bottom. A word of caution here – if you, the grower, use a rooting chamber that sprays a mist onto the cutting stems but does not include top humidity control, it might be advisable to cut the cutting stems at an angle to allow for water penetration, since these propagation units depend on this to regulate the supply of water to a cutting.

Rooting medium

The media for rooting should be similar to the medium that will be used for growing the cuttings in later: use an inorganic medium for inorganic systems, and an organic medium for organic systems. You must match the properties. Plants develop new roots with characteristics suited to the particular medium and the subsequent job they must do. If you are growing in soil or in a soilless mix, it makes little sense to induce roots on a cutting by using a water-based rooting system. Otherwise, the plant will have to devote time and energy to converting those roots to roots that will work in the new environment, where water is scarcer than minerals. If you intend to grow your cuttings in clay pebbles, then root them in water, rock wool, or floral blocks. This will insure root compatibility from the start. Avoid sticking the cuttings in too deep – while tomatoes can handle being transplanted deep, most plants cannot. For plants that root at the node – bury the node, for plants that don’t root at the node – leave the node above the medium.

Finally, make sure you water the cuttings when you’ve finished. This ensures a seal develops on the stem and settles the cutting into place.

Perfect growing conditions for cuttings

Now what’s the next step? Let’s see, we fed the stock plant, took the cuttings, transferred the cuttings into a suitable medium… now we need get them under 100% humidity. This can be achieved with a dome or a mist system. Some plants are not particular and can withstand drier conditions (e.g. cacti or succulents), others will benefit from this approach. Humidity reduces the water use and supplies water to the growing plant.

Humidity is essential to keep the leaf turgid, the systems functioning, and the processes processing. Keeping the lights at a lower intensity will enhance rooting while decreasing leaf function to survival levels. It will slow transpiration while the necessary components are used at the root sites to build a new root structure. Keep the atmosphere around the cutting warm (not hot), keep the humidity relatively high (>90%), and keep the root zone temperature warm (at about 25°C).

Maintain this humidity until you can see callus tissue or root initials (the first signs of root development) then you can allow the cuttings to grow at below 90% humidity but above 80% humidity in order to encourage root growth. When you can see roots in the surrounding medium, it is time to reduce to 80% humidity and stop spraying water on the leaves in order to limit risk of disease.

When the roots reach the outside of the root cube or pot, transplant them.

When to transplant cuttings?

The timing here is important. If you wait until the roots have grown into a root ball, the roots will be old, ‘pot-tight’, and likely to grow on with less branching. Don’t wait until the roots have grown too much. Do not apply stimulants (hormones) until the cuttings are transplanted. If you are rooting your cuttings into a medium, then use stimulants as soon as you notice the roots (some stimulants can be supplied through the leaf earlier). A word of caution: never transplant freshly rooted cuttings into a container that is too large, use an intermediate size. For instance, do not transplant a 1 inch cube with a rooted cutting into a 20 litre container, use an intermediate size such as a 4 inch for root formation. The plant won’t suffer and there is less risk of it being over-watered.

A critical point to make at this juncture: roots require 100% humidity to avoid damage. The longer the root tips are exposed to air, the greater the damage that is done. Minimise their exposure time to the air. Do not harvest hundreds of plugs in the morning then wait until the afternoon to plant them. Only harvest, or remove from the starter trays exposing the roots, enough material that you can deal with in 15 minutes. Once planted in the medium, always water your transplants in, with or without feed, depending on the medium and always adjusted to the bare minimum needed.

Transplanting cuttings: best practice

A cutting that is being transplanted the first time should not be forced to swim in a huge pot that contains an ocean of media. It is not wise to place a 4-inch cutting directly into a 20 litre container, as it is not efficient use of space and it is difficult to keep the climate under control in such a large container.

Transplant it into a smaller container first and allow it to gain root volume, then transfer it into a larger container. The same rules apply for roots, once the roots are loose and growing as far as the outside of the root ball in good numbers, move the plant up to a larger container. This will make it easier to keep water levels constant, avoid over-watering, ensure adequate nutrient availability, and make harvesting easier.

The timing and amount of fertiliser to apply will depend on the medium you are using. If you add fertiliser to a medium such as soil or peat, then a large proportion of it will adhere to the particles either directly or through bind sites. If there is not enough plant material to use these nutrients, they will remain in the medium and can ultimately lead to high salt levels later on.

So, feed new cuttings and plants lightly and increase the amount of fertiliser you give to your young plants in proportion to the rate of root growth. Foliar feeds can be applied to leaf surfaces but in light amounts. Beware that nitrogen and some other elements have a tendency to leach out of leaves under a mist system. Usually, a light amount of foliar feeding* is recommended where roots form in less then five days. The root system is considered to be the best way to feed the plant and this holds true throughout the plant’s life.

If a plant requires foliar applications there is usually a problem elsewhere in the plant that should be addressed. Taking cuttings is straightforward when done correctly and when the grower is familiar with the plant species. Some plants don’t propagate well at all. Some take weeks to grow new roots, some start growing new roots while still on the stock plant. You need to know what is possible with the plant you have chosen so you know what to expect. Remember, cutting any living plant has consequences, for both the cutting and for the stock plant. Follow these steps carefully, take care of the stock plant and cuttings and you will succeed!

*CANNA RHIZOTONIC is a popular product for use in foliar feeding. Sprayed on leaves of your cuttings it will speed up the rooting process, increase resistance against diseases, and it will improve the quality of the crop.


Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is not really a true ivy and is in same family as grape vines: Vitaceae. But it is able to grow up vertical surfaces with small tendrils equipped with adhesive pads and, like its relative Virginia creeper, turns red in the fall and is well loved as a deciduous, woody vine. Keep in mind that it will require annual pruning as it can be an aggressive growing vine.

Boston Ivy should root readily in water and you correctly removed bottom leaves to expose the nodes, from which, hopefully, roots will develop. But you may want to consider rooting your cutting in a pot, so you can employ a rooting hormone (powder, or gel) that will promote robust root growth, and deter fungus growth. Much like your vegetable seedlings, your cutting will need the proper medium, a good light source and moisture. Delicate roots, and root hairs, need room to develop, so use a soil-less mixture that will allow oxygen and water to permeate, but not compact, as potting soil tends to do. Consider using a cactus mixture, available in small bags. Or make your own blend, of 50/50 Perlite and peat moss. Whatever you use, you are aiming for a mixture that drains well, and will not get waterlogged. Place your cutting deeply into the mixture, so the nodes are covered. Water from the bottom, to encourage sturdy, deep, root growth. Next, you want to keep the humidity high until the roots start: mist frequently during the day, or place a clear plastic bag over the whole pot. Once the roots have established (take a peek from time to time), remove the plastic. Now, regarding light: until the root system is strong, your cutting will need to put the majority of its energy into growing roots, not the green leaves. So keeping the cutting under fluorescent light 24/7 will be counter-productive. Consider a day/night light schedule. Remember: most plant roots grow below ground surface, and do not require sunlight to develop. Allow the plant to populate the pot with roots before considering transplanting into a soil mixture. And take care to employ a gradual hardening-off of the newly-established plant before transplanting outdoors. All the very best with your first experiment with propagation from cuttings.

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