Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant

Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant: Cuttings are a method of vegetative propagation that allows the birth of a new plant from a fragment (twig, leaf, root, stem, bulb scale) taken from a mother plant. 

Relatively easy to perform, the technique does not always achieve the desired result. To increase your chances of success, here are the mistakes to avoid when cutting a plant.

Cutting plants that are not suitable for it

Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant

Although many plants can be taken from cuttings, not all are suitable for this method of propagation.

For example, monocots generally take cuttings less well than dicots. Likewise, woody species take cuttings much more easily than herbaceous ones (although many herbaceous species can be taken from cuttings).

Cutting a plant anytime

Ignoring the schedule is a common mistake when cutting a plant. However, not all plants take cuttings at the same time:

  • herbaceous cuttings are made between May and June
  • semi-woody cuttings are taken between July and September
  • hardwood cuttings occur from November to February
  • root cuttings are taken when the plant is dormant
  • Leaf cuttings can be made all year round, preferably in spring and early summer [Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant]

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Using inappropriate tools for cuttings

Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant

The success of cutting a plant also depends on the tools used. To start, use perfectly clean tools and sharpen them so that they are very sharp.

The right cutting tools included:

  • pruning shears or grafters
  • a sprayer and a fogger
  • cutting hormones
  • a container adapted to the technique used (frames, terrines, mini-greenhouses, terracotta pots, buckets).

Select any part of the plant

A cutting can be made from stems, leaves or roots. Everything here depends on the plant you want to propagate by cuttings.

In all cases, choose stems, leaves or roots without any trace of disease. If it is a stem cutting, be careful that it does not bear flower buds, flowers or fruit. Otherwise, you will have to remove them. [Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant]

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Take one cutting at a time

Although cutting is quite easy to succeed, it happens that some cuttings do not take.

To ensure your success, always take several stems, leaves or roots from the mother plant. By multiplying the cuttings in this way, you increase your chances that one of them will succeed.

Making a bad cut

The way the cutting is cut significantly impacts its success.

  • The cut of the stem must be clean and made at an angle, from bottom to top. Take a 10 to 15 cm stem just under a leaf, node or bud.
  • The root taken must measure between 5 and 12 cm. Cut straight on the side near the stump and at an angle on the other end.

Do not remove leaves on a stem cutting

If you take a stem or branch cutting, it is important to remove all the lower leaves. Only the leaves installed on the upper part of the stem are preserved. Also remember to remove the lower thorns if the stem has them.

This way, your cutting focuses all its energy on producing new roots, rather than feeding its leaves. [Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant]

Opting for the wrong cutting technique

Although the technique is very tempting due to its great simplicity, cuttings in water are not suitable for all plants:

  • most stemmed houseplants can be taken from cuttings in water or soil;
  • Outdoor plants, succulents and cacti are taken from cuttings in the ground, never in water.

Forgetting your cuttings in water for too long

Cutting in water allows you to obtain new roots very quickly. Although the method is quite easy, you must make sure to change the water regularly (you can place a piece of charcoal in it).

But above all, do not leave your cuttings in water for too long, otherwise they will no longer be able to get used to the soil. Also, report them as soon as the first roots appear.

Using unsuitable potting soil

Have you opted for cuttings in the ground? Be careful to use a good quality substrate, both light and draining, otherwise your cutting is likely to never take.

You can use a mixture here:

  • good loam and sand,
  • or potting soil and perlite.

Forgetting to water your cuttings or overwater them

Once your cuttings are placed in the ground, be sure to keep their substrate slightly moist, without ever making it soggy.

Note that excess water is often characterized by leaves stained yellow or brown. It even happens that they soften and end up falling. [Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant]

Not providing enough light to your cuttings

Lack of light can be fatal to your cuttings, regardless of the cutting technique used. Some plants can tolerate low light, but none of them survive in the complete absence of light

Therefore, always install your cuttings in a space with good natural light.

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Place your cuttings stewed in direct sun

Certainly, light is essential for your cuttings. However, they should not be exposed to the hot sun! Particularly if you make a stewed cutting.

Avoid placing your cuttings directly against the window or in direct sunlight outside. Rays of light should never directly hit your smothered cuttings, otherwise they will overheat and die.


Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting a Plant Avoiding common mistakes when cutting a plant always offers great rewards. With patience and care, your cuttings will soon grow into healthy, vigorous new plants. 

With a little practice, you will be able to successfully take cuttings from any plant.

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