Cuttings taken from younger portions of plants root more readily than cuttings from older stems.

How to Make Herbaceous Stem Cuttings

by Angela Ryczkowski

Vegetative propagation creates new plants identical to a parent plant, so you can quickly multiply a prized landscape or houseplant. One way to practice vegetative propagation is by rooting small shoots cut from a parent plant. These herbaceous, or non-woody, cuttings are taken from young, succulent stems and tend to root most successfully if taken in spring when the plant is actively growing, although you may experience a high degree of success year-round, depending on the plant.

Fill a clean flat or other shallow container with plenty of drain holes up to about 1 inch below its lip with a commercially-available rooting medium. Alternatively, make your own rooting medium by combining approximately equal parts peat moss and perlite, sand or vermiculite. Mist or water the medium gently but thoroughly to encourage settling, stopping only when water begins to exit out of the container's drain holes.

Cut a section of stem 3 to 5 inches long from the tip of a young shoot on the parent plant. Make sure each cutting has at least two or three sets of leaves. Use a sharp knife to remove the cutting just below a node, where leaves or buds are growing out of the stem.

Clip all leaves or modified leaf structures, like tendrils or bracts, off of the bottom one-third to one-half of each cutting.

Insert each cutting into the medium, pushing it in deep enough so its lowest remaining leaves are just above the medium surface. Space the cuttings far enough apart so that the leaves of different cuttings don't touch.

Mist the medium and cuttings well immediately after you insert the cuttings to encourage the medium to settle around the cuttings and minimize the cuttings' water loss. Mist the cuttings and medium as needed throughout the rooting process so the medium is never allowed to dry out.

Cover the cuttings' container with a glass or plastic lid or enclose it in a plastic bag, if desired, to maintain high relative humidity around the cuttings and minimize the need for misting.

Set the cuttings in an area with bright, indirect light a temperature between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage rapid root formation.

Check the cuttings for roots beginning after a few weeks. Insert a blunt object or a few fingers under a cutting and lift it out gently to look for emerging roots. Once cuttings have several inch-long roots you can transplant them into individual containers with well-drained potting soil.

Items you will need

  • Container with drain holes
  • Rooting medium
  • Spray bottle with misting nozzle
  • Sharp, clean knife
  • Sharp scissors
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • Plastic or glass lid or plastic bag (optional)
  • Blunt object


  • Dipping the end of a cutting in a rooting hormone powder before inserting it into the medium encourages more uniform root formation.


  • Only take herbaceous cuttings from healthy, disease-free parent plants.

About the Author

Angela Ryczkowski is a professional writer who has served as a greenhouse manager and certified wildland firefighter. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in urban and regional studies.

Photo Credits

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