To obtain new plants to grow, you can generally start from the seed, but it is not the only possible way and in many cases it is more convenient to reproduce by cuttings.
The cutting is a vegetative multiplication technique with which we can get seedlings so faster than sowing. It involves cutting small portions from a chosen plant that we want to propagate, usually twigs, and putting them to root until they turn into autonomous plants.
Besides the speed, the cutting has another advantage: with this technique new specimens are obtained which are genetically identical to the mother plant, in practice it is a form of cloning. In the plant kingdom, agamic, or asexual, reproduction is very common and occurs in various ways in nature even without human intervention. With the cutting technique we exploit this possibility of plants to multiply the cultivated species without going through the seed.
This means that if the mother plant is of a variety that interests us the cutting is a sure way to preserve this variety, while in seed breeding, pollination comes into play, leading to crossings and producing a specimen with different characteristics.
How the cutting is done
To make a cutting you have to take twigs from the chosen plants, remove the basal leaves, and finally put them to root in small jars or other containers filled with soil and kept in a lighted place, which, depending on the season, will need to be sheltered or even outdoors.
The cut twigs do not usually have to be particularly long 10-15 cm at the most is more than enough, longer than the case of woody cuttings of plants such as fig and olive.
There are those who treat the twigs with rooting hormones to speed up the process and make it easier, but it is not necessary and in any case it is not a natural practice. The plants themselves develop hormones responsible for the emission of roots and over a period of time that depends on the species and the season, rooting is still witnessed.
However not necessarily all the twigs will take root and therefore it is advisable to root a greater number of them than is actually desired, so as to be able to obtain it anyway and perhaps even be able to choose the best plants.
When to take the cutting
The cuttings can be performed at different times, but avoiding midsummer and midsummer, i.e. the maximum hot and maximum cold periods.
For herbs such as sage, rosemary, lavender and other perennial herbs, the recommended time for removing the sprig is September. We cut branches of 10-15 cm, we put them to root in jars that should ideally be protected all winter in a greenhouse. We will have to keep an eye on that the soil is sufficiently moist, irrigating every now and then but without ever soaking the soil, otherwise there is a risk of rotting and dying of the seedlings.
In the following spring, if everything is handled carefully, the new seedlings are ready for transplantation and we will also understand this from the new sprouts issued.
For other species such as mint it is easily done in spring, with rooting that takes place in a few weeks.
The choice of the mother plant
The choice of the plant from which to take the twigs to multiply must be prudent, as, as anticipated, through the cutting, individuals genetically identical to this are obtained, and not only for the visual characteristics, but also for other important aspects such as resistance to stresses of various kinds, such as diseases and parasites, but also for the quality and quantity of production, in the case of fruiting.
Of course, it is not certain that the daughter plants over time will be identical in all respects to the mother plant, because the appearance, health and productivity of a species also affect a large number of other factors in addition to genetic characteristics: microclimate of the place where it is transplanted, any pruning, fertilization, irrigation, in short, everything that depends on both the pedoclimatic environment and our management.
Which plants multiply by cuttings
The cutting can be practiced for many fruit, ornamental and aromatic plants, and also for succulents.
We can therefore propagate aromatic species such as rosemary, sage, mint, lavender, bay leaf, thyme etc, but also countless ornamental shrubs including oleander, buddleia, forsythia, rose, bougainvillea, wisteria and many others.
On many fruit plants the matter is a bit more complicated because these plants are composed of a rootstock and the graft, that is the part that bears fruit, and consequently with the cutting we will have a unique individual who will have both the aerial part and the root part corresponding to the graft, and therefore will show itself different from the mother plant which instead has a root system of another type. But we can always graft this plant on a rootstock like that of the mother plant, alone or with the help of experts.
Types of cuttings
Depending on how they are performed and the herbaceous or woody nature of the parts put to root, there are different types of cuttings.
They are taken from herbaceous plants, as in the case of mint or lemon balm, but also from other ornamental species that do not lignify or that lignify little.
Woody or semi-woody cuttings
They are those taken from stems or branches, generally in autumn. For fig and olive tree lignified branches of 2 or 3 years can be taken, then there are partially lignified branches as in the case of rosemary, lavender and sage.
The cutting of tomato female
A kind of cutting that can be made in the summer garden is that of tomato, in the act of eliminating the female we can decide to use them to propagate new plants.
We know that these sissies can already be used for the preparation of an extract that removes parasites from cabbage in a completely ecological way, but it is also possible to use them to root them and make new tomato seedlings.