General gardening topics

How to take basal cuttings from perennials

Last updated on March 16th, 2022

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If you have a perennial that you love you have probably found that they cannot be divided because they usually have a very firm, impenetrable crown. If that’s the case you still have an option for propagating by way of taking basal cuttings. Basal cuttings can be taken from a perennial if it creates multiple stems out of its single crown. Doing this is significantly faster than growing a new plant from seed and you don’t have to uproot your entire clump to get the cutting you need.

When to take Basal Cuttings

You want to take your cuttings during the month of April. From July onwards you get all of the beautiful flowers and aromatic qualities of your plants but during April the shoots of the perennials will take root much more quickly because of their strength. If you wait too long they will end up hollow and this leaves them susceptible to root rot rather than the establishment of a root system.

When to take basal cutting - take basil cutting around April
Lupins are perfect for taking basal cuttings from

How to take Basal Cuttings

  • When you are ready to take your cuttings, look for strong shoots that are growing out of the base of your plant and are at least 10cm in length.
  • It may be easier for you to get a better view if you clear away some of the soil while you are preparing to make your cut.
  • You want to take a very sharp knife that has been sanitised and use it to sever shoots away from the plant. During this phase, you want to be extremely careful so that you cut right down to the crown without damaging the crown. It is for this reason that it’s recommended you clear away some of the soil so that you get a perfect view.
  • It is important to make sure that the growth of stems you are cutting are solid because eventually they become hollow, and if you take cuttings that are hollow and try to propagate the roots will not establish in the plant will instead rot.
  • When you have your cuttings ready, fill pots that are 12cm with compost and evenly space 5 cuttings around the perimeter of that pot. When you root from basal cuttings, they need a lot of oxygen so you don’t want to use plastic pots like you would when propagating other plants but rather, clay pots. Clay is very porous and will not only provide better oxygen to the root system but it will allow extra water to drain away easily. This helps to protect your plant against root rot.
  • To expedite the propagation you can put heat at the bottom of the containers by way of a propagation mat or some other form of heat.
  • As you propagate from the basal cuttings, within a few weeks you should start to see roots emerging through the drainage holes inside your containers. As soon as you see roots coming through the bottom it means they have lengthened sufficiently and you need to transplant the cuttings. You started with about 5 per container and now it’s time to give them each their own container. At this point you can harden off the plants once they are ready, sticking them outside for a few minutes each day and growing to an hour a day and longer until they can be moved into their permanent position.

Examples of Plants you can Take Basal Cuttings From

Lamium orvala – ideal for taking basal cuttings from

You can take cuttings from things like Delphiniums or Lupins, even plants like Lamium orvala and the Campanula latifolia ‘Gloaming’.

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