General gardening topics

How to take basal cuttings from perennials

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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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 your perennial 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 cutting

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

You want to take your cuttings during April. from July onward you get all of the beautiful flowers and aromatic qualities of your plans 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 which leaves them susceptible to root rot rather than the establishment of a root system.

How to take basal cuttings

  • When you are ready to take your cutting, look for strong shoots that are growing out of the base of your plant at least 10 cm 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 sanitized and use it to sever chutes away from the plant. During this phase, you want to be extremely careful so that you cut right down to the crown without hurting 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 or solid. 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 12 centimetres with compost and evenly spaced 5 cuttings around the perimeter of that pot. When you root from basal cut it, they need a lot of oxygen so you don’t want to use plastic pots like you would propagate from other plants but rather, clay pots. Clay is very porous so it 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 other form of heat.
  • As you propagate from the basal cutting 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 that means they have lengthened sufficiently and you have 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 juncture 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 home.

Examples of plants you can take basal cuttings from

Lamium orvala – ideal for taking basil cutting from

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

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