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Mahonia is a very strong evergreen shrub that brings with it bright yellow flowers and shiny green foliage in the winter. During the summer it produces bright blue berries for birds which come after the bright yellow flowers they are renowned for. So if you have a beautiful Mahonia shrub that has brought with it a great deal of colour and texture to your garden you can take stem cuttings from your bush and propagate more plants successfully.
When to take Mahonia cutting
With Mahonia, it’s best that you propagate by taking cuttings around March.
When you take your cuttings make sure you prepare by sanitizing the tools you are going to use. If you are taking multiple cuttings you will want to sanitize in between each cutting. This can be done through a lot of ways including commercial products or natural household cleaners like a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Many gardeners who take multiple cuttings like to use one time use alcohol wipes because they can easily clean their tools in between each cutting. Make sure you also sharpen your tools whatever they may be so that you can make a clean and fast cut without further damaging your plant. Remember that each cut leaves at susceptible to infection just the same as any cuts you receive leave you susceptible to infection.
How to take the cutting
You want to take a young, tender stem that is no more than one year old. You should always make your cut just below a leaf node for the bottom of the cutting and take a cut that spans between 8 and 25cm in length.
Next, you want to cut the cutting just above a leaf joint to form the top of the cutting because there will be a small bud in the leaf join that will form the next plant. If the top leaf is very large as is usually the case with mahonias if will probably be top-heavy and fall over, a little trick is to roll the leaf up and they put a rubber band around it. We don’t want to remove the leaf as it will feed the cutting whilst taking root.
Always take more cutting than you need
It’s always best to take more cuttings and you think you’re going to need simply because they don’t always all survive. It’ll be a much better investment of your time and energy if you take four or five cuttings at once just to propagate one mahonia vs taking just one cutting and having that single cutting fail.
How to insert the Cuttings
You should plan on immediately transplanting the cutting into its container rather than taking the cutting and waiting for a few days. You can prepare the containers before you step outside to take your cuttings. You should always plant at least 1/2 of the stem into the potting mixture, maybe one-third only after you have dipped the end into rooting hormone. Rooting hormone will go a long way toward protecting the plant against fungal disease and helping it to establish a healthy and fast rooting system.
Ideally, you want to push the cutting right down so that that top lead and join is just above the soil level. This will ensure you get a nice stocky plant that grows from ground level and not a long stem.
Once you have your cuttings it’s important that you fill the appropriately sized container with compost mixed with a little grit to help with drainage, specifically potting compost, and then dip the bottom of each cutting into rooting hormone powder before placing it in the container. The rooting hormone powder not only helps expedite the growth of the routing system for your plant but it had some extra protection against fungal diseases which are very common during the propagation process.
There are many different options for plants and containers when you are propagating from cuttings. For example, you can invest in a full system, a kit that has a tray and perfectly fitted containers with tops. These tops are plastic lids that come off and then secure in place with ventilation caps on the top so you can control the amount of airflow. The whole idea is to make a miniature greenhouse. You can always recreate these conditions yourself using materials you might have at home such as regular pots with plastic cups on top or a plastic Ziploc bag. If you’re going to use something like a bag you want to add things like Chopsticks or pencils along the perimeter of the pot to create a tent so that the plastic material does not actually touch the cutting.
it’s worth noting that you can be fairly successful by using some old pots filled with compost mixed with grit and leaving them outside and checking the soil is kept moist if you don’t want to invest in propagating systems.
When everything is in its proper container, you want to keep it in an area that is warm with a lot of light but not direct sunlight. You also want to keep it well watered but avoid over-watering as this is what causes fungus.