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Taking cuttings from delphiniums by taking basal cutting

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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Delphiniums are a traditional perennial for any cottage garden and add a bit bit of height to your borders and produce some arguably some of the most stunning flowers of any perennial. If you already have stunning plants growing in your beds and borders, you can take cutting using a method known as basal cuttings to propagate new plants and it’s also super easy to do and rewarding. 

When to take basal cuttings

You want to take your cuttings from existing plants, specifically from strong shoots that appear right at the start of spring. These should be cuttings that come from the base of the plant, hence their name basal cutting. 

How to take basal cutting from delphiniums

Step 1

The new shoots you select should be approximately 8-10cm long, sometimes longer and they should be nice stubby little shoots, if they’re a little on the tall side, cut the tips of the cutting to reduce the size. You want to remove them with a knife by making a clean cut directly through the base tissue and try and get as close to the roots as possible so you really need to get deep down into the base.

Step 2

Once that is done make a straight cut underneath the leaf joint at the top of the cutting and remove any leaves up the stem so that you have nothing left but a bare stem, this way it will concentrate on rooting rather than trying to produce top growth.

Step 3

Take the cutting and dip the bottom into hormone rooting powder which is available from most garden centres and nurseries to help encourage a better root system and prevent rot. We prefer using the powder form of rooting powder but you can also get it in gel form. Some gardeners also successfully root cutting without using any rooting hormone too.

Step 4

Put several cuttings around the perimeter of a container that you fill with good gritty compost, seed and cutting compost is ideal but if you have any multi-purpose this will do the trick mixed with plenty of grit. Plant the cutting as deep as possible but still leaving the top growth sticking up out of the soil. I tend to plant 3 cutting in a 5-inch pot which gives them plenty of place.

Use different pots for different varieties to make remember what varieties and colours they are easier

Remember that if you have several varieties of cuttings you should label them properly. No matter how hard I seem to try you I never remember which was which, later.

Step 5

Now that this is done, water your cuttings in the container and place the container in a windowsill propagator, or cover it with a plastic bag and water well. There are fully enclosed propagators you can choose for this purpose but if you don’t feel like investing in something for regular use, you can cover any container with plastic and secure it in place with string or a rubber band, it’s also worth butting a couple of canes in the pot to help stop the plastic touching the cutting. Some times it can be worth noting covering the cutting at all but we recommend spraying occasional with water if you take this route.

Step 6

Finally, leave them in a warm area with access to indirect sunlight for a few weeks, until such time as you notice roots. Keep them moist but not wet to avoid rotting them off.

Propagating delphiniums

Potting on rooted cutting and regular maintenance

Once you notice roots have appeared at the bottom of your pot its time to plant or consider growing on in a large pot. Carefully remove from the pot and gently tease your cuttings apart trying to maintain as much compost as you can around the roots.

When you are ready, put each of your rooted cuttings into individual pots until such time as they are strong enough to go out into your garden. It can sometimes be worthwhile putting two or three cutting in a single pot so they make more of an impact.


You can use this basal cutting technique on more than just your delphiniums. In fact, you can use it on other perennials in your garden like Lupins that grow in a very similar fashion.

Check out our other guide on taking basal cutting in this article

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Recommended varieties:

When you set out upon this endeavour there are many varieties to try but below are our top five favourite varieties that are easy to grow:

  1.  For dark blue, you can choose the Delphinium ‘Black Knight’.
  2.  If you want a sky blue colour, the Delphinium ‘Summer Skies’ is a good variety and a favourite for many.
  3.  For those who want a violet-blue shade, the Delphinium ‘King Arthur’ is great and is arguably one of the most popular varieties.
  4.  If you want a lilac pink colour, the Delphinium’ Astolat’ is recommended and well worth growing.
  5.  Finally, if you prefer white, you can pick the delphinium ‘Galahad’, no garden would be complete without some white added as a nice backdrop.

Last update on 2021-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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