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Taking cuttings from Delphiniums by taking a basal cutting

Last updated on March 28th, 2022

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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 arguably some of the most stunning flowers of any perennial. If you already have these beautiful plants growing in your beds and borders, you can take cutting using a method known as basal cuttings to propagate new plants. You will be pleased to know it’s also super easy to do, and rewarding. 

When should you 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 a basal cutting from a Delphinium

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 are 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 to 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 their cuttings without actually 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 multi-purpose this will do the trick mixed with plenty of grit. Plant the cuttings as deep as possible but still leave the top growth sticking up out of the soil. I tend to plant 3 cuttings in a 5-inch pot which gives them plenty of space.

Top Tip! Use different pots for different varieties so you can remember what varieties and colours they are easily

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

Step 5

Now that this is done, water your cuttings and place the container on a windowsill in a propagator, or cover it with a plastic bag and water well. There are fully enclosed propagators you can choose for this purpose, however, 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 putting a couple of canes in the pot to help prevent the plastic from touching the cuttings. Sometimes it can be worth not covering the cuttings at all and we recommend spraying occasionally 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 you notice roots beginning to make an appearance. Keep them moist but not too wet to avoid rotting them off.

Propagating delphiniums

Potting on rooted cuttings and regular maintenance

Once you notice roots have appeared at the bottom of your pot it’s time to plant or consider growing on in a larger pot. Carefully remove your cuttings 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 they are strong enough to go out into your garden. It can sometimes be worthwhile putting two or three cuttings in a single pot so they make more of an impact.

Tip: 

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 detailed guide on taking basal cuttings 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 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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