The Q&A Archives: Propagating Shrubs

Question: I have several lovely weigela shrubs and would like to know how to take cuttings?

Answer: You can do this by either layering or by cuttings. To layer, simply bend a branch down to the ground so that the branch makes a U shape. Wound the underside a bit where it touches the soil, dig a little hole and bury it. (Make sure the tip end is not buried.) Weight it down with a rock so it stays in steady contact underground. Mulch lightly
and water the spot in times of drought. By next spring or so it will have rooted and can be separated from the mother shrub. I prefer this method at home because it is so easy.

Tip cuttings root quite easily, too, and can be the better choice if you want a lot of new shrubs at a time. Basically you will take four to six inch pieces from branch tips in mid spring. Cut just below a leaf node, then remove the leaves from the bottom two thirds of the cutting. Some gardeners will use a rooting hormone at this point but it
is not strictly necessary. Set each piece firmly upright into a dampened mixture of vermiculite, perlite, or peat moss and sand, leaving only the section with leaves exposed. You can fit several into each pot as long as they do not touch. Water to settle out air pockets, cover the container with a clear plastic bag to maintain humidity and set it in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. (Direct sun will overheat the enclosed container.) A little bottom heat can be helpful. If excessive condensation appears on the bag, open it occasionally to allow some evaporation. After a few weeks, check gingerly for roots. It may take weeks or months, so be patient. When the roots appear, remove the cover, transplant them into individual pots and move them to a brighter yet sheltered location. Eventually you will be able to plant them in a nursery bed to grow on until they are large enough to set in their permanent locations.

Good luck with your propagation!

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