The Q&A Archives: Planting Rooted Cuttings

Question: I have (several times) taken cuttings from both a pussy willow and a grape leaf hydrangea in my yard and rooted them indoors. After they have substantial roots (well grown and long), I plant them in a standard houseplant soil medium, put them in a sunnylocation (in separate pots), and treat them like my normal house plants - water once a week, liquid fertilizer once or twice a month. They always die. The leaves fall off and they turn into a "stick-in-a-pot". What am I doing wrong?

Answer: This is one of my favorite are trying too hard. It is very easy to propagate either the hydrangea or the willow with a simple and very successful process called layering - here is how you do it: In the fall, take a long, flexible limb (one that will easily reach the ground without breaking), and notch an area of the stem with a sharp knife. Dust the notch with a rooting stimulation hormone such as Rootone, dig out a small area of soil, placed notched area of the limb (dust side down) into the small hole, and cover with soil, securing the limb to ground either with a small stone or a floral pick. In the spring, separate this limb from the mother plant. There should be a new rootball at the area at which you made that original notch. Replant the "baby" wherever you like. Provide it with rich soil in full sun, and keep it well-watered until it gets established.

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