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Written by John James, posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2019

To me, one of the most rewarding things to do in gardening is to make more plants out of those you already have, and it always amazes me how you can take parts of a plant without roots, remove them, and, given the right treatment and conditions, get them to grow into new plants.

To illustrate the process I have taken pictures of the stages of taking cuttings of one of my favourite plants, Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’ (Mexican Bush Sage).

Images in the gallery below are numbered to match the steps given here:

(1) 2nd May. Cutting as taken from the mother plant.

(2) Cutting cut just below a node (leaf joint) and lower leaves removed to reduce transpiration and rotting. Traditionally the base of the cutting is dipped in rooting compound which contains a fungicide to prevent rotting and a hormone to encourage rooting, but this year we are trying a natural rooting powder which contains seaweed to encourage rooting.

(3) Cuttings inserted into a pot containing 50:50 potting compost and perlite, the perlite makes the compost more open and free draining which encourages rooting. Once the cuttings have been thoroughly watered they are placed in an enclosed propagator with bottom heat provided by heating cables buried in damp sand. These cuttings root really easily and do not need extra help from misting which keeps the plants and their surroundings constantly moist.

(4) 23rd May. The same pot of cuttings just 3 weeks later, the cuttings have rooted and are ready to be potted up having been weaned off the protection provided by the propagator.

(5) One of the cuttings taken out of the pot showing the amount of root growth.

(6) Cuttings potted up in a standard potting compost and placed out in the glasshouse ready to grow on before planting out. We try to use square pots wherever possible as they give a greater volume of compost for the plant compared to the equivalent sized round pot. We reuse the pots as many times as we can to reduce our use of plastics and are looking into practical, economical alternatives to using plastic.

(7 & 8) 11th June. The same tray of plants and a typical individual plant another two and a half weeks later ready for planting out. If anything these are a bit taller and leggier than I would like having established really quickly!

(9) Planted out by the side gate in the Masters Garden, watch out for a beautiful display of purple flowers in the autumn.