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how do i take cuttings?

Stocks of favourite plants can be increased by taking cuttings from a tuber’s shoots. As with plants grown from tubers the result of a successful cutting is an exact clone of the original plant.

Varieties propagated by dividing tubers typically lose vigor over time, although many well-known varieties are still winning at shows decades after they were first bred. Propagation from cuttings is widely thought to slow this degradation. Some growers plant only cuttings taken from tubers which they then discard.

Moving tubers into a warm place August or September will stimulate shoots for cutting in October or November. Cuttings can be taken when shoots are about 10cm. Cut below a leaf node, leaving a node on the tuber so that more shoots will grow (the tuber can then be planted in the normal way to produce blooms that season). Use a sharp knife or flower snips - use bleach or some other disinfectant between tubers to avoid transferring viruses. Remove one or more pairs of the lower leaves.

Put the cuttings in a free draining growing medium such as a light potting soil or a mix of sand, perlite and coir and keep in a humid environment until they have rooted. Cuttings can be dipped in hormone rooting compounds but this is not essential - some growers use honey. Make sure to label the pots!

Multiple cuttings can be brought on in one pot or in a cheap growing kit like a mini-greenhouse. More simply, each cutting can be put in its own pot and protected with an upside down sawn-off plastic bottle. Ensure the humidity is maintained – fogging is a good indicator.

After three or four weeks the cuttings should have developed roots and can be planted out (protect from snails and slugs).  They will produce flowers in their first year. Alternatively, the plants can be potted up to make pot tubers for planting in the following season.

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