The ‘ideal time’ to take hydrangea and lavender cuttings to ‘increase your stock’ for free

Cuttings can be taken from almost any established plant to create a fresh version of it, and there are several ways to do it. 

Not only will taking cuttings allow gardeners to produce several new plants from an existing one for free, but they are also a good way of propagating tender plants that might not survive a harsh winter. 

Two plants that gardeners may be intrigued to know when and how to take cuttings from are hydrangeas and lavender.

Before gardeners can learn how to take cuttings they need to know what time of year it is best to do so.

Gardening experts at Henry Street Garden Centre have shared when and how to take plant cuttings that should be followed for hydrangea and lavender plants.

They claimed that September/October is “the ideal time to take cuttings” from your favourite strains of tender perennials to “increase your stock for next spring or to make sure they live on if the parent plants do not survive the winter”. 

There are a large number of plants that can be propagated from cuttings. Some examples include pelargoniums, fuschias, begonia, hydrangea, boxwood, lavender, chrysanthemum and gardenia.

In order to take cutting from lavender and hydrangeas, gardeners will need a healthy mother plant from which to take the cuttings, clean sharp secateurs, a small plant pot or tray filled with compost and sharp sand, a polythene bag and a label and pencil with which to mark up the completed cuttings.

Begin by watering the compost so it is slightly damp. Cut off a fresh healthy, non-flowering side shoot from the mother plant just below the first set of leaves on that shoot. 

The experts urged: “Don’t take a long cutting – the healthiest part is always near the growing tip so short cuttings are best.”

Remove the lower leaves, including any tiny, new ones. Then make another clean cut just below that exposed leaf nodule. The gardening gurus explained that this is where a lot of growth hormones are contained and is therefore “the best place for the new roots to grow from”. 

If it is a particularly leafy shoot remove a few more leaves to reduce the stress on the cutting as “excess leaves will just sap the plant’s energy”.

The experts added: “You must leave some leaves on, however, or the cutting will not be able to breathe at all! If the only leaves you have are very large, then just cut them in half.”

While many plants will form roots without rooting hormone, the use of a rooting hormone “increases the chance that the new plant will thrive”. Before putting the plant into the compost, pour a little rooting hormone out of the container, moisten the end of the cutting and dip or roll the bottom a few inches in the rooting powder. 

Using the pencil upside down, make a hole in the compost, alongside the side of the pot where the roots will find it easier to grow. Slip the cutting into the hole and gently firm the compost around it. Mark up the cuttings by writing the name of the plant and the date the cutting was made on the label.

Place the polythene bag over the pot and this acts as a “mini propagator”, helping to prevent too much evaporation and keeping the moisture in the pot which will “encourage the new cutting to grow”. 

The experts instructed: “Take the bag off to let in air if it looks too humid inside, and don’t let the bag touch any leaves or they will just rot.”

Once the roots have taken, gardeners can remove the plastic bag and the new plants will survive just fine, but “don’t expect 100 percent success rate” as some cuttings “will always die”. 

The “best way” to keep successful cuttings healthy over the winter is to keep them on a windowsill indoors, but they should also survive in an unheated greenhouse or porch if the compost is kept almost dry from October until late March.