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The Herb Society of America
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How to Take Herb Cuttings

Stem Cuttings

1. Choose a healthy plant to take cuttings from.

  • Disease and insect free
  • Free of yellowing, moldy leaves, or dead leaves
  • No signs of wilting
  • No signs of stress

2. Take short cuttings about 3-4" long.

  • Try to take the cutting off of new softwood or herbaceous growth
  • Look for stems that are strong but flexible.
  • Use a sterilized sharp knife or scissors.
  • Take the cuttings in cool weather if possible or work in a shaded area.
  • Work as fast as possible so your cutting won't wilt. Avoid working in the hot sun.

3. Carefully remove the leaves from the bottom part of the cutting that will be inserted in the soil.

  • Leave only a few small leaves at the top
  • Be careful not to bend or damage the stem.

4. Dip the stem in rooting hormone if needed. Generally, root hormones are not needed for softwood cuttings. Therefore, most herb cuttings will develop roots without using hormones. An exception to this would be rosemary and bay. Consult a good gardening reference book to determine herbs that are difficult to root and that might be good candidates for rooting hormones.

5. Place your cuttings in a container filled with soil free medium

6. Depth of containers should be no more than 2-3"

  • Use flats for a large amount of cuttings and use small pots for smaller amounts.
  • Place the cuttings deep enough so that the leaves barely clear the surface of the soil.
  • Place rows close enough so that the leaves of the cuttings are almost touching.
  • Run a knife through the soil to make a small furrow to insert your cuttings into.
  • Insert cuttings at an angle.

7. Water the cuttings in after they have been inserted.

  • water gently
  • moisten the medium when watering, take care to not overwater

8. Create humidity for your cuttings by covering them with a dome or tent. Try plastic wrap, polyethylene, or clear plastic bags.

  • Bent coat hangers can be used to help support your tent.
  • Find an area that provides bright light and avoid direct sunlight.

9. Choose the location for your cuttings.

10. Check cuttings daily for moisture and remove any that have died.

11. Randomly check cuttings a week or two after planting for root development.

Transplant when the roots are 1/4" to 1/2" long.  

Root Cuttings

1. Try to take cuttings in the early spring or late fall.

2. Take short cuttings about 2" inches in length

  • Choose a healthy plant to take your root cuttings from.
  • Dig up the plants and cut off roots with a sterilized, sharp knife or scissors.
  • Leave the plant in the ground and dig up soil close to it in order to take your cuttings.
  • Choose roots that are at least 1/4-1/2" in diameter avoid the thinner, finer roots.
  • Try to keep the roots oriented in the same direction

3. Fill a sterilized container with soil-less medium to about 3/4" from the top

4. Insert cuttings horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, in the same manner that the plant was growing.

5. Fill the rest of the container with your medium making sure the root pieces are covered.

6. Water your container. Be careful not to over water.

7. Place container in a cool area or a cold frame until spring if the cuttings were taken in the fall. Place spring cuttings in a shaded area and keep moist until new growth appears.