Propagation Lesson 2: When It Looks Like Everything Has Died

learn to propagate shrubs

Remember this? The lush cuttings I did to share my propagation techniques with you?  They didn’t stay that lush for very long. Here’s what they look like now-

learn to propagate shrubs

There’s a few leaves hanging on but mostly it’s a bunch of dead looking sticks with shrivelled leaves and fungus looking to take over.

But fear not friends with green thumbs all is not lost. Look very closely. See there, hidden underneath a lot of dead leaves. New leaves growing.

learn to propagate shrubs


And here too.

learn to propagate shrubs

Inspect your cuttings closely, see which are slowly rooting and which are not. Any cuttings with new growth, like pictured above, are in the success category.

The ones in the not so successful category will be black and sad looking. Even so pull them out carefully and take a good look at the end. Is there a long hair attached? Or a bulging node? That’s a root and there may be success yet. Gently re-insert it into the soil. If there’s no root toss your stick away and better luck next time.

It’s a good idea to clean away all decaying leaves and organic matter. Clip off any bits of twigs that may be fungus-ey or furry looking.

If your cuttings are inside keep them inside until they are well established. When you are ready to bring them out put them in a sheltered location and water, water, water. If there’s any risk for a cold evening bring them in for the evening and back out again in the morning. This is called hardening off. It’s a big time pain in the petunia. Plunking them outside while there is still a chance of frost is a sure way to kill them.

I know this part for sure.

Have you tried propagating cuttings? Did they succeed?



  1. Marlene Gregg says:

    I have had great success with Gooseberry and Red Currant bush cuttings, not so great with Bridal Wreath Spirea.

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