Many resources on cloning plants sometimes refer to “plant cuttings,” but don’t explain the many ways that this can be done. There is real single way to cut plants. In fact, since virtually all of the cells in a plant can create every part that a plant needs to survive, a clone can be made from almost any of the plant’s vegetation.
Here are the four kinds of cuttings.
Stem Cutting – Just as its name implies, stem cutting involves taking a stem from the plant to make a clone. Stem cutting is perhaps the most popular cutting method for cloning plants in hydroponics. A stem cutting should be a couple inches in length and have a few healthy, large leaves to maximize photosynthesis. Make certain to keep the leaves of stem moist as it starts to take root.
Leaf Cutting – In this type of cutting for cloning plants, the leaf blade itself is used to create a new plant. Usually, the cut leaf doesn’t become a part of the new plant.
If the plant you are growing has particularly thick leaves, you can cut open the veins of the leaf and plant it flat into the growing medium, making sure to keep the cut leaf exposed to light and moisture. After a short period of time, new plants may begin to form where the leaf was cut open. The cut leaf will eventually dry up and rot away, even as the young plants thrive.
Another technique sometimes used is to take older, larger leaves and cut them into triangles, making sure each piece contains a large vein. The edges of the leaf, which usually contains no veins, should be thrown away. The triangles are then planted in the medium with the pointy side down. A new plant can then develop from the vein.
Be aware, however, that leaf cutting is very delicate, and only works with plants that are easily cloned.
Leaf-Bud Cutting – This type of cutting is made up of a leaf blade, petiole, and a short piece of the stem with an attached bud. Leaf bud cuttings are best of species that are able to create roots but not shoots from cut leaves. This method works best when you have a healthy plant, but have very little cloning material to work with because it maximizes the propagating material.
Root Cutting – Propagation by cutting a parent’s plant’s roots is very simple, because there is less concern of the roots taking hold. However, it is not as popular because many hydroponic gardeners don’t want to harm the roots of their plants.
Obviously, the thicker and healthier the root, the greater the chance of success. Roots should be two or three inches in length, and planted right side up in the growing medium. Many growers choose to cut the side that is supposed to face upwards with a straight cut and the side that is supposed to face downwards with a diagonal cut so that they do not accidentally plant it wrong.
No matter what kind of cutting you choose for cloning plants, make certain to use a quality rooting gel to stimulate the formation of new roots.