Stem cuttings fall into one of three different categories: softwood, semi-hardwood, and hardwood. Softwood cuttings are taken from the current season’s new growth, while the stems are still soft yet not too tender. Forsythia and Lilac are good candidates for softwood propagation. June and July are the best month’s to make softwood cuttings. Semi-hardwood cuttings are also taken from the current season’s growth but the stem is more mature and partially woody. Holly and Azalea cuttings are taken from semi-hardwood in June or July. Hardwood cuttings are taken in the late fall or early winter after a hard frost. By this time plants have become dormant. Cuttings from deciduous plants such as Honeysuckle, Poplar, Privet and Spirea are taken from Hardwood. Cuttings of Junipers and Yews, which are narrow-leafed evergreens, are also hardwood.
To make a cutting, cut about two inches from the tip of a plant, just below a leaf. Remove all but a few leaves from the tip of the cutting. For quickest root development, place the stem approximately an inch into a small pot of moist vermiculite and cover with clear plastic. The plastic will keep moisture in the vermiculite. Place the pot where it will get bright light – direct sun is not advisable, as the vermiculite will dry out too quickly. In a couple of weeks, gently tug on the cutting. If it is firm, then it has taken root and can be planted.
Another method of rooting cuttings is to place the stem in a small container of water and setting it in indirect light. Roots will eventually form, however, this method takes several weeks and the roots generally aren’t as strong.
When the plant is actively growing (normally in the spring), remove the plant from the soil and wash the soil from the roots. Cut the fleshiest part of the root into three-inch sections, making sure to leave plenty of root on the parent plant. Plant the root section horizontally, covering with a half-inch of soil. Replant the parent plant and water it, and the root cuttings, well.