Bonsai From Cuttings

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Cuttings should be dipped into rooting hormone and inserted into a seed tray or plant pot of a standard pre-mixed cutting compost or equal parts peat (or substitute) and perlite or sharp sand.

Ensure that the compost is kept damp at all times but do not allow to become too wet. Cuttings' leaves should not be allowed to touch. Watering with a fungicide solution will lessen the chances of fungi infestation.


Softwood cuttings need to be placed in a propagator to ensure humidity levels are kept high and moisture loss is kept to a minimum. Alternatives include placing the cuttings container in a plastic bag or frequent misting. Softwood cuttings need to be kept at 18-24°C if at all possible. At this time of year, this usually means placing on a bright window-sill out of direct sunlight. Fallen leaves should be removed daily to avoid fungal growth which can kill cuttings. As the cuttings start to grow strongly, propagator covers or plastic bags should be removed. Softwood cuttings can start to show signs of growth within 2 or 3 weeks, they do not however root for far longer and should not be disturbed or repotted until roots start to appear at the bottom of the container. It can take as long as a year before softwood cuttings are strong enough to be potted on individually.

Semi-ripe and ripewood cuttings should also be placed in a covered propagator to ensure high humidity levels, though at this time of year (Summer or early Autumn) the container is normally placed outside where temperatures of around 21°C are ideal. Do not place in direct, hot sun which can dry out the cuttings before they are able to root. As with softwood cuttings, remove fallen leaves on a daily basis and keep the compost damp but not soaking wet. Semi-ripe and ripe-wood cuttings are normally strong enough to be potted on the following Spring.

Hardwood cuttings should be placed outside and do not require any cover; there are no leaves to lose moisture and humidity levels during the Autumn and Winter are naturally high. Hardwood cuttings require no more protection from frost than their parent plants and only need extra protection when temperatures drop below -10°C. Ensure that after frosts, cuttings are re-firmed into the compost as frozen compost can lift and create air-pockets.

Hardwood cuttings will show no outward signs of growth until Spring when tiny buds will start to appear. They can be as late to start growing as May and until then should be left undisturbed. Hardwood cuttings do not generally begin to root until after their first flush of growth and unless growth is particularly vigorous should not be repotted until the following Spring; around 15months after being originally taken.



If a diagonal cut is made to the bottom of cuttings, it helps to indicate which way up the cutting should be planted. The increased surface area of a diagonal cut also gives an increased area for roots to appear.

Keep humidity levels high for cuttings with leaves as this reduces moisture loss; however be wary of fungal infestations that enjoy hot, humid conditions and can kill cuttings.

Remove all dead leaves daily.

Cuttings that have dropped all foliage and have shrivelled are unlikely to strike; these become a likely source of fungal infection and should be removed.

Always use Hormone Rooting Powder; it contains fungicides and greatly increases rooting rates.

Take as many cuttings as you can fit in a pot but do not allow leaves to touch each other.

NEVER be tempted to pull out cuttings to inspect their root growth before they are ready; it is more likely that you will break very delicate roots which will result in the cuttings failure

Be Patient !!