Stem Cuttings & Grafting

Stem Cuttings

Materials needed:

  • Container to hold potting medium
  • Plastic bag
  • Stakes
  • Rooting powder (optional)
  • Plant cutting

Preparing the container for the cutting:

  • Disinfect the container with household bleach and water.
  • Make sure the container has a drainage hole.
  • Moisten the potting mixture with water.
  • Fill container 3/4 full with potting mixture.
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Making the cutting:

  • Select a healthy stem, generally from the top of the plant. Count down at least 4 sets of leaves from the top of the stem.
  • Make the cutting slightly below the 4th leaf.
  • Remove the last 2 sets of bottom leaves. There will be a bump where the leaves have been removed. These are the nodes where the roots will form.
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Placing the cutting into the soil:

  • Fill the container with potting mixture, allowing about 1/4 inch from the the top of the container to make watering easier later.
  • Make a hole in the center of the the potting mixture with a pencil or nail.
  • Insert the cutting into the hole.
  • Gently push the soil around the stem to give it stability and to prevent air pockets in the soil.
  • Cover the cutting with a plastic bag.
  • Insert a stake such as a plastic knife to hold the plastic away from the cutting.
  • Secure the bag with a twist tie.
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Care after planting:

  • Place in an area with bright light or under a fluorescent light. The light should be 6-8 inches above the plant. A warm temperature is important for growth but too much direct sunlight will increase the temperature too much for the plant in the plastic bag.
  • If large moisture droplets appear on the inside of the bag, loosen remove the twist tie and allow the plastic to dry and tie again. Too much moisture will cause the plant to rot.
  • Remove the plant from the bag in 2-3 weeks. You can check if it has rooted by gently pulling on the stem. If it doesn't move, the plant has successfully rooted.
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After removing from the bag:

  • Place in a bright light, water to keep it evenly moist. Keep in the house until it's time to harden off.
  • Place outside in a larger container or directly into the soil.
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Grafting (Whip)


  • Cut off a branch of the understock, leaving a stub at least a foot long.
  • Make a straight, slanting cut about 1 1/2inches long on both the scion and the stock.
  • Make the cut straight and even. One stroke with a sharp knife will do it.
  • For the tongue, make a straight draw cut (not split), beginning near the top and cutting about the full length of the level.
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  • Match the two parts together.
  • Unless the scion and stock are the same size, be sure the scion is in contact with the inner bark on one side.
  • If the toe of either the stock or scion extend beyond the heel of the other, cut if off evenly.
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Tying & Covering:

  • Bind tightly with tape, then carefully cover the union and binding material with grafting compound.
  • Tape serves to seal the wound and bind the parts together.
  • While other types of grafts depend on the bark slipping well, the whip graft does not. In fact, it is best if you make this graft before the narrow tongue of wood.
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  • Remove wrapping as soon as the scion has started to grow to prevent girdling of the tree.
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