cuttings galore!

I believe I have caught Cuttingitis, a disease that afflicts many avid gardeners. I must have been bitten by the bug around March or so this year, when winter slowly gives way to spring. The symptoms of this disease are:

  • You break into a cold sweat imagining the kids’ basketball landing on your freshly planted rose cuttings
  • You plan to go for long walks with pruning shears and a plastic bag in your pocket
  • You make plans to be specially friendly to a neighbor who has bought and planted a delightful pink variety of scented geranium
  • You peer into neighbors’ gardens to identify which of their plants you don’t have
  • You start scowling at young cuttings that show no sign of growth for over a week
  • Your usual argument on the illegality of propagation by cuttings is “well, God, who made the originals, didn’t patent them.”
  • You accost total strangers and request them to allow you to take rose cuttings from their garden (this is called “rose rustling” according to a blogger friend)

Don’t know if there’s any cure for it, but I’m not too worried.

Just-planted cuttings

Just -planted Coleus, Hydrangea, Plumbago, and Abutilon cuttings 

I have given away quite a few lovely flowers including geraniums and hostas that I propagated from cuttings to some of my friends at the swimming pool. Some of them did appreciate it, and have begun to take an active interest in gardening, while I see signs of panic in the eyes of some others when they see me approach with eyes glittering!  My Japanese friends are very polite, you see, and if I did present them with some full-grown plants, they don’t feel happy unless they submit a full-blown report every year with accompanying photos on how well the plants have grown!

Here are some plants that I successfully propagated and presented to friends.

Red geranium and hosta White geranium
Red and white geraniums Hosta

 Clockwise from top left, red geranium and hosta, white geranium, red and

white geraniums, and hosta

Although propagating by cuttings is probably easy, it can be rather frustrating at times. You get the right potting mix for the cuttings that include the correct proportion of sand, vermiculite, and so on. You pick the correct length of the cutting; you cut the stem diagonally so as to give adequate area at the base; you soak it in water for about an hour to facilitate the cutting to draw up water after planting it; you place it carefully after making a hole in the mix with a chopstick; you cover it carefully with a plastic bag to retain moisture; you store the pot in a bright place not in direct contact with sunlight; you lovingly spray the cuttings with a fine mist so that moisture is retained. After several days, you find that only one out of three cuttings show some sign of growth. So you have done all the things right, yet they don’t root. I’m pretty sure that some of these cuttings don’t like the environment or they don’t like my face. I can visualize this conversation among three scented geranium cuttings on any given day:

Winnie: I think he’s OK. He’s regularly spraying us with that heavenly mist. I’m going to sprout roots for him.

Minnie: I don’t like his face. He’s too glum. I’m going back to sleep.

Ginny: I agree. He’s not my type.



I had great hopes for curry leaf cuttings that I had brought over from India. I carefully planted them in about 12 different pots and placed them at different locations in the house, spraying them with a fine mist of water everyday. I did this assiduously from February to July! The curry leaf cuttings probably did not like the environment – they were probably used to different aromas wafting in the air, lots of noise and sounds of laughter, chirps and tweets of hundreds of different birds and insects, and the sounds of various languages! All these are absent in Japan – it is quiet, no noise, no tooting of horns or chirping of birds here in Kisarazu, Japan.  So of the 12 or so cuttings, I found just today that only one had acclimatized to the Japanese environment, had liked my face and had rooted!

Curry leaf cutting

 One curry leaf cutting that rooted

All the others have gone to sleep! I have a good mind to spray the 11 other little blighters with spicy rasam – that would surely wake them up!

But for the curry leaf cuttings, I have generally had a reasonable level of success with other cuttings.


Christmas cactus behind our cat

Christmas cactus rooted cuttings                           Christmas cactus in full bloom

I’m very happy with the Christmas cactus cuttings. They make great gifts – especially when the flowers bloom.

Lantana Lantana in bloom

 Lantana rooted cuttings                                                     Lantana in bloom

All five of the Lantan cuttings rooted !!!

Scented geranium Reeves Spiraea

Scented geranium  rooted cutting                    Reeves Spiraea rooted cutting

I could manage only one of the above cuttings to root. Well, there’s always next year!

Rose Roses

Rooted rose cuttings (+Rose of Sharon)                         From these roses!

I am also happy to have propagated some rose cuttings. I have no idea what colors the roses will turn out to be.

Gardenia Daphne Odora

Rooted gardenia cuttings                                      Rooted Daphne Odora cuttings

I am especially looking forward to the Daphne Odora flowers with their sweet fragrance blooming around March every year.

I have already posted about my success with Hydrangea and Japanese Photinia cuttings.

Finally, here are some blooms in my garden.


Hosta in bloom

Another variety of hosta in bloom

Another variety of hosta in bloom

And finally, a view of the Balsam (seed bought in India)


Until the next post, happy gardening!


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11 Responses to “cuttings galore!”

  1. July 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

    The worst time is when you visit other gardens and feel the urge to take a cutting of a plant you haven’t got! 🙂 Val

    • July 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm

      Take a small propagated plant with you before you visit other gardens as a gift. Paves the way for requesting cuttings of a plant you don’t have 🙂

  2. July 13, 2009 at 2:51 am

    OMG! This is too funny! What a great idea to bring pruners on walks!! I just got one of my first cutting to root, from a crape myrtle in the yard. Some of my plumerias were also cuttings, but they were easy, I rooted them while they were dormant over the winter.

    I’m so glad you got one curry plant to root! Plants can be picky sometimes. I think I would really be offended if I found out what my plants are saying about me!

    • July 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Plumerias! I am hunting around for those in Japan but haven’t been able to find them. Wish I could take those cuttings off your hands 🙂 I grew up in India among those Plumerias and long to grow them in my garden! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. July 16, 2009 at 4:06 am

    Hi Gururaj, this post has inspired me to investigate plant perception. I just posted about it. Maybe the curry tree would listening to some Bhangra! I love Bhangra music, it makes me cry, I think I know it from a past life.

  4. July 17, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Its no use, I dont think there’s any cure for it. so just smile and enjoy your dose of cuttingitis 🙂
    I’m amazed that you coaxed a curry leaf cutting to grow for you. I’ve never tried that (but then in India, I never needed to). Next time you make a trip to India maybe you could try to get a seed of the curry leaf plant. I think you would have better luck with that.

    • July 17, 2009 at 2:58 am

      Hi Sunita, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it took me more than 5 months of regularly spraying with fine water mist and covering the cuttings carefully with a plastic cover, moving them to the right locations! I’m happy that at least one survived out of the 12 or so I started out with in February. I would love to get seeds – but I think no shop sells it. I tried all the three shops in Byculla, Mumbai. I have told my relatives in Bangalore to keep some seeds for me – this was 2 years ago. I think they have forgotten all about it!

  5. July 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Gururaj, you are so funny. haha! I don’t have any neighbor’s garden to peer into, but public parks and gardens with beautiful plants that I often get so tempted to steal a cutting of. Well, afraid to get caught, I have never done it (umm… besides digging out some moss a few weeks ago haha)

  6. July 21, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Wow, I’m impressed. My success rate has been so spotty, it almost cured me of the disease. But the thought of getting a few more Christmas cactus…

  7. August 12, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    This is totally hilarious! I can relate to a lot of it!!! I keep daring my friend to take cuttings of neighbors’ plants while she’s on her morning walks (with scissors and baggie in hand).

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