Vegetative propagation refers to the process where the stem of a plant is used for growing a plant. It is a faster and more convenient method than sowing seeds.
You can use this method to grow flowering shrubs, herbs, and many other types of plants. It has been observed that even some creepers and climbers can be grown with the help of stem cuttings.
Why is Vegetative propagation used for growing plants?
Here are some reasons that explain why the vegetative propagation method is used for growing plants:
1. Faster method
The germination process through which the seeds leave out shoots is comparatively slower. Therefore, vegetative propagation remains a fast and reliable growth method. Especially used in situations where it is expected the plants to grow fast. Stem cuttings already have leaf formations. Also, the easy planting method enables you to plant several plants in a short duration. It is a popular gardening method for both personal and commercial purposes.
2. Poor soil conditions
Some soil conditions are not ideal for seed germination. However, you can grow stem cuttings easily in most soil types. Therefore, it remains a convenient method in regions that are not conducive to a plant's growth via seeding.
3. Unavailability of viable seeds
Seeds produced by some plants are not good enough to provide proper growth of plants. Some types of plants produce a few seeds, leaving you with no other option than to plant the stem cuttings. Propagation is also suitable for plant cultivators who need to grow a large number of plants in a short time.
Some methods used for propagation provide you with the flexibility of growing plants in any season. For example, softwood cuttings can be used to grow plants in any season. On the contrary, the ideal season for plant growth through seeds is during the peak monsoon season.
Types of stem cuttings to be used in vegetatively propagated plants
The types of stem cuttings to be used for propagation are highlighted below:
1. Hardwood cuttings
When the mature stems that have attained a woody state are used for vegetative propagation, the type of stem cuttings you use is referred to as hardwood cutting. Usually, hardwood cuttings that are at least 15 to 30 cm in length are used in this method.
For example, hardwood cuttings of the hibiscus plants grow quickly, especially when planted in monsoon. In this case, you may even use cuttings up to 1 meter in length.
2. Semi-hardwood cuttings
The stem cuttings that are neither too hard nor too soft are also sometimes used for propagation. For example, semi-hardwood cuttings of up to 15 cm in length can be used to grow flowering plants like Jasmine.
3. Softwood cuttings
The tips of woody plants are also used for plant propagation. In this method, the bottom leaves of the cuttings are removed. Plants like Clerodendrum are usually grown by using softwood cuttings.
4. Herbaceous cuttings
Plants of the herbaceous category can be propagated using softwood cuttings that vary from 2.5 cm to 10 cm in length. For example, flowering plants like dahlia or carnations can be grown using herbaceous cuttings.
The terminal part of the stem
Terminal cuttings i.e. cuttings obtained from the shoot’s tip can also be used for propagation.
1. Heel cuttings
The lateral shoots of the stem that contain a portion of the main stem can also be used for propagation. Using heel cuttings, you can grow some plant species like Ceanothus and pyracantha.
2. Stem cuttings with single or multiple nodes
Stem cuttings that contain one or multiple nodes are also used for propagating plants. You must place the cuttings in a horizontal position in the soil for this type of stem cutting.
Things to know while practicing vegetative propagation
Here are a few things that you must know while practicing vegetative propagation:
1. Rooting medium
The soil must be loose i.e. well-aerated for the stem cuttings to grow quickly. It must also contain some nutritional elements like coco-peat, vermiculite, etc. that promote faster growth of plants.
The ideal growth period for plants is between July to September. The stem cuttings receive enough water to grow quickly during this period. The vegetables planted during this period include ginger, sweet potato, garlic, asparagus, potato, etc.
3. Depth of insertion
The insertion depth depends on the type of stem cuttings you use for propagation. For example, a depth of up to 3 cm is enough for softwood cuttings whereas one-third of the length of the hardwood cuttings needs to be placed inside the medium or soil.
You can plant the stem cuttings in the open sunlight during the monsoon. Partial sunlight would be ideal for plants during winter and summer.
5. Using pots
Using pots, planters, or polybags is only suggested when the stem cuttings begin growing. Until then, it is recommended that you plant them directly in the ground.