Early spring is a great time to take basal cuttings. Perennial plants that die back to a crown over winter will throw up new shoots in the spring. These shoots are almost perfect for cuttings as they are growing like billio and given the right conditions will happily put on roots quite fast. To get ahead of the game, a clump can be forced a little early by digging it up in late January and moving it to the greenhouse. Pop it in a box or large pot and cover with soil or compost. Or be patient and wait for the plant to produce shoots in the garden a little later. I’ve just waited till a few plants have put out new shoots about 8-10cm tall, a good size for cutting.

How to take basal cuttings
Clump of loosestrife

To take a cutting, use a clean, sharp knife or razor blade and cut through a new shoot right at the base (hence the name), ideally so it has a bit of the crown attached.

How do i take basal cuttings?
That thing I’m holding is a Stanley knife blade

I inadvertently discovered a way to cheat at this method. Over the winter I mulched this entire bed, a good couple of inches, using garden compost. Lovely stuff. Anyway, I covered this clump of loosestrife completely. As a result, the new shoots are buried an inch or so under this layer of mulch. Because they’ve all been buried, plants being plants, the shoots have started to put out their own roots. I think if I’d left them another couple of weeks they’d have taken root where they were and I could have saved myself the bother.

Can i take basal cuttings of loosestrife?
You can just see the white roots at the base of the stems

I am hoping that this means these cuttings are a dead cert to root, but we shall see.

When should I take basal cuttings?
Stop looking at me!

I trimmed them a bit, removed some little leaves to leave a clean stem then quickly set them out in cuttings compost. I’ve used an equal parts mix of grit, vermiculite, sharp sand and multipurpose compost. I didn’t bother using rooting hormone this time as they don’t seem like they need much help…

What should be in cuttings compost?
Cuttings compost mix

In the interests of space as much as anything else, I’ve jammed them in a single 9cm pot.

how to take basal cuttings
Nice and friendly in here!

I’ve given them a good water in and placed them in the heated propagation bench where humidity and warmth will help with rooting. For good measure, I’ve put a clean plastic bag over them, to keep them perky. They should root in a few weeks when they can be potted on individually, into the smallest pot that will contain the roots, likely to be a 7cm pot.

How to take basal cuttings of perennials
Mmmffff! Help, we’re suffocating!

I’ll be back, with an update on rooting and potting on.

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