If you have a clematis vine you love (or a friend does), this tip shows you how to take cuttings to create more vines. I’ll walk you through the steps so you can propagate your vines this spring.
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Free Plants from the Ones you Have
Propagate! Propagate! Propagate! That’s what I say when people ask how to get lots of plants without spending much money. Of course, you first need to know what ‘propagation’ means. For plants, it really just means growing more plants from existing plants. Growing from cuttings is also called cloning.
Propagating clematis is not complicated but your success will depend on many factors including plant selection, timing, method, and growing conditions.
It’s not perfect and it’s not up to propagation nursery standards, but it is possible to clone cuttings at home.
Keep in mind that clematis are susceptible to viruses, and, because of this, propagation from cuttings may cause the new plant to wither and die. If you don’t mind the risk, it can be worthwhile to try rooting cuttings for free, new plants.
Before You Start
- To successfully propagate clematis, you’ll need an established vine (two years or older) to take cuttings from.
- Always choose varieties suitable for your growing zone (neither invasive nor tender).
- This works best in late spring, when it is time to take early cuttings.
Quick Video Overview
How To Propagate Clematis from Cuttings
Before you take your cutting, read all the steps and have your supplies ready. The sooner you plant your cuttings, the better.
Get a 3-foot cutting from an existing clematis vine. Snip it off just above a leaf joint.
- Look at the vine. You’ll notice that the shoots of the vine are very green where the growth is new. As the vine ages, it becomes woody and the colour is deeper, perhaps brown. The piece you cut will be green at the tips and woody where you cut it.
- I carry a plastic bag with some water in it and put the freshly cut end in the water until I’m ready for Step 2.
Cut the shoot in the 3 locations shown below.
I show a knife in the photo because I couldn’t find my favourite scalpel when I was taking the photo. Before cutting, clean your fine cutting tool with rubbing alcohol and then hold the blade over a lighter. Repeat this each time you cut from a new plant.
- Place the shoot on a cutting board.
- Put the top of the vine (the green end) at the top of the cutting board.
- Start at the first leaf joint from the bottom.
- Cut 1″ ABOVE the leaf joint (#1 in the image above).
- Cut OFF the leaf on the left side (#2 in the image above).
- Cut 2″ BELOW the leaf joint (#3 in the image above).
That’s your first piece for propagation. You can usually get several pieces like this one from a 3 foot piece of vine but don’t use the very green tips – they’re too young to grow roots. 2b – BONUS CUT – Ignore this if it seems too complicated
- You can actually use both leaves (instead of cutting one off), if the stem is wide enough to split down the middle with a knife (cut down the middle from A to B).
- If this is overwhelming, just do step 2 and move on to step 3.
Dip the vine base in rooting hormone.
Place small amount of rooting hormone in clean dish, dip stem in powder, tap off excess. To avoid contamination, avoid dipping directly in the rooting hormone container.
Insert cutting into 3″ pot (with potting soil), leaning it against the inner side of the pot.
- Cover stem (the part with rooting hormone on it) with potting soil.
Repeat with more cuttings. I usually fit 8 it one pot. If you haven’t prepared that many, it’s fine.
Water the potting soil until moist but not dripping wet.
Sit pot with plastic ziplock bag over top (if needed).
- The bag is intended to keep warmth and moisture in but you still need air circulation.
- Make sure contents remain moist and do not dry out.
If your growing environment is already humid, you may not need the bag. It’s just there to keep warmth and moisture in. I usually add and remove the bags, depending on conditions. Sometimes it’s just needed at night when temperatures cool down.
Check your plants every day to ensure moisture is consistent (not too much, not too little) and it’s not too musty or mold and mildew may form.
In approximately 2-4 weeks, you should see new roots forming. That’s when it’s time to put the plants in individual pots.
The simplest way to test for new root growth is to look at the holes in the bottom of the pot and see if anything is growing there.
Alternately, very gently pull on the plant from the base near the soil. If you feel the roots are ‘grabbing’ the soil (i.e. there is some resistance to your pull), that’s a good sign. Any new growth above soil level also indicates the plant is growing as desired.
When repotted, give them time to grow bigger and then either plant them out well ahead of fall frost, or, if you have adequate grow lights, keep them indoors until spring.
And that’s it! I hope you’ll give it a try. You may find some cuttings just won’t root, so try more than you need. This is much like seed germination: most will sprout, but there’s often a few stubborn ones in the group.
If you are interested in growing more of your own plants, a good book on plant propagation is well worth the money. Two I recommend are:
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~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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