By: Teo Spengler
If your cat loves the herb catnip, it’s no big surprise. Nearly all felines love the hardy perennial. If you want to know how to root catnip cuttings, read on for info and tips.
Growing Catnip from Cuttings
Cats are gaga over catnip, and it’s probably not the pretty foliage that attracts them. But it is the pretty, heart-shaped leaves growing in an open mound about 3 feet (1 m.) tall that gardeners enjoy. Catnip plants also produce blue flowers throughout the season. This makes catnip a truly ornamental plant to have around. If you or your cat insist on getting more plants than you have, it’s quite easy to grow new catnip from cuttings.
Catnip cutting propagation is as easy as it gets in the perennial world. You can start rooting catnip cuttings in water or soil. If you have never tried propagating a plant from cuttings, catnip is a great place to start. It propagates easily from leaf-tip cuttings. Snip off the tips of new growth in spring or early summer, making each cut on a slant just below a leaf node. Keep the clippings cool to use as cuttings.
Catnip is in the mint family and can be counted on to spread around your garden if you don’t cut it back. This works out well since you can use the stems you cut back for catnip cutting propagation too.
How to Root Catnip Cuttings
Once you have snipped off as many cuttings as you need, move into the house or patio. It’s time to start rooting catnip cuttings.
If you want to root them in water, remove the lower leaves of the cuttings, then stand them up in water. When you are rooting catnip cuttings in water, change the water regularly and expect to see roots emerge in less than a week. When strong roots develop, transplant each into a small pot of sterile potting soil. Provide regular water and filtered daylight until new grow emerges.
How to root catnip cuttings in soil? Just take a cutting and press its cut end into a new pot of sterile potting soil. Again, regular water is crucial to help the cutting root. Once you see new growth, it means the cutting has rooted. Then you can transplant it to a sunny spot in the garden or into a bigger pot.
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Growing Your Own Catnip Indoors
The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak
Your biggest hurdle to growing catnip (Nepeta cataria) indoors might not be low light levels, cold air, or lack of consistent watering. Your biggest hurdle might be your cat. Catnip, a perennial favorite of all things feline, is a relative of the mint and lemon balm, which means it's not difficult to grow indoors.
Outdoors, catnip known to spread easily, growing into jumbled patches that attract cats from miles around. Indoors, you can successfully grow it on a sunny windowsill, providing you give it enough water and remember to pinch out the flowers to encourage leaf growth. You can start pinching off leaves as soon as the plant reaches about 6 to 8 inches in height. Your cat will appreciate it. Aside from cats, the biggest challenge you'll likely face is a lack of sufficient sunlight, which causes spindly and leggy plants.
While many people report that they like the fragrant, herbal smell of catnip, some people find that it has a vaguely skunky odor that is off-putting. Although catnip is a perennial plant, it's probably easier to grow them indoors for only a single growing season, and replace them with smaller and more manageable specimens.
Propagating Plants with Stem Cuttings
I’m a thrifty gardener. I like save money in any way I can, so I use material I can find in my local area (like all those rocks), mix my own potting mix, make compost, collect leaves, and pretty much anything that will help save me money when it comes to gardening. One thing saves me a bundle is propagating my own plants.
Spring is when I’m busy propagating plants for the new garden areas. Most perennials can be propagated either by saving seed, dividing them when they’re mature, or taking root or stem cuttings. My favorite way to propagate plants is by stem cuttings, it really couldn’t be any easier.
I’m using a catmint plant for this demonstration. Catmint is one of the workhorses in my garden, I find myself propagating tons of these and using them everywhere.
Fill some pots with soil mix or vermiculite then water and poke a hole it in with a pencil. You want the holes so that the rooting hormone doesn’t get wiped off when you put the cutting in it. I like to use my own mix of 50% peat and 50% medium vermiculite, sometimes I use 100% vermiculite (you can use perlite instead of vermiculite, I’m just not a fan of perlite feels too much like styrofoam for my liking).
Take some stem cuttings from the plant you want to propagate, make sure it’s new growth (unless you’re doing hard wood cuttings for things like hydrangeas and boxwoods). I like to cut pieces that are 3-6 inches long. You can to cut a centimeter or two below a leaf node, then strip off the lowest leaves. Roots will form from these nodes, so you want to make sure you have at least one of these under the soil level.
Dip the stem into rooting hormone making sure to get some on the nodes. Then insert the cutting into the pot and press the soil gently around the cutting. (make sure to not breathe rooting hormone and wash hands thoroughly when finished, or order natural rooting powder from Richter’s – I’ll be getting some when I use up this bottle of rooting hormone)
Place tray of cuttings in a sheltered location and keep well watered and if desired covered with plastic or a dome (I don’t always cover mine I just mist with water). I like to keep mine in a tray and water from below and mist the leaves frequently to keep leaves moist. Make sure they’re in a shaded location or in the garage by a bright but not too sunny window, if they get too much sun the plants will lose too much water or cook under the plastic. Right now I have all kinds of trays of cuttings in various sheltered spots around the garden and in the garage. At the moment, I’m trying to propagate: lemongrass, dumb cane, hydrangeas, viburnum, clematis, boxwood, black elderberry, salvia, sedum, thyme, kennelworth ivy, and catmint.
Remember to propagate more plants than you think you want, you’ll have some that don’t survive. I usually have a 75-80% success rate depending on the type of plant. Some plants propagate better than others, so don’t get discouraged if you fail. Try again with a different kind of plant. Sedums, catmint, hydrangeas are pretty much no-fail when it comes to propagation.
Do you or have you propagated plants for your gardens?
19 Comments to “Propagating Plants with Stem Cuttings”
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Reply to Tweets that mention Propagating Perennials with Stem Cuttings | Chiot’s Run — Topsy.com's comment
There are some plants I can’t conceive of actually paying money for! Pothos Ivy for one, actually almost any type of Ivy. And its not always just economy that drives it (although it is always a good thing!) Some times the satisfaction of growing a plant from a start given to you by a friend is much greater than buying a full grown version of the same plant! I have purchased an occasional (unusual) african violet before, but I much prefer starting from a leaf cutting. The ADVENTURE! The SUSPENSE!
Reply to Seren Dippity's comment
I saw instructions for how to make your own rooting hormone. Maybe you would find this interesting. http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2010/04/natural-and-homemade-rooting-hormone.html
This is an excellent lesson.
I look forward to learning grafting.
.-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Summer Crops вЂ“ Part III =-.
I think it’s safe to say all of my Mom’s plants were done from cuttings! She can make any twig grow. I have not had much success but then i have to admit I gave up too soon. Thanks for this post!
.-= David in Kansas´s last blog ..First Tomato of 2010! =-.
Reply to David in Kansas's comment
I have to say propagating plants is my favorite garden activity! Perennials, shrubs, trees, and herbs are all fun to root. Like you said it’s not hard. Catmint roots very well. In some cases I’ve just stuck a cutting in the soil and let it root in place. Right now I have salvias, Russian sage, Husker’s Red Penstemon, hydrangeas and several other things rooting. You forgot to warn that propagating plants is addictive!
.-= Dave´s last blog ..Propagating Rosemary in Water (The Herbs) =-.
Yes, very addictive. You’ll never want to buy a plant again. It’s even more fun when you can get cutting from another gardener and give cuttings away!
I’m fairly new to this blog, so perhaps you’ve discussed it in the past, but what do you do with your workhorse catmint? I’ve not grown it before and am intrigued.
Lisa, I’m with you…I want to know what to do with the workhorse catmint! I have never growth this, but have passed it up a few times, because I wasn’t sure of it’s value.
Please tell in more detail the benefits of catmint.
I know that catnip and mint both have wonderful benefits as companion plants and allies for a lot of vegetables in the garden for retarding undesirable pests and attracting good, beneficial insects. Is catmint the same? What exactly is catmint?
I, too, love to propagate my own plants. I have been successful this spring in propagating sage by simply inserting a cutting into the soil like Dave. It takes a while for the root system to develop, but if you do it in early spring, it will have the whole growing season to get robust.
Reply to Elizabeth Davis's comment
Catmint is a wonderfully beneficial plant in the garden. The bees LOVE it. It blooms early in the spring and can be cut back so it will rebloom in the fall, supplying a nice source of both early and late food for the beneficial insects. Because of this it attracts tons of beneficial insects to your gardens.
It’s a nice looking plant for the entire season, it doesn’t get leggy or ugly like some other plants (I have Walker’s low catmint and want to get a few other varieties soon). Mine almost look like a flowering hedge, each plant has a nice rounded shape that’s quite lovely. When planted en masse, they form a beautiful light purple/silver drift of soft flowers and foliage.
It is also a nice thick plant so it’s really great at shading out weeds in a perennial bed. I never have to weed around these plants.
It is said to deter cabbage moths, which worked well for me last year in the garden. The cabbage & broccoli I had by a few catmint plants never got a worm on them, while the others in other parts of the garden had loopers.
It’s easy to propagate and grows to maturity quickly, so I can propagate a plant one spring and by the next spring it’s almost a mature plant. This is great when you want to add a new flowerbed that you want to look full and mature very soon. You can always fill spaces with catmint that you want to later have other plants it, just take them out when the other plants mature more.
It lasts and lasts, some perennials are short-lived and only live for 3-5 seasons, not catmint. I’ve had mine for many years and they just look better and better.
They can take pretty much any kind of soil and a little shade (although they’re not as compact with some shade). I have some planted in dry sandy areas and some in clay wet areas, they do well in both.
These are a few of the reasons I LOVE catmint in the garden!
You can dry it for tea and bring it inside for your cats.
I have a Rosa Banksiae Rose cutting that seems to be doing pretty good.
Zen "feel" Rain Garden Ideas PLEASE!!
Going to build a greenhouse in the shade
I wish this thread had continued.
I just took some catnip cuttings and now i'm dying to know what to do with them before they dry out!
My catnip have gone wild in an old garden spot.Think i've about 15 plants over there.They like full sun. As noinwi above said plant cuttings in soil in a pot. but i'd use fresh cuttings. Keep soil damp not soggy wet.
I've had success starting cuttings by just sticking them in moist soil in partial shade. You might have greater success using root hormone, or watering with a willow tea.
The catnip growing wild here-and-there about my place is an effective self-seeder. I would try collecting seeds from the dry, brown flower heads of your catnip - as mentioned above. Plant those seeds this fall for plants next year. The seed grown plants are quite vigorous and strong. See link below.
Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow catnip