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One of the best ways to propagate Lavatera is by a method known as taking softwood cuttings. This is often done in the spring or early summer and is super easy to do, even for beginners.
If you have never propagated Lavatera through cuttings, this is the perfect opportunity for you to try. With the tips you will find below, you should have garden ready plants either this year if you take them early enough which is spring, or next year if you take them a little later in the early to mid-summer months.
When to take softwood Lavatera cuttings
You cannot take cuttings at any time of the year as they need time to root and mature. This is why it is important to take cuttings around spring to early summer, the earlier the better. At this time, the new growth has emerged and has had the time to mature enough to adapt to the environment but it will still be nice soft foliage and these have the best chance of rooting compared to taking hardwood cuttings.
Furthermore, don’t take taking cuttings from stems with flowers as they don’t root as well. This is because the flowers will take all the energy out of the little cuttings when what you want them to do is concentrate on producing roots.
How to take cuttings
When it is time to time to take cuttings, it is a good idea to get everything ready that you need, including filling the small pot beforehand with seed or cutting compost so you can plant the cutting straight away. What you will actually need is a sharp pair of secateurs or a knife, some pots to plant the cuttings, a propagator with heat (if you have one) this is not essential as a clear plastic bag will also work just as well if you have not got a propagator, and moist cutting compost. You can also use multi-purpose compost mixed with grit too. From personal experience, I always like to take cuttings and plant them straight away.
Harvest a 10cm cutting below a leaf node from a healthy plant, the new growth should be fresh new foliage. If you are not transplanting the cuttings immediately, wrap them in newspaper and set them aside in a cool area. Alternatively, place them in a plastic bag and refrigerate them until you are ready to transplant.
Remove 1/3 of the lower leaves to give enough space for the rooting node (this is where the leaves usually sprout from) and dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone. Once you have done this you should transfer it to the biodegradable pot which is already filled with your preferred suitable compost. I like to put three cuttings to a pot around the edges. This way they are less likely to rot.
You can use biodegradable pots so that it is easier to transfer to the ground in the pot without disturbing the roots.
Next, place the pots in a heated propagator in a bright position but not in direct sunlight. If you don’t have a propagator, you can simply cover the pots with a plastic bag for insulation, keep the soil moist and wait for signs of new growth. You should air the plants once a week for 10 minutes.
If you are not transplanting the cuttings immediately, wrap them in newspaper and set them in a cool area. Alternatively, place them in a plastic bag and refrigerate them until you are ready to transplant them.
Planting out your new Lavatera cuttings
Once the root system is established, you can transfer the cuttings to the ground or a permanent pot. If you planted your cuttings in early spring and they are ready to plant out mid-summer this is perfect. If you planted them sooner then wait until spring to plant them out.
It is good to use peat pots because the transfer is direct and the roots remain intact. If you didn’t use biodegradable pots, make sure not to damage the roots while trying to dislodge the plant during transplantation.
Once you successfully transplant the cuttings, make sure you water them occasionally because they don’t like too much water. Additionally, they should receive enough sunlight to promote healthy growth.
General after care of young Lavatera
- Feed the plant using well-rotted manure or a general fertiliser during the growing season. This way the plant will have enough resources to support healthy growth.
- Deal with diseases and pest attacks as soon as they appear.
To wrap up
Propagating through cuttings saves you some time compared to sowing seeds as you don’t have to wait for germination. As long as you harvest the cuttings on time and from the right sections, root development should not be an issue. Follow the guidelines stated above and let us know how it went in the comment section. All the best!