The advantages of growing plants from cuttings are numerous,it starts producing sooner and you know exactly what you are going to get as it is a exact clone of it’s mother.Some plants require special tools, growth hormones and perfect conditions to have success with cuttings. This article is not about those plants, but instead focuses on useful and edible plants that can be reproduced easily at home. This is by no means an exhaustitive list, if you know any plants that fit this description and aren’t listed, please let us know in the comments below!
Passiflora Edulis - Passion Fruit
Nothing tastes like summer in quite the same way as a perfectly ripe passion fruit. Eat it on its own or try it in a dessert or cocktail, this sweet tangy fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, iron and fibre.
Apart from producing delicious fruit, most varieties of Passiflora (especially the common Passiflora Edulis) are really easy to make cuttings of.
With a pair of scissors or sharp knife, cut a section of light green vine approximately 20cm / 8″ long. Place the bottom end into a pot containing a sand/compost mix and keep damp in a light place, ideally out of direct sunlight for the first 2 weeks.
Even without rooting hormone, we get a success rate of about 70% which is good enough for us!
Solanum muricatum - Pepino Melon
One of our favourite fruits that is loved by chickens, wild birds, squirrels, bees and children. Fortunately it grows rampantly and will quickly fill a garden bed. Give it a trellis or fence to sprawl over, to keep the ripening fruits off the ground and out of the reach of ground critters.
Since the plant spreads by itself, all you need to do is find a branch that is lying on the ground and chances are you will see little roots growing out of it. Just cut-off the branch and root it in a new place or pot. Keep moist for a few days and the cutting will quickly start growing.
If you want to encourage more plants to develop, just bend done some of the branches onto the ground and cover with soil. Within a few weeks they will have roots and can then be cut-off from the main plant and replanted.
Lycium Chinense - Goji / Wolf berry
Eaten for thousands of years in Asia, Gojis have exploded in popularity over the last 10 years in the West and are a superfood that can be found in trendy juice bars, health food shops and most supermarkets these days. Following their popularity, the price of Gojis have increased steadily and in most places, only dried, imported gojis can be found.
Surprisingly Gojis are really easy to grow and send out root suckers. Growing gojis from cuttings is recommended as goji plants grown from seed can take 3-5 years to start producing, whereas grown from cuttings they can start producing fruit in their second season.
Clear the soil from the base of a goji plant and you will likely see small leaves coming out of new shoots. You then just need to take a trowel or small spade and slice down quickly into the soil cutting the shoot away from the main plant. This cutting should be placed in soil and kept damp until completely rooted.
Typically a mature goji bush (over 3 years) can produce many root cuttings each season, while producing fruit for your enjoyment.
Symphytum - Comfrey
Comfrey is a permaculture super-plant. Used by humans for thousands of years in traditional healing and as a favourite food of poultry and livestock. It’s worth mentioning, that although comfrey has a history of oral consumption, this is not recommended due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
As a potent nutrient accumulator, and soil improver, comfrey has a strong, deep root system to enable it to survive dry periods or heavy grazing by livestock. Even if the leaves wilt and die, as soon as rain falls or the livestock move one, new shoots will quickly emerge.
Possibly the easiest out of all the plants to clone, insert a trowel or small spade down the side of the plant to cut off a section of root with or without leaves attached. Place into soil and keep damp. Within a week or two, new leaves will emerge and the cutting can be replanted easily.
Cymbopogon - Lemongrass
Used in the production of citronella oil, and as a culinary herb in many cuisines – Lemongrass grows to be a large fragrant bush that is well suited as a border or hedging plant.
Super simple to take cuttings from, follow the same technique as with comfrey – and one good size lemongrass plant can make dozens of clones a year.
Morus - Mulberry
Mulberries have been eaten by humans for thousands of years. The three main families of mulberries are white, red and black.
White mulberries (Morus Alba) orginate from China but have been naturalised for hundreds of years in Europe and elsewhere. Black mulberries (Morus Nigra) originate from Western Asia and the middle East and have been cultivated extensively across Europe since Roman times. Red mulberries (Morus Rubra), also known as the American mulberry are native to the Eastern United States.
Cultivated for their delicious & sweet berry fruits as well as their many medicinal & healing properties, mulberry leaves are also the exclusive food for silkworms and so have been planted on a huge scale in parts of the world where silk is manufactured.
Propagated from seed, mulberry plants are slow to start and benefit from stratification by cold (by being placing in a fridge or freezer for a few months to simulate Winter). Also if grown from seed, the resulting fruit of the plant will have random qualities and may be inferior to the parent. They will also only fruit after their 3rd year, in contrast to cutting grown plants, that may even fruit in their first year.
To guarantee a productive & high quality fruit, take cuttings from a mulberry bush or tree that you know produces good fruit (large, juicy and heavy bearing qualities are usually the main factors).
The best time of year to take cuttings is in Spring when the parent tree is making new green shoots and before it starts fruiting fully. Thicker cuttings generally survive better, these can usually be found closer to the main trunk or higher up the branches of the tree. Take cuttings of 15-30cm long (6-12 inches), and immediately place deep in damp, well draining soil. Remove all the larger soft leaves, leaving just a few smaller ones around the tip. Keep warm and out of direct sunlight for a few weeks until you see new shoots appearing. After about 4-6 weeks any cutting that is still green is most likely going to survive, brown shrivelled ones can be tossed out.
Rooting hormone can increase survival rates, but mulberries are tough and with a bit of practice and the right conditions is not needed – and 50% survival rate of cuttings is common. Once the cuttings are growing strongly, transplant into larger pots or directly into the ground and keep damp until well settled in.
Mullberry plants grown from cuttings fruit quickly and should have fruit by the second year.