Many people take cuttings from stems and even leaves, but there is another way which is successful for some plants, and can be done in the winter, when plants are dormant (this demonstration was done in January). Root cuttings can be taken from the following plants: Acanthus, Anchusa, Brunnera, Catanche, Crambe, Dicentra, Dictamnus, Echinacea, Eryngium, Anemone japonica, Nepeta, Papaver, Phlox, Primula, Rhus, Romneya and Verbascum.
1. Fill a pot with a prepared cuttings medium, either a commercial one or your own home-made mix, if you have one.
2. Take a plant with strong roots – here an eryngium.
3. Cut roots off the plant and remove the lower sections that have fine, growing active roots (these sections can be potted up separately).
4. Cut the root into sections approximately 3cm long. Make a slanting cut at the top end of the cutting, and a straight one at the bottom (this is solely so that you can tell which way is which – it is absolutely essential that the cuttings go in the right way up).
5. The prepared cuttings should look like this.
6. Place the cuttings in your prepared cuttings medium so that the top is just level with the surface.
7. Put a layer of inert material, eg Perlite, on the top of the compost. Keep the cuttings watered.
8. The original plant can now be re-potted.
The demonstration is by John Horsey, who runs courses in Horticulture and Garden History. For more information, see www.johnhorseyhorticulture.co.uk.