Can you grow wintersweet from cuttings?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Wintersweet can be successfully propagated from stem-cuttings. This method is often preferred over growing from seed because wintersweet grown from seed can take a very long time to flower, sometimes up to 15 years. By using stem-cuttings, you can ensure that the new plant will be an exact clone of the parent plant and will have the same characteristics and flowering habits.

To begin the propagation process, it is important to have clean and sharp garden shears. This will help prevent any potential diseases or infections from being transferred to the cuttings. It is also important to choose a healthy softwood stem for the cuttings. Softwood stems are usually green and flexible, as opposed to the older and harder woody stems.

When selecting the stem for cuttings, look for a stem that is about 5 inches long. Make the cut about 2 inches below a flower node, which is the point where the flowers emerge from the stem. This will ensure that the cutting has the potential to produce flowers in the future.

After taking the cuttings, it is important to remove any leaves from the lower half of the stem. This will allow the cutting to focus its energy on developing roots rather than sustaining foliage. However, it is important to leave a few leaves at the top of the cutting to help with photosynthesis and provide some energy for the cutting.

To encourage root development, it is recommended to dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone. This hormone helps stimulate root growth and increases the chances of successful propagation. Once the cuttings have been treated with rooting hormone, they can be planted in a well-draining potting mix.

Make sure to plant the cuttings in a pot that has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to rotting of the cuttings. It is also important to keep the soil consistently moist but not overly wet. You can cover the pot with a plastic bag or use a propagating dome to create a humid environment, which will also help with root development.

Place the pot in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid placing the cuttings in direct sunlight, as this can cause them to dry out or get scorched. Keep an eye on the moisture levels and mist the cuttings with water if the soil starts to dry out.

It usually takes several weeks for the cuttings to develop roots. You can gently tug on the cuttings after a few weeks to check for resistance, which indicates that roots have formed. Once the cuttings have rooted, you can gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions and eventually transplant them into larger pots or directly into the garden.

Propagation of wintersweet from stem-cuttings can be a rewarding process, as it allows you to create new plants with the same desirable traits as the parent plant. With proper care and patience, you can enjoy the beautiful flowers of wintersweet much sooner than if you were to grow it from seed.