Root cuttings differ from other cuttings because they must regenerate both roots and shoots. Not all plants can be propagated by root cuttings.

Some species that can be regenerated from root cuttings include woody plants like apple (Malus), Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus), lilac (Syringa) and pawpaw (Asimina); and herbaceous perennials like Japanese anemone (Anemone), bleeding heart (Dicentra), and phlox (Phlox).

Photo of lilac root cuttings.


Root cuttings are always taken when the plants are dormant and have the highest level of stored carbohydrate. The cuttings are usually between 3 and 6 inches long and their polarity must be maintained.

Because of the impact of polarity, cuttings are either inserted horizontally in the medium or cut in such a way to mark the distal end of the cutting so they are not stuck upside-down.

Photo of anenome root cutting.


Root cuttings require a well-drained medium for regeneration. The most common media are perlite or coarse sand. Flats should be allowed to become slightly dry before being re-watered. Cuttings should be checked frequently to make sure they are not rotting or a fungicide may be applied.

Propagation by root cuttings will not be effective for reproducing chimeral plants because the shoots arise from only the LII layer.

Photo of tray with planting medium for root cuttings. Photo of greenhouse with multiple trays of planting medium.