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Plant Cuttings Keep Dying – Why And What To Do?

For some people, propagating plants through cuttings is easy. But we can't imagine the frustration if you fall under those whose plant cuttings keep dying. Don't give up just yet! We can help you figure out why your plant cuttings die all the time. Based on our research, we have some tips to prevent your propagations from prematurely perishing.

Plant cuttings can die due to water loss, fungal infection, and wrong timing. Using the wrong part of the plant for propagation can also cause your plant cuttings to die. Make sure to do the following before growing new plants using cuttings.

  1. Know your plant.
  2. Use recommended plant parts for propagation.
  3. Propagate at the right time.
  4. Ensure sufficient water supply throughout the process.
  5. Use healthy, uncontaminated soil.

While this is the most straightforward answer, we believe reading the rest of the post will help you understand the ins and outs of the process better. Hopefully, at the end of the article, you can successfully perform plant propagation using cuttings.

Close up florist working in a flower shop and cutting flower stem with pruning shears, Plant Cuttings Keep Dying - Why And What To Do?

Plant Cuttings Keep Dying - Why And What To Do?

Plant propagation is the process that involves growing new plants. It is classified in two ways, sexual and asexual. In simple terms, sexual propagation involves the reproduction of plants by sowing seeds. Growing new plants through cuttings is a form of asexual propagation.

While it is easier for many people to propagate plants through seeds, unfortunately, this is not always the best method. For some reason, people prefer growing new plants through cuttings. The method offers a number of advantages. But first, why do plant cuttings keep dying?

Hand holding single Marble Queen pothos houseplant cutting with long bare roots

Why Plant Cuttings Are Dying

Plant cuttings are sensitive that they could easily die if you don't know what you are doing. And sometimes, they die no matter what because some people aren't aware of environmental factors that affect their lifespan such as humidity.

There's a lot to understand about propagation through cuttings, so here's a list of the common reasons that kill them.

Water Loss

Plant cuttings will lose their water supply as soon as they detach from the parent plant. Although they remain alive, each moment that passes by is crucial. The longer they wait, the sooner they die. If you don't act fast and their water supply run out, then it is very likely that they would end up dying.

If you are going to propagate using cuttings, it is best to prepare everything you need ahead of time. This is especially true if you are rooting plant cuttings in soil. 

Fungal Infection

Fungal infection is another possible reason why plant cuttings die. New plants could get infected in a number of ways. Fungi are everywhere and are spread by wind and water. They contaminate things that they come in contact with including soil, tools, animals, and even yourself. 

Fungal infection causes cell damage and stress leading to plant death.

Using the Wrong Part of the Plant 

When you propagate a new plant through cuttings, you do not just take any part of the plant. The part to use is not always the stem. What to use depends on the type of plant that you are propagating.

Hand holding house plant

Some plants may be propagated by leaf cuttings while others by stem cuttings. Some can even be grown into a new plant using root cuttings. It all depends so research before taking plant cuttings.

Wrong Time to Propagate

Timing is important when growing new plants either from seeds or cuttings. Do not propagate unless it's growing season. Apart from the struggle due to humidity, this just makes growing even harder. The cuttings may be from an established parent plant but it doesn't mean that they remain as established on their own.

Low Humidity

Plant cuttings will die soon when the humidity is low. They lose a lot of water as evaporation takes place in their leaves, stems, and other parts. Without any protection, they lose water faster. The recommended humidity level should be at (A 34)

How To Avoid Plant Cuttings From Dying

You can do some steps to successfully propagate plants from cuttings. Trying these things will help minimize the chances of dying cuttings.

1. Know your plant

Knowing your plant should be your first step whenever trying to propagate through cuttings. It is the least you can do especially when the cuttings are in the delicate stage. It will help you avoid the risks when you know the growing requirements of your plant as well as the ideal parts to use for propagation. When you know more about your plant, you have fewer chances of making mistakes.

2. Use recommended plant parts for propagation

Make sure to get your cuttings only from established plants but again, it is not right to just cut whichever part. You should take a plant part according to the recommendation. 

For example, while you can simply cut a growing stem of a herbaceous plant, hardwood cuttings should be taken from shoots.

View this 3-piece plant shear on Amazon.

3. Propagate at the right time

Close up florist working in a flower shop and cutting flower stem with pruning shears

It is best to take cuttings in the morning as the plant is in a turgid state, but you should also know the specific season to propagate based on your type of plant. For hardwood, it is recommended to take cuttings between mid-autumn and mid-winter. Propagate softwood plants through cutting between mid-spring and summer.

4. Ensure sufficient water supply throughout the process

Cutting parts of a previously watered established plant is an initial step to guarantee enough water supply for plant cuttings.

Take the plant parts early in the morning but store them immediately in a container or plastic bag with a wet tissue. You may also keep the cuttings in the same storage and place them in the fridge if the plant tolerates frost. Remember to keep your cuttings away from sunlight or other heat sources.

When taking stem cuttings, you can reduce the size of the leaves to lower water consumption. You can reduce the size of big leaves by up to two-thirds.

Plant cuttings of rose flower rooted under plastic bottle in pot

Moving on, you should keep the humidity level around the plant cuttings high. To do this, place your plant cuttings in a plastic bag after the transplant. Keep the plastic bag from touching the cuttings using sticks around the pot borders. Then keep the cutting in a bright area but away from direct sunlight. 

5. Use healthy, uncontaminated soil

Plant cuttings are exposed to a fungal infection that's why it is important that they grow new roots fast. In the meantime, you should avoid reusing soil and use only clean tools and water supply. However, do not use fungicide at this can also stop rooting progress.

Rooting Cuttings In Water vs. In Soil

Plant cuttings can grow new roots in water or in soil. Both procedures will work if done correctly. While it is easier to grow new roots when you soak your plant cuttings in water, this is not always the best way.

Plant cuttings that have grown and established their roots in water have adapted to such living conditions. They are likely to struggle and die when you transfer them to soil later. On the other hand, plant cuttings undergo more stress when transplanted directly into the soil.

A trick is to add some soil to the water so that the plant cuttings could easily adapt to the soil environment later on. 

Advantages Of Growing New Plants From Cuttings

You would probably wonder why it is sometimes better to propagate plants using cuttings when they are risky to work with. We summarized the reasons why it can be great sometimes to choose cuttings over traditional seeds to grow new plants.

An Identical Plant Is Born

When you propagate from cuttings, rest assured you are growing an identical plant. The plant would have the same characteristics as that of the parent plant. So if you want to retain the variegated foliage, gender, and other special characteristics of a plant, you can easily achieve it by propagating cuttings.

No More Waiting Times

If you are going to propagate using seeds, you will go through quite a lengthy process, from sowing to germination to transplanting and so on. Growing new plants through cuttings eliminates all the time you will spend performing these things. 

Plants Mature Faster

The maturity of every plant varies. Some reach full maturity in just several weeks, others take months. Some plants even take longer to reach full maturity. Growing plants from cuttings allow them to flower sooner and mature faster.

Final Thought

Something's not right if plant cuttings keep dying but it's good to know that you can always try using the information we shared. Propagate plants through cutting at the right time, keep the humidity high and make sure your cuttings don't run out of water supply. 

If you liked this post on plant propagation, you might also like the following reads:

How To Grow Chives Indoors [Even From Cuttings]

How To Grow Kale From Grocery Store Cuttings