This year is the first year I've ever had any success propagating from cuttings. I've tried this many times before, without success, but this year all of my cuttings have taken and are growing nicely... But I now don't know what to do :-(

The cuttings have been taken last Autumn and overwintered in a cold frame. I've got cuttings from Forsythia, Ribus, Magnolia, Jasmine and a Climbing Rose.

These are all in deep pots, and there are multiple cuttings per pot, all growing. I want to separate these up now into individual pots. Do I just pull them out by their stems, or should I try and take them out with some soil round the roots?

  • ...when you potted them up in the first place? A bit late for that now, of course.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


You didn't say whether or not you had humidity domes over them and that will affect what you do somewhat. I have trouble with humidity domes, because mine tend to want to wilt when I take it off. I have to baby them and introduce more holes to allow more air flow and get them used to it gradually, though in SC the humidity is high enough to feel like you're swimming some days.

If not, then I'd leave them in their pot for as long as you can stand it or until they show negative results of it. You can expect some root die back regardless of how gentle you are, because you're disturbing them and changing media. Even if it's the same media, it's going to have more and possibly different nutrients. If they're happy the way they are, then leave them there to get the best root system you can. The stronger the root system, the less die back will affect them. One thing you could do is start teaching them to be drought tolerant. I'm sure you watered them to keep the soil moist when they were gaining roots. You can let them dry out slightly to inclement them to this as once they're established, you probably won't be watering them as frequently.

If and when you do repot them, definitely don't pull them out by the stem as the roots will be anchored as well as tangled with the roots of the other plants in the pot. Weave your fingers in between the bases, as close to the dirt as possible, tilt it upside down or to the side and gently squeeze the pot to get the dirt to release from the pot. Then let the whole mass slide out. You should have your other pots or ground spots prepped already with holes dug, potting soil amended in it and more dirt ready to pack them in. You want to do it as swiftly as possible to avoid drying out or stressing the roots.

Take the mass of dirt and plants and see if a gentle squeeze here and there will cause them to break apart into individual plants. Chances are that some roots will be tangled. Just break or cut them away. Do this as little as possible, but you can do more damage trying to save every root, than to sacrifice a small portion and get it done quickly.

When you have them separated, either get them in the ground or put them in their pots. Either way, water them thoroughly to give the plant a boost and to settle the dirt. If they're potted, then put them in a shadier spot for a week and then move them back in full sun. If you are putting them in the ground, you should add some potting soil, but mix it in with your regular dirt about 50/50 min. I live in an area with lots of clay and one thing that's been known to happen is a plant does poorly because A, the difference in the potting soil and the clay are too great and the roots don't want to leave the hole and spread, and B, the clay is so slick and packed that if you don't scrape the side, they just spin around in the hole instead of spreading out. Good luck with your plants.


I tried cuttings the first time last year and currently facing the same issue. I already replanted my cuttings from one pot and I was really surprised that there were so many roots.

Don't try to pull on a stem it will (maybe fatally) damage your roots

I was very afraid of damaging the roots so I carefully turned the pot and shook out the plants while covering the top of the pot with my hand and having the stems loosely between my fingers. The soil was falling off and I realized that most of the roots have been located in the drainage at the bottom of the pot. (This was for my Abelias).

For the roses I think I will put them into a bucket full of water and try to "dissolve" the soil so that in the end the new plants will get out of the pot and will be swimming in my bucket and I can easily (without getting thorned) pick up and replant. The "stems between my finger"-idea I don't want to try with the roses.


Many times I cut a branch and put it directly into the ground. My climate permits it. This works for roses too. They grow very well, without any more intervention.

For oleanders or others, I just put them into a glass bottle, until they get roots (in about 15-20 days with plenty of light, but not sun). Just use clean but not cold water.

When they get roots, then yes, carefully plant them in the ground. It's better if you follow the rules of switching from growing hydroponics to those in the ground.

Just as a tip, pass your cuttings into the ground very gently, without breaking the earth in the pot. This means if you have 3-4 cuttings in a pot, plant them all close together, if the garden has enough space.


@ Mark Cooper = I think that's better. Most of all, if you transplant into a garden, but also into a bigger pot. Choose a big pot, where they can grow freely. Dividing roots is always very dangerous.

  • So are you suggesting to repot all the cuttings from one pot directly into another without disturbing them? Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 6:25

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