Things You'll Need
Sharp pruning shears
A healthy mature hedge or shrub that you want to propagate
A pot or container with drainage holes
Rooting hormone (optional)
Propagation by soft wood cuttings is ideal for plants, like Camellias, that do not typically grow true from seed.
If you've got a favorite hedge or shrub that you'd like to share or just have more of, propagating it by taking a soft wood cutting is a useful and easy skill to learn. Certain hedges and shrubs are more well suited to propagation through cuttings than others, so selecting the right plant is key to success. Favorite hedges and shrubs among gardening enthusiast for easy propagation are azalea (and also rhododendrons), camellia, lilacs and roses.
Taking Cuttings From a Hedge for Propagation
Fill your potting container with potting medium. A sterile potting medium from your garden center is a good choice. Or you can make your own with perlite, vermiculite and an organic matter such as peat moss. What ever type of potting medium you use, be certain it is well draining and free of fungus, bacteria and other organisms that will prevent your hedge cutting rooting properly.
Select the hedge or shrub from which you want to take a cutting for propagation. Your hedge or shrub should have an established root system, be growing vigorously and be free of disease and pests. Summer is the best season for most shrubs and hedges.
Select the precise location from which to take the cutting. Choose a branch that is slightly mature, but has plenty of new growth. Avoid branches that are already in full flower or that have already dropped all their flowers, for they may be at the end of their seasonal growth cycle. Choose a four to six inch end section of branch that has at least five leaf nodes since at least two will need to be covered by the potting medium.
Make the cut with your sharp pruning shears at a 45 degree angle about one quarter inch below a leaf node.
Prepare your hedge cutting for potting. Do not allow your cutting to sit for any length of time. Remove flowers and buds from the branch. Remove (cut, don't tear) the leaves from two to four leaf nodes on the stem portion that will be covered in potting medium (two to four inches). You may also wish to cut the remaining leaves in half so that all the water and energy in the plant is directed toward root development
If you are using a rooting hormone, deposit a small amount of rooting hormone in a shallow container. Dip the freshly cut end of your shrub cutting into the rooting hormone, covering the bottom two to three inches and at least two leaf nodes on the stem. Gently tap of the excess. Discard the unused rooting hormone in your container; do not replace unused rooting hormone in the original container.
Plant the cutting in your prepared potting medium. Use a stick or dowel to make a hole in the potting medium. Gently place your hedge cutting in the potting medium and pat the medium around the cutting so that it is firmly supported.
Choose a favorable location for your hedge cuttings. Most hedge or shrub cuttings do well in a brightly lit moist environment. You can create a humid environment by covering your planted hedge cutting with a mason jar or a plastic bag. Choose a location that receives plenty of light, but is not so hot that your hedge cutting will cook. Providing some warmth at the roots, as with a heating mat, may also encourage rooting. Once again though, be careful not to overheat the potting medium, as this will cook the cutting.
Allow time for your hedge or shrub cutting to root. Keep the potting medium for your shrub cutting evenly moist, but not thoroughly wet. Too much moisture may cause the hedge cutting to rot. Rooting times will vary according to the type of hedge or shrub: roses-three to four weeks, azaleas-four to six weeks, lilacs-three to six weeks, camellias-six to eight weeks.
Harden off your rooted hedge cuttings before transplanting them out of doors. Help your new plants become accustomed to the outdoor environment gradually by placing them in a semi exposed location such as a patio near a building, for a week or two before transplanting. Be sure your newly rooted shrub cuttings are completely hardened off before the first frost in your location.