Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Planting a Garden

Cuttings from Roots
Some plants can be grown from root cuttings.
Some plants can be grown from root cuttings.

Gardeners have another option when it comes to planting: root cutttings. Take root cuttings when stem cuttings are not possible. Some perennials, like Oriental poppies and horseradish, have clusters of foliage close to the ground without any stems at all. You can dig up a root and cut it into pieces that may sprout into new plants.

With horseradish, you can cut off a side root in the fall and replant it for a new start in the spring. But root cuttings of most other perennials need more help than horseradish.

Here's how to do it:

  • Dig the root in early spring before shoots begin to emerge.
  • Cut the roots into pieces 1 to 2 inches long.
  • Lay them horizontally in a flat of well-drained propagating mix such as perlite or coarse sand. Cover lightly.
  • Keep slightly moist but not wet (to prevent root rot) and watch for new sprouts to emerge.
  • When the new plants are growing strongly, transplant them into individual containers or put them out in the garden.

It's also possible to propagate roots still attached to the mother plant -- a process called layering.

Keep reading to learn about plants suitable for softwood stem cutting.

Looking for more information about gardening? Try these:

  • Gardening: Learn the basics of successful gardening.
  • How to Start a Garden: Even beginning gardeners can get a healthy garden in the ground and growing.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden for bountiful blooms all summer.
  • Perennials: Perennial plants grace your garden year after year.