Cuttings from evergreen azaleas, roses, forsythia, Englisdh ivy, ligustrum (evergreen privet), mockorange, bivurnum and some other desirable ornamental plants are easy to root at this time of the year if a few rules are followed closely.
This year's new growth is used. Cut a 4-to-6 inch piece from the tip end of a branch. To determine whether the wood is ripe enough to use, bend the cutting almost double. If it snaps like a fresh stringbean, it is satisfactory. If it bends instead of snapping, it is too soft. Chances are it would rot before roots could develop. Wait about a week and try again.
Don't use cuttings of last year's growth. It would take too long for roots to develop and a cutting can live for only a limited time without roots.
Use a sharp knife to take the cuttings. You don't want to crush the stem. Remove only the lower leaves from that portion of the stem that will be inserted into soil. Put the cutting immediately between moist newpaper to keep it from wilting. If it wilts, it will not root.
The condition of the parent plant supplying the cuttings is very important. In general the more vigorous and healthy the parent, the better the cutting's root can grow. Don't take cuttings from shaded portions of the parent plant since they are lower in carbohydrates and less likely to root and become vigorous plants.
Use a six-inch pot for rooting the cuttings. It will accommodate several cuttings. Good drainage is necessary. The mixture or medium can be one-half sphagnum peat and one-half vermiculite or perlite. Fill the pot with the medium to within about an inch of the top.
About one-third of the cutting goes into the medium. Plant them just far enough apart so they will not touch each other. Do not let the leaves of one cutting shade those of another.
It is a good idea to use a root-inducing hormone such as Rootone or Hormodin No. 1, but it is not essential. Follow directions on the label for use.
After planting the cuttings, water thoroughly. Enclose the pot and cuttings in a plastic bag. Use wire supports to keep the plastic from touching the cuttings. Seal the plastic bag with a rubber band to prevent escape of moisture from it. Watering may not be needed again.
The purpose of the plastic bag is to maintain high humidity. Carbon dioxide and oxygen can pass through the plastic but water vapor cannot.
Keep the cuttings where they get good light but not sunlight. They should root in 8-to-10 weeks.
When roots are about one-half inch long, plant the cuttings in individual pots, using good potting soil.
After having been in the high humidity of the plastic bag, the cuttings need to be adjusted gradually to the environment of the outside world. Remove the plastic for an hour or two each day, gradually increasing the length of time. Water them when the soil starts to dry out.