Anyone with a green thumb will tell you that propagation is key to a successful garden. By propagating your plants, you can create new ones to share or to use in your own garden. Today we’re going to show you how to propagate busy lizzies by taking cuttings. This is actually a really easy process, and in this article, we’ll walk you through the steps. So, keep reading for all the information you need about taking busy lizzie cuttings!

Red and White Busy Lizzie
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When is the Best Time to Take Busy Lizzie Cuttings?

The best time to take Busy lizzie cuttings is in late spring or early summer when the plant’s new growth is still vigorous and the wood is still soft. If taken early enough, the cuttings can go outdoors before summer ends. However, if you wait until late summer to take the cuttings, the wood will be semi-hard, and you will likely have to keep them inside for winter as they will not have developed a strong enough root system to survive the cold temperatures.

Why Take Busy Lizzie Cuttings?

There are a few reasons to take lizzie cuttings, but the most common for the majority of us is to propagate more plants.

  1. Cost-Effective: Propagating Busy Lizzies from cuttings is a budget-friendly way to create new plants without having to purchase them.
  2. Preserve Desired Traits: Cuttings allow you to replicate the exact characteristics of the parent plant, such as flower colour, plant size, and growth habit, ensuring that the new plants will have the qualities you admire.
  3. Extend the Life of Annuals: Busy Lizzies are typically treated as annuals in cooler climates. Taking cuttings can extend the life of your plants by allowing you to grow them indoors over the winter and then replant them outside in the spring.
  4. Quick and Easy: Propagation from cuttings is a relatively quick process compared to growing from seed, and it can be easier for gardeners of all skill levels.
  5. Share with Others: Cuttings can be rooted and grown into new plants that make thoughtful gifts for friends and fellow gardeners.
Busy Lizzie Cutting with Lower Leaves Removed
Busy Lizzie Cutting

How to Take Busy Lizzie Cuttings?

The job of taking busy lizzie cuttings is not too difficult but there are a few things that you will need to consider in order to ensure the best chance of success. There are also a few things that you will need that you may already have kicking about in your shed.

What You Need

  • Sharp tool for cutting (knife, secateurs etc.)
  • Rooting hormone (amazon link – opens in a new tab)
  • Polythene bag
  • Bright windowsill
  • Potting mix
  • 10-inch pots
  • Gloves

Step 1 – Prepare Your Tools

Before you start taking any cuttings, it is important to make sure that you have the right tools for the job. Secateurs, scissors, and knives can all be used for taking cuttings, but you must ensure that they are clean and sharp. This is to prevent the spread of disease and to ensure you make a clean cut, therefore not causing too much damage to the parent plant. It is also a good idea to put on your gardening gloves, I would always recommend this for all plants to prevent the sap from causing any irritation to the skin. Once you have your tools ready and your gloves on, you can move on to step two.

Tip: I have a knife that I use specifically for taking cuttings only, this ensures that it stays sharper for longer and it just needs a quick clean before use each time.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Pots and Potting Mix

I prefer to use 10-inch pots but it is up to you which size you use, just ensure that it is big enough for the plant to start a new root system. Once, you have your pot in hand, you’ll need to choose a potting mix. A potting mix is a lightweight growing medium that is typically made up of peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. These materials are well-aerated and provide good drainage, which is vital for rooting new cuttings. Once you’ve chosen your potting mix, fill your container and moisten the mix. Now make a small hole in the moistened mix ready for when you insert the stem.

Step 3 – Choose the Healthiest Looking Busy Lizzie

When choosing a plant to take a cutting from, it is always best to choose the healthiest looking plant. This is done to not only increase your chances of success, but it is also likely that a healthy parent plant will be able to recover from the cutting.

If you are taking the cutting to propagate a new plant because the older one is looking beaten, choose the healthiest looking new growth where possible.

Step 4 – Cut the Stem

The ideal stem for taking a cutting should be 6-8 inches long, from this year’s growth and have several healthy leaves. Using your freshly cleaned cuttings knife, make a clean cut just below the lowest leaf node at a 45° angle.

Note: Cutting at a 45° angle reduces the possibility of water build-up on the parent plant that can ultimately cause rotting.

Step 5 – Remove the Lowest Leaves

Once you have cut the stem to the desired length, it is time to remove the lower leaves. You want to leave only 2 or 3 pairs of leaves on the stem, as these will be used to create the new plant. It is essential that these remaining leaves are healthy, as they will play a vital role in the new plant’s development. To remove the lower leaves, simply grasp them near the base of the stem and pull gently until they come free. With the lower leaves removed, your plant is now ready for Step 6.

Step 6 – Dip in Rooting Hormone

To use rooting hormone powder, simply moisten the end of the cutting that will be planted and dip it into the powder. The rooting hormone helps to encourage root growth and can also help to promote faster growth. By dipping the cutting in rooting hormone, you are giving it a head start in the propagation process. Although rooting hormones are not always necessary, without them, the cutting may take longer to develop roots and they may not grow as vigorously.

Step 7 – Plant Your Cutting

To plant your cutting, insert the stem into the hole you made earlier. If the hole you made is too small, just make it a little bigger so that the rooting hormone stays on the end of the cutting where the incision was made. Once you have inserted the cutting into the hole, gently firm the mix around the stem to secure it in place.

Step 8 – Cover Your Cutting

One of the most crucial steps in taking cuttings is to make sure that they don’t dry out. Even a brief period of drought can cause the cutting to wilt and die. One way to ensure that your cuttings stay properly hydrated is to cover them with polythene or plastic. This helps to create a mini-greenhouse effect, trapping moisture in the potting medium and preventing the cutting from drying out. Check on your cuttings regularly, as too much humidity can lead to fungal growth.

Note: Plastic grocery bags will usually have holes in but if you are using a sandwich bag or something similar, it is best to poke one or 2 small air holes for ventilation.

Step 9 – Place on a Bright Windowsill

Now that you have your cuttings, it’s time to find them a new home. Place them on a warm and bright windowsill, out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn and that will reduce the chances of your cutting’s survival. Instead, the bright, indirect sunlight will help them thrive. The warmth will also help to encourage root growth.

Step 10 – Water

Watering your plants is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your plants have the moisture they need to stay healthy and grow. Too much or too little water can have a detrimental effect on your plants, so it’s imperative you find the perfect balance. The best way to water your plants is to check the potting medium. It should feel damp like a wrung-out sponge. If it feels dry, give your plants a good drink. If it feels wet, then wait until it dries out a bit before watering again.

Step 11 – Monitor and Be Patient

As any gardener knows, taking cuttings is a great way to propagate new plants. However, it is important to monitor the cuttings and be patient. New roots can sometimes begin to grow almost immediately, and you may see growth in as little as 2 weeks. On other occasions, this may take up to 4-6 weeks. The key is to keep the cuttings moist and in a warm, humid environment.

Note: Any dead or dying cuttings should be removed immediately and when you start to see new growth after a few weeks, the polythene bag can be removed.

Is it Easy to Grow Busy Lizzie from Cuttings?

It is quite easy to grow busy lizzie from cuttings, as long as you take care to choose healthy, disease-free plants to take the cuttings from and provide them with the correct environment and conditions for them to root. If you are worried that your lizzie cuttings are not going to propagate successfully, you can take multiple cuttings to increase your chance of success.

Do You Need Rooting Hormone for Busy Lizzie Cuttings?

Rooting hormone is not strictly necessary for propagating Busy Lizzie cuttings, as they are naturally inclined to root easily. These plants have a high auxin (a natural rooting hormone) content, particularly near the leaf nodes, which typically allows them to root readily in water or soil. However, using a rooting hormone can accelerate the rooting process and improve the success rate, especially if the cuttings are taken during less than ideal conditions or from less vigorous plants. It can also be beneficial when propagating larger quantities, as it can help ensure uniformity and vigor among the new plants.

When Can I Plant My Busy Lizzie Cuttings Outside?

In the UK, it is wise to keep Busy Lizzie (Impatiens) cuttings indoors during their first year, particularly if they were taken towards the end of the growing season. The UK climate can be unpredictable, with a risk of frost extending into spring. Here’s what to do:

  1. Overwinter Indoors: Keep your cuttings indoors over the winter months. This will protect them from the cold and allow them to establish a strong root system.
  2. Spring Planting: You can plan to plant your Busy Lizzie cuttings outside after the last frost the following spring. In the UK, this is typically from mid-May to late May, but it can vary depending on your specific location.
  3. Hardening Off: Before planting them out, gradually acclimatise the cuttings to outdoor conditions. This process, known as hardening off, should be done over a period of 7-10 days. Start by placing the plants outside in a sheltered area for a few hours each day, gradually increasing their exposure to the elements.
  4. Check the Forecast: Always keep an eye on the local weather forecast for late frosts and be prepared to protect your plants if necessary.

Can Busy Lizzie Cuttings be Propagated in Water?

Yes, Busy Lizzie cuttings can be propagated in water. This method is often used because it allows you to see the root development clearly, and not only is it fun for kids, it can be a simpler process for those new to plant propagation.

  1. Cutting Selection: Choose a healthy stem that’s about 4-6 inches long. Make sure it’s from new growth and not woody or old. Cut just below a leaf node, where the concentration of natural rooting hormones is high.
  2. Prepare the Cutting: Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting to prevent them from rotting in the water and potentially causing fungal issues.
  3. Submerge in Water: Place the cutting in a glass or jar of water, ensuring that at least one or two nodes are submerged. Only the stem should be in the water, not the remaining leaves.
  4. Light and Temperature: Position the jar in a warm spot with indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can encourage algae growth in the water and may be too intense for the cutting.
  5. Change the Water: Refresh the water every few days to keep it clean and oxygenated, which is crucial for healthy root development.
  6. Root Growth: Wait for roots to develop, which typically takes a few weeks. Once the roots are a couple of inches long, the cutting is ready to be potted in soil.
  7. Transplanting: Gently move the rooted cutting into a pot with a well-draining potting mix. Water it in well and keep the soil moist as the plant adjusts to its new medium.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, propagating busy lizzie cuttings is a great low-cost way to create new plants. The process is simple and can be done by just about everyone and by following the simple steps above, you can easily create new plants that will thrive in your garden.

Tips for Taking Busy Lizzie Cuttings Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“If you can, take multiple cuttings from multiple plants to increase chances of success!”

“If you want to involve the kids, pop your cuttings in water so you can see the roots as they grow!”

“Remember not to leave the cutting in direct sunlight as this can cause the leaves to burn and the cutting will be unlikely to survive!”

“When covering, ensure that your cuttings are not touching the plastic. Being in contact with the plastic when wet can lead to rotting and other problems!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What potting mix do I need for busy lizzie cuttings?

Like with many plants, busy lizzie cuttings do best in a slightly acidic potting mix (5.5 to 6.0 pH). You can make your own potting mix or purchase a pre-made mix from a garden centre.

Can busy lizzies be grown from cuttings?

Yes, Busy Lizzies can be grown from cuttings. Cuttings should be taken from healthy, young plants in late spring or early summer.

Can you take cuttings from busy lizzies?

Yes, you can take cuttings from busy lizzies. This variety of flowers is very easy to propagate from cuttings, and in fact, taking cuttings is my favourite way to create new plants.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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