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 Pieris Japonica (also known as Pieris Forest Flame) 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 how to take pieris forest flame cuttings!

Pieris Japonica Forest Flame
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When is the Best Time to Take Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings?

Pieris Forest flame cuttings can be taken at 2 different times during the year and both will yield great results:

Softwood Cuttings in Early Summer

This method involves taking cuttings from the new growth of the season, which is still soft and pliable. Early summer, typically around June, is the best time for softwood cuttings because the plant is in active growth and the stems have not yet matured into hardwood. These cuttings tend to root more quickly but are also more susceptible to drying out and require a consistently humid environment to thrive.

Semi-Hardwood Cuttings in Late Summer

As the growing season progresses, the new stems start to harden and mature. By late summer, usually around August or September, these stems have partially hardened off but are not yet fully woody, making them ideal for semi-hardwood cuttings. These cuttings are more robust and less prone to wilting than softwood cuttings, but they may take a little longer to root.

Why Take Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings?

Taking cuttings from Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ is a popular method of propagation for several reasons:

  • Genetic Cloning: Cuttings produce an exact genetic clone of the parent plant. This is particularly important if you appreciate the specific qualities of your Pieris ‘Forest Flame’, such as its vibrant red young leaves, white bell-shaped flowers, and overall growth habit.
  • Cost-Effective: Propagating your own plants from cuttings is more cost-effective than purchasing new plants from a nursery. It allows you to expand your garden or share with friends without additional cost.
  • Preservation: If you have a particularly healthy and beautiful specimen, taking cuttings ensures that you can preserve its qualities.
  • Garden Design: By propagating from cuttings, you can create a uniform look in your garden design, as all the offspring will share the same characteristics as the parent plant.
  • Satisfaction: There is a great deal of personal satisfaction and enjoyment in successfully propagating new plants from cuttings and watching them grow into healthy, mature plants.
Pieris Japonica 'Forest Flame' Red Leaves
Pieris Japonica ‘Forest Flame’ Red Leaves

How to Take Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings?

The job of taking pieris 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 Pieris Forest Flame

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.

Do You Need Rooting Hormone for Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings?

Using rooting hormone is not absolutely necessary for Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ cuttings, but it can greatly enhance the chances of successful rooting. Rooting hormone contains synthetic auxins that mimic the plant’s natural growth hormones, encouraging quicker root development and a higher success rate overall. While some experienced gardeners may successfully root cuttings without it, for those looking to maximize their chances, especially beginners, the use of rooting hormone is recommended.

In addition to this, using root hormones will create stronger, more durable roots so that when you plant your cuttings, they will have a greater chance of thriving.

When Can I Plant My Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings Outside?

Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ cuttings are typically kept indoors or in a protected environment for their first winter to establish a strong root system and to protect them from harsh weather conditions. Once the cuttings have rooted and grown into sturdy young plants, they can be gradually acclimatised to outdoor conditions. This process is known as hardening off and usually takes place in the spring after the risk of frost has passed.

Here’s a general guideline:

  • First Year: Keep the rooted cuttings in pots indoors, in a greenhouse, or under a cold frame where they are sheltered from extreme temperatures and strong winds.
  • Following Spring: Start hardening off the plants by taking them outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing their exposure to outdoor conditions over a week or two.
  • After Last Frost: Once the danger of frost is over, typically late spring to early summer in the UK, and the plants are well acclimatised, they can be planted out in their permanent positions in the garden.

Can Pieris Forest Flame Cuttings be Propagated in Water?

Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ cuttings are generally propagated in a soil medium rather than water. This is because semi-hardwood cuttings, which are typically used for Pieris propagation, root better in a solid medium that provides support and the right balance of aeration and moisture. While some plant species can root well in water, semi-hardwood cuttings like those from Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ may rot before rooting when submerged in water due to the lack of oxygen and potential for bacterial growth.

For the best chance of success, it’s recommended to stick with a well-draining potting mix, such as a combination of peat and perlite or sand, and to maintain a humid environment around the cuttings, for example by covering them with a plastic bag or placing them in a propagator. This method encourages healthy root development and helps prevent disease.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, propagating pieris forest Flame 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 Pieris Forest Flame 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 pieris forest flame cuttings?

Like with many plants, pieris cuttings do best in an 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 Pieris be grown from cuttings?

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

Can you take cuttings from Pieris forest flame?

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

Do pieris cuttings grow well?

Pieris cuttings, when taken correctly, have a good chance of rooting and growing well. Success largely depends on providing a stable environment with high humidity and consistent moisture, but without waterlogging. A sterile, well-draining potting mix is essential, and the use of a rooting hormone can significantly improve outcomes. Pieris cuttings thrive in warm temperatures, ideally between 18°C to 24°C (64°F to 75°F), and with careful monitoring to prevent fungal diseases.

Is it Easy to Grow Pieris Forest Flame from Cuttings?

Growing Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ from cuttings is moderately easy and although it may not be as straightforward as propagating some other plants, with the right conditions and care, it can be successfully achieved.


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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