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Propagating from cuttings is the easiest way to produce new, healthy plants. If you have mature penstemons in your garden, you may be wondering whether you can propagate them by taking cuttings and rooting them in water.
You can root penstemon cuttings in water. The process takes about two to four weeks, and you can start in the late spring or early summer. Taking cuttings from healthy plants will increase your chances of producing new penstemons.
Propagating your penstemon cuttings in water is one way to see if they produce healthy roots. This guide will help you learn how to propagate penstemon cuttings to give them the best chance of survival. Let’s get started!
Does Penstemon Root in Water?
With the right conditions, penstemon cuttings will produce roots in water. You don’t need to propagate penstemon in the soil to get a healthy plant. You can use a bell jar or plastic bag to create a humid environment that will help your cuttings root.
Take note of when you start rooting your cuttings in water to avoid damaging the plant. Cuttings that are left in water for too long can begin to rot.
How Long Do Penstemon Cuttings Take To Root?
Penstemon cuttings can take up to four weeks to generate root systems (source). You should keep checking your cuttings for signs of new growth so that you can plan when to place them in the soil. Keeping cuttings warm will help them to grow and encourage root growth.
When Is the Best Time To Take Penstemon Cuttings?
It is best to take cuttings from Penstemons when there is plenty of new growth in the late spring or early summer. Some gardeners would argue that it is acceptable to take cuttings in late summer and autumn as long as the cuttings are kept in warm conditions.
Penstemon cuttings that are taken later in the year are less likely to become resistant to frost and cold temperatures (source). For this reason, it is wise to take cuttings earlier in the year if you want to have strong plants that can be planted the following spring.
How To Take Penstemon Cuttings
Propagating penstemon cuttings in water is easy and requires a few simple items. Gather the following before you get started:
- Cutting tools (knife, scissors, secateurs)
- Gardening gloves
- Bell jar or plastic bag
Make sure that all your tools are clean to avoid contamination before you start cutting. Using sharp scissors or a knife will help you make a clean cut and reduce damage to the parent plant.
Once you have assembled your tools, you can begin taking cuttings from your Penstemons. It is crucial to select strong, healthy plants and take cuttings at the right time of the year (source). Your cuttings could produce roots as early as two weeks if they are kept in the correct environment.
Choosing Healthy Plants
Selecting healthy parent plants without flowers is an important part of propagating successful penstemons. Cuttings taken from strong plants have better chances of recovering.
To get the most out of your cuttings, do the following:
- Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut below a flower or bud.
- Take a cutting that is 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) long (source).
- Remove leaves that will sit beneath the water.
Removing flowers and buds will help to direct energy towards creating new roots instead of developing seeds.
Place Cuttings in the Water
Place your new cuttings in a jar or container filled with water. An opaque container or jar is better for the plant so it can receive indirect light.
The top of the cutting should sit just above the surface, with the majority of the stem submerged. You can refresh the water regularly until roots start to appear over the coming weeks.
Displaying your penstemon cuttings in a jar is a fun method of growing new plants. Children can watch the roots develop, and you can keep a close eye on the plant’s progress.
Cuttings should be put in an area with indirect sunlight for the best results. Roots will appear sooner if the plant is kept in temperatures between 65 and 75°F (20–24°C).
Check for Roots
You should start to see roots on your Penstemon cuttings after 2–3 weeks, but do not get disheartened if it takes longer.
Consider removing the cuttings from the water when the roots are 1–2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in length. You can prune any excess growth on your cutting before placing it into the soil.
Place in Soil
You can plant the new cuttings in small containers, such as 3–4 inch pots (7.6–10 cm) with regular potting soil until they are ready to be planted outdoors.
The best time of year to plant penstemons is between March and May when the soil is warming up, and the risk of cold shock is low (source).
Cuttings will thrive as long as the soil is kept moist and the temperature is consistent. Follow these tips:
- Cover the new plant with a plastic bag. Doing so traps the warm air and moisture and prevents the penstemon from drying out.
- Put the plant inside a bell jar which can serve as an attractive feature within your home.
- Poke a few holes inside the plastic bag or open it occasionally to allow airflow to circulate.
You can plant penstemons outside once temperatures rise and the threat of frost has gone. These plants love full sun exposure but can also be planted in partially shaded areas.
Penstemon cuttings can produce roots in water. Water propagation is also an easy way to monitor your plants and watch the root systems grow.
Consider the following before placing your cuttings in water:
- Cuttings should be kept in a humid environment.
- Using rooting hormone is recommended but not essential.
- The best cuttings are taken from healthy parent plants.
Rooting penstemons in water is an easy way for beginners and experienced gardeners to produce new plants. Remember to pot your new penstemons as soon as they grow roots to protect the plant.