Producing your own plants from cuttings is one of the most enjoyable aspects of gardening and it need not be difficult. Some plants will even produce roots if you place the cutting in a glass of water!
Taking softwood cuttings of native plants in summer allows you to produce material for your own garden and for friends and, if you use locally native plants, can allow you to undertake replanting of local bush areas. For this you should use plants of local origin. For softwood cuttings, use the delicate growing tips of the plant, with newly developed leaves and leaf buds. Handle them carefully to avoid damage.
Excellent drainage and good aeration around the base of the cutting are essential for success. Given the tender nature of softwood cuttings they should be taken when the leaves are turgid (full of water) and kept moist both in the mix and their surrounding atmosphere until they have developed roots.
It is sensible to place your cuttings in propagating mix as soon as you take them but where this isn't possible you could keep them in a plastic bag to prevent drying out, squirting them with a fine water spray to keep them moist.
Cuttings should be three internodes long (an internode is the length of stem between where the leaves branch off). Root formation is best at the node so the base of the cutting should be at the node.
Your cuttings need to be planted in a quality propagating mix – Debco Propagation Mixture is ideal – and located in a moist environment. You can make a simple propagation house by cutting the top off a clear lemonade bottle and placing the inverted base over your cuttings in a pot.
Place your 'propagation house' out of direct sun and spray your cuttings to keep them moist. This moisture helps to reduce the temperature of leaves and thus reduces the transpiration from the leaf.
Among familiar native plants that can be propagated in this way during late spring and summer are Boronias, Brachyscomes, Correas, Croweas, Hibbertias and the mint bushes or Prostantheras.