Plumbago cuttings, an easy way to propagate this climbing plant

Diagramme showing how to cut plumbago cuttings

Cuttings are often successful with plumbago. They’re the way to go if you want a perfect copy of your beloved blue-flowered climber!

Plumbago cuttings, quick facts

What to use – new growth, no flowers
Season – mid-late winter
Difficulty – easy

Cutting type – root is best, then stem
Rooting time – 3-4 weeks till first roots
Time to transplant – 1+ year (spring)

Success rate – around 60% for stem cuttings
Success rate –around 80% for root cuttings

There are two types of cuttings that will work quite well to propagate Plumbago.

  • Stem cuttings
  • Root cuttings

Plumbago stem cuttings

The ideal time to propagate from cuttings is mid to late winter.

Choosing the cutting

  • Choose a stem that’s healthy but not flowering. In other words, a new-grown stem.
  • Use a sharp cutting shears, knife/blade or scissors to get a clean cut to avoid fungal infection which causes rotting.
  • Cut the stem to about 3-4 inches long. You only need two leaf nodes per cutting.
  • Cut it off from the mother plant just above a pair of leaves.

This promotes new growth and branching out from the remaining part on the original plant.

Plumbago cuttings prepared and cutPreparing the plumbago cutting

  • Again, cut the stem you just took, this time just below the lowest pair of leaves. The bottom of the cutting should be a leaf node, not a long stem.
  • Cut the bottom pair of leaves from the base of the stem so as to expose the leaf nodes. It’s not recommended to rip them off due to the damage it may cause the stem. Leave the remaining leaves untouched.
  • Either simply soak the stem in water for 15 minutes or, if available, dip in rooting hormone.

Setting the cutting in soil

  • Using a stick or a pencil, make a hole in the soil (in small nursery pots at first) where you want it to spend time developing roots.
  • Place the stem in the hole, making sure the bottom leaf node is securely in the soil but leaving the first set of leaves above the surface of the soil.
  • Press the soil down around the stem with your fingers to compact it and ensure contact between stem and soil.

Storing and watering the plumbago cuttings

  • Store your cuttings in a luminous spot but with no direct sunlight.
  • It can be outdoors, just provide constant shade.
  • Even moisture in the soil – but not soggy – is critical for the stem to make roots. Too much heat would just speed up the evaporation process.
  • Using a clear plastic bag as cover for the pots is a big help for  keeping moisture.
  • If ever there is too much condensation inside the plastic, simply open the bag for a couple hours to let some of the moisture evaporate.

Growing plumbago cuttings

  • After a month, roots should already start developing.
  • Remove the planted stems carefully from the pot and check for roots.
  • Transfer them to a bigger pot and wait for another 2 months before finally transferring it to the ground in autumn.

Sometimes, stems look healthy but didn’t actually grow any roots. This is why it’s wise to prepare several cuttings so that in the end, you’re sure to have 1-2 stems with well-developed roots.

Plumbago root cuttings

Another type of cuttings uses roots, not stems. It’s a very effective way that is almost always successful.

It requires digging part of a live plant out from the ground, though. Best is to take these root cuttings from a plumbago plant that is already at least two or three years old.

Work in late winter or early spring, before the vegetation wakes up.

  • Carefully dig the soil out from a plumbago root clump.
  • Find roots that are 1/4th to 1/2 inch in diameter (0.5 to 1.5 cm thick).
  • Snip these into portions that are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long, ideally 4 to 6 inches long (10 to 15 cm).
  • Bury them horizontally under half an inch (1½ cm) of moist potting soil. Press down.
  • As for the stem cuttings, keep moist but not soggy.

After two to three weeks, shoots should start coming up from the root cuttings. Wait for another two weeks before transferring to a pot or to the soil.

Smart tip about plumbago cuttings

Since plumbago stems are soft, they’re sensitive to drying out. Make sure you set something up to lock moisture in around your cuttings.


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Perfect sprig to take a cutting from by 石川 Shihchuan under © CC BY-SA 2.0