How To Propagate Native Milkweed From Cuttings

All milkweeds are perennials and some can be grown from cuttings. Summer is a prime time to take native milkweed cuttings for a few compelling reasons:

• Native milkweed plants still have herbaceous, viable stems
• Mid-summer cuttings will grow roots in plenty of time for fall planting
• You can keep the cuttings containers outdoors

Cuttings provide a way producing new plants in a relatively short time and it avoids some of the difficulties of starting plants from seeds. Cuttings can usually be transplanted in 6-10 weeks. Survival is best when cuttings are made from green stems (1/3 inch diameter) obtained from plants fertilized two weeks earlier.

Steps for Taking Native Milkweed Cuttings

•  Use organic peat or all-purpose potting soil in pots. An alternative idea is to place cuttings in 2 liter soda bottles to give each cutting optimal growing conditions in their own mini-greenhouse.

•  Mix in perlite or coarse sand to allow more air to reach the newly forming roots.

•  Water soil thoroughly.

•  Insert chopstick/pencil in soil to make holes for placing cuttings.

•  Use a sharp hand pruner to take cuttings and cut the stems under water.

•  Take a cutting that has between 3-5 leaf nodes (or is about 4″ long).

•  Pinch off all but the top two pairs of leaves from your cuttings so that water doesn’t evaporate through the leaves.

•  Scrape the bottom third of the cutting with a sharp knife.

•  Coat the bottom of the stem with a strong rooting hormone.

• Place cuttings in holes and secure soil around them.

•  Keep cuttings in an area that receives light, but minimal direct sunlight.

•  Spray soil and leaves daily.

Soil For Cuttings

Plant native milkweed cuttings in an 80/20 mix of perlite to peat moss, which is a more traditional mix for starting stem cuttings than starting them in soil. Adding sand and/or vermiculite to the mix could also increase your success rate for milkweed cuttings. Alternatively, you could direct planting your cuttings in regular garden soil using rooting hormone powder.