Irishman’s Cuttings: Easy Plant Propagation

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d pot up a few Irishman’s cuttings. This is a super-easy plant propagation method that you can use to make more of some of your favorite perennials, and now is a good time to do it.

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Irishman’s cuttings are simply cuttings that have a few roots on them already. They’re pretty foolproof compared to regular cuttings, because they have a head start. This is a fantastic drought-tolerant perennial, Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’, or big ears lamb’s ears. I’ll need to trim or carefully pull off some of those leaves—that’s a lot for those little roots to support.

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This is Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’. I’ll need to cut back this one’s foliage, too. If you take Irishman’s cuttings in the summer, you may want to put a plastic bag over them to keep in the humidity. I learned the hard way last summer when I took a whole bunch of ‘Electric Blue’ cuttings and watched them die on my patio. They should be OK uncovered on the patio in cool spring weather, however.Penstemon_Electric_Blue_053015_126_AC
‘Electric Blue’ penstemon is one of my favorite perennials; this is what it does in the summer. It’s short-lived, so taking cuttings every couple of years is a good idea.

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Several other penstemons are good for taking Irishman’s cuttings. This is Penstemon pinifolius, which has needle-like foliage like a conifer and tiny tubular orange flowers that hummingbirds love.

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Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum) looks like it’s raring to go.

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You may have to dig around in the soil to get some rooted pieces. This is another hummingbird magnet, California fuchsia (Zauschneria, a.k.a. Epilobium).

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I found a few rooted stems around the edges of my purple sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’). I love this plant, and it’s not terribly long-lived, so taking cuttings is wise.

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Many other herbs are amenable to this propagation method. This is culinary thyme. I have some ornamental thymes I plan to propagate this way as well.

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I grow golden oregano as an ornamental. It greens out in the summer, but it’s radiant in the spring.

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Some “Irishman’s cuttings” will have so many roots, they’re really more like divisions. I don’t care what you call them, as long as I can have more Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’, please.

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This is a purple form of Lysimachia congestiflora, which overwintered on the patio in our mild zone 9 winter this year. I can’t remember what variety it is, but hopefully it isn’t a patented one. If you read my post on patents, you know that it’s illegal to propagate patented plants via cuttings without a license, even for your own use.

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Why are they called Irishman’s cuttings? I don’t know, and I better not hazard a guess. My Irish-American husband might read this. This is a particularly lovely Sempervivum that I got from my Irish-American friend, Patricia.

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Isn’t it dreamy? I don’t know the variety.

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Here’s Arenaria montana, a sweet little low spreader that is smothered in white flowers in spring.

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Several sedums make good Irishman’s cuttings. Of course, they’re so easy to root that they don’t need a head start at all, but it doesn’t hurt. This is Sedum forsterianum.irishman's cuttings sedum anacampseros 031616 005
A strangely uncommon sedum that I adore, Sedum anacampseros.irishman's cuttings sedum oregonense 031616 003
And our wonderful native Sedum oregonense.

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Lastly, a new plant to me, Hutchinsia alpina, from my friend Evan.

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The hutchinsia he gave me last fall has been blooming for quite a while. Nice, huh?

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And here are my babies all potted up. I used some recycled pots and recycled potting mix, nothing fancy or ultra-sterile here. Don’t be afraid to cut your plants back like I did when you pot them, and trim them again after they flush out. It pains me to see straggly plants, when a quick chop at the right time (when they’re young) can make all the difference. Happy St. Patty’s Day and happy propagating!

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4 Responses

  1. Anna K
    Anna K at | | Reply

    So glad I saw this post, Amy! I want to take some cuttings from my Santolina, but am not sure how to do it. Not sure if I can find Irish cuttings on it, but I might just have to give it a try. Thanks for the lesson! 🙂

  2. Casa Mariposa
    Casa Mariposa at | | Reply

    My garden is just waking up so taking cuttings isn’t a good idea right now but I will remember this for the future. 🙂 When I saw the title I thought potatoes might be involved.

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