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.

irishman's cuttings stachys helen von stein 031616 001
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.


irishman's cuttings penstemon electric blue 031616 007
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.


irishman's cuttings penstemon pinifolius 031616 019
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.


irishman's cuttings leucanthemum shasta daisy 031616 042
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum) looks like it’s raring to go.


irishman's cuttings zauschneria epilobium 031616 046
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).


irishman's cuttings salvia officinalis purple sage 031616 051
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.


irishman's cuttings thyme 031616 016
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.


irishman's cuttings golden oregano 031616 050
I grow golden oregano as an ornamental. It greens out in the summer, but it’s radiant in the spring.


irishman's cuttings acaena purpurea 031616 031
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.


irishman's cuttings lysimachia congestiflora 031616 027
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.


irishman's cuttings sempervivum cutting 031616 022
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.

irishman's cuttings sempervivum 031616 059
Isn’t it dreamy? I don’t know the variety.


irishman's cuttings arenaria montana 031616 040
Here’s Arenaria montana, a sweet little low spreader that is smothered in white flowers in spring.


irishman's cuttings sedum forsterianum 031616 065
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.


irishman's cuttings hutchinsia alpina 031616 067
Lastly, a new plant to me, Hutchinsia alpina, from my friend Evan.

irishman's cuttings hutchinsia alpina 031616 055
The hutchinsia he gave me last fall has been blooming for quite a while. Nice, huh?


irishman's cuttings potted up 031616 070
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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