There are two types of propagation: Sexual and Asexual:
Sexual Propagation is how we get diversity in plants. It is the combination of genes from two different parents, and results in seeds that grow into plants that have characteristics of each parent.
Asexual Propagagation is how we get exact copies of plants. This involves taking various parts of plants (leaves, stems, roots) and causing them to grow and produce. This includes:
Not every plant can be reproduced asexually. Some can only produce new plants by seeds.
It requires research, and or trial and error to determine the best ways to propagate each plant. Thankfully the internet makes it easy to look up individual plant species to find the best way.
HERE is a helpful website for more details on propagating.
HERE is a fantastic book illustrating all the various methods of propagation.
While researching Desert Willow for its edible and medicinal properties, I discovered that it is easily propagated by cuttings. You can use softwood cuttings in the Summer and Fall, and dormant hardwood cuttings in the Spring.
The great thing about cuttings is that you get exact copies of the parent plant. This means that if I will definitely get purple flowering Desert Willows if the donor plant was purple flowering.
I took cuttings with 1/4 inch diameters down to 1/8 inch diameters. Both show signs of new growth.
- Cut Desert Willow stems from branches or the trunk. You can cut a long stem and then cut 1 foot segments from that.
Note: Place cuttings in a bucket of water until you can plant them.
- Fill a 1-5 gallon pot with potting soil.
- Strip most or all of the leaves from the cutting.
- Use a chopstick or wooden spoon handle to make a holes around the edge of the pot about 3 inches apart and a few in the middle.
- Gently insert the cuttings into the holes you made, pressing them at least halfway in.
- Water well and place in a shady spot.
- Keep watering and watch as new growth emerges after a few weeks. Allow them to continue to grow for a few months before either potting them up into individual pots or in the ground. Don’t worry if the original leaves dry and fall off. They will be replaced.
Not all of your cuttings will root, so taking a lot ensures you will get what you want. If you aren’t successful in the Fall, try again in the Spring while the trees are still dormant.