How to take cuttings

(work still in progress)


There are several ways to propagate chilli plants and taking cuttings is one of the most popular procedures. It is the best way to increase the number of plants you have that are genetically identical to the original chilli plant. These clones or cuttings can be taken from the “mother plant” and by repeating the cloning procedure, the strain that you have chosen can be grown continually and indefinitely. After some practise at taking cuttings it soon becomes apparent just how simple and how easy this process can be. What follows are step by step instructions for a simple procedure that works very well for chilli plants.


Let’s say that you have been growing this hybrid chilli plant that produces many chilli pods of extreme heat and remarkable growing characteristics. Rather than growing from seed the next generation which may turn out completely different from this plant and then losing it all together, you therefore might want to take cuttings to control the quality of the future plants. So you could take cuttings to "clone" your special chilli plant, growing an infinitive amount of genetically identical clones if you wanted to. Other reasons to clone your chilli plants are;

It’s often faster than starting from seed. Chilli plants can produce a rooted, growing plant from a clone usually before the seeds of the same plant have even sprouted, saving much time.

You will also know the characteristics of these new plants as they will be exact duplicates of their “mother chilli plant”.



A small single edged box cutter - A new clean blade that has sterilized with alcohol or disinfectant is best.

Back-up Block - This can be a piece of wood or plastic approximately 50mm square.

A shot glass - It can be either a small glass or plastic container. It will be used to hold the hormone rooting gel in.

Growing Medium

- I prefer using Jiffy pellets, but you could use some other suitable growing media.

Seed tray with a clear humidity - I use the type which can be vented


A bottom heat tray or pad - Preferably one which can be thematically adjusted

Rooting Hormone

- You will need a good quality rooting hormone gel such as Clonex.

Spray Bottle with water


Alcohol or Disinfectant


Choosing your “Mother Plant” - You should always use healthy chilli plants to take your cuttings from. The healthier the "mother plant” the better success rate you will have with your clones. Also, keep in mind that all the cuttings you take will display exactly the same qualities as the mother plant so make sure you pick one with the desired characteristics you are after. You should also take a few more cuttings than you need to make sure you have enough plants if any don’t take. Once the plants have formed roots, select the best ones to use and throw away any that may seem unhealthy. Make sure that your “mother plant” has been well watered with an adjusted pH of 6.4 only (no fertilizer) for two to three days previously before you take the cuttings. This is an important step as this helps to flush out most of the nitrogen stored in the plant which may retard the cutting from forming new roots.


Growing Medium –I prefer to use either Jiffy Pellets which are probably the easiest to use because they are pre-formed and already have a hole in them for the cutting. You may decide on another growing medium that you will use. Now before you start, using pH balanced water adjusted to a pH of 6.4 or distilled water is the best thing to use, but any good water source will be sufficient. Soak the growing medium in the water which has been adjusted to a pH of 6.4. I first boil the water to help with sterilization. Then make holes in the top of the growing medium that are about the same size or a little smaller than the stems of the cuttings going down as deep as one centimetre from the bottom of the jiffy pellet.. You do not want to force the cutting into the growing medium.


Sterilizing your equipment - You must sterilize everything before you start, because cuttings are very susceptible to fungus, viruses and diseases until they root. Place the box cutter blade, cutting block and shot glass (or whatever you are using) in a saucepan of boiling water and boil for approximately 3 mins or so. You can also sterilize your hands with alcohol or a non harmful disinfectant. Fill your shot glass (or whatever you are using) 3/4 full with the rooting hormone gel, and set it aside for now.


You must now work quick and careful. When clones are cut from the “mother plant”, you must get them into the rooting hormone gel as quickly as possible to prevent air from getting pulled into the cut stem.



  1. Take a growing tip from your mother plant approx 15cm long with at least one leaf internode, two would be better but is not always possible. (A leaf internode is where the leaf connects to the stem, See diagram 1).
  3. With the sharp single edged box cutter blade, carefully cut off one or two of the lower leaves (or small branches) flush with the stem. (See diagram 2).
  5. Make a cut at a 45 deg. angle approximately 5mm below the internode(s) where you have just trimmed the leaves or small branches from (See diagram 3). By holding the block firmly behind the stem where you are going to cut, this supports the stem and protects your fingers. Make this cut as quick and clean as you can so as to not tear or crush the stem.
  7. Quickly insert the cutting into the rooting hormone gel (See diagram 4) before inserting it into the growing medium.
  9. Whilst Inserting the cutting into the growing medium (see diagram 5), do not push the cutting all the way thru the medium, leave room for the roots to develop. Make sure that the cuts you made at the leaf internodes are below the surface of the growing medium.
  11. Gently pack the growing medium up against the cutting. Making sure there is good contact between the cutting and the growing medium.


Diagram 1



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Diagram 2




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Diagram 3



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Diagram 4



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Diagram 5


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Congratulations on having successfully taken your first Chilli plant cuttings. Now in this chapter we will explain to you how to keep them alive long enough until they begin to root. At this point the cuttings are very vulnerable and must be handled with care. So by following the steps below you should have few if any problems.


1. Once the cuttings are in the growing medium, mist them with the spray bottle filled with water and place them in the tray. Also mist the inside of the clear humidity dome and place dome over the tray. The cuttings will need some ventilation so slightly open the vents in the dome. Then place the tray on a thematically controlled heat tray or heat pad set at approximately 24 degrees Celsius.

2. Each day remove the dome and mist the cuttings. This will keep the cuttings from drying out and also changes the air under the dome supplying fresh air. This is done because the cuttings have no way to replenish lost moisture as no roots have formed yet. Also re-mist the inside of the dome and replace on tray. The humidity under the dome needs to be about 90 % until roots appear on the cuttings. If air under the gets too warm, you may have to increase the amount of venting, and increase the number or mistings per day. The cuttings need to be kept at 24 degrees Celsius. Too hot or cold will inhibit root growth.

3. The cuttings will also need light, the light needs to be bright, but not too intense. Using 2x double tube fluorescent fixtures with two "grow" tubes in the fixture. The lights must be kept close to the chilli plants set approximately 10-15 cm above the new cuttings. The lights should be turned on for14 - 16 hours per day.

4. You can use either plain distilled water (or other Good Quality Water), or you can add a very mild fertilizer at ¼ strength to water the cuttings. Don't forget to adjust the pH of the water / nutrient solution to a ph of 6.4.

5. Water the cuttings every 2 to 3 days or as needed and never let the growing medium dry out. Do not let it set in water either, or the stem will begin to rot. A good way to water the cuttings is to use two trays, one with holes and the other without. Fill the tray without holes about half way with the ph adjusted water and then slowly lower the tray with the holes into it. Letting it sit for a few moments and them slowly raising the tray back out to let it drain.

6. After about 7 – 10 days you can test to see if your cuttings have started to root by removing the humidity dome and leaving it off for an hour or two. You may also want to lift the jiffy pellets and examine if any roots have penetrated to the outside, If after this time the cuttings have not wilted at all or you can visually see new rots have formed then they probably have enough root development to support themselves. If no wilt is noticed or you see new root development then leave the dome off, if they are wilted and you see no new root development then re-spray the cuttings and dome and replace the dome on the tray. Once you have determined that the plants can support themselves, stop misting the cuttings and leave the humidity dome off. Once the plants have roots, stop misting the chilli plants and entail that the growing media is kept moist.

7. The lower leaves may start to turn yellow and die, do not worry as this is perfectly normal. It is a reaction to the plant feeding off of itself to sustain life by moving valuable nutrients and water from the older growth. Do not remove any dead growth from the plant until it is well rooted. By removing the dying growth from the plant may cause it to starve and die completely.

8. When the cuttings are completely rooted they can then be re-potted into larger pots.


Once you get the used to it "Cloning" or taking cuttings of your chilli plant is a very easy process. You must always remember to complete every step thoroughly, as less than satisfactory results will be the outcome. I suggest that the first time cuttings are taken, that you take twice as many needed if this is possible, to ensure enough clones in case of failures. Although with some practice this method of propagation should produce a 95 to 100 percent success ratio. Also By using distilled water you can drastically increase your success ratio, This the method of propagation for taking cuttings or clones that I use and works well with my chilli plants, once the cuttings form roots you simply transplant them to larger pots so as the root will begin to grow and spread.






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