Do Plant Cuttings Need Light?

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You might be thinking that growing plants from cuttings is pretty simple. A few snips and some dirt plus a little time and you will have a new plant. It is actually a little more involved, and will probably open up a whole bunch of questions on the part of the gardener attempting the process.

One question you might have, and arguably one of the most important, is do plant cuttings need light? Successful propagation of plant leaf and stem cuttings does involve light, and while it does need to be bright, it is most beneficial when it is indirect or diffused.

While this is a general rule, the level and amount of light needed depends on the type of plant you are trying to cultivate. Root cuttings do not need sunlight until shoots start to emerge.

Growing plants from cuttings is a great way to expand your home garden in an inexpensive way. Understanding the lighting requirements is just part of the process, albeit an important one.

Continue reading this article to learn even more about the lighting needs of plant cuttings and a few other tips to help your cuttings be successful.

Do Plant Cuttings Need Sunlight To Root? 

There are three different kinds of cuttings you can use to start a new plant from an existing one. Stem, leaf or root cuttings are the most common cuttings used in this process. If you are attempting any of the three, lighting might be a concern for you.

Lighting is a crucial component when you are cultivating a new plant from a stem or leaf cutting. Providing bright light will give your plants the ability to develop new roots.

When you are working with a stem or leaf cutting you will need to employ the use of a bright light, but indirect is best. The stem or leaf needs to create new roots, and to do so they need energy. Light will provide that energy through photosynthesis.

The right level of light is very important as too much will cause stress to the plant leaves and too little will stunt the development of the root system you want the plant to create.

Lighting becomes less important when you are working with a root cutting. You will not need light when you are propagating a new plant from a root cutting until the new shoots begin to emerge from the root.

Do Cuttings Need Direct Sunlight? 

Now that we understand that sunlight is important for leaf and stem cuttings as they grow new roots, you might wonder about the difference between direct and indirect sunlight and which is more effective. Cuttings of this kind do not like direct sunlight and will actually suffer unless the light is indirect.

As we talked about above, you need to use bright light when you are trying to get your cuttings to develop roots, but this night needs to be indirect. Direct sunlight will do more harm than good when it comes to cultivating new plants from cuttings. The direct sunlight will heat up the plant too much. It also dehydrates the plant by drying the leaves and evaporating the much needed water.

The amount of light needed will depend on the type of plant you are cultivating.

Cuttings are usually placed under some kind of container or plastic bag to help maintain a high level of humidity around the leaves. Direct sunlight will heat this up too much and will likely burn the leaves. You want the plant to stay warm, but direct sunlight will make it too warm.

Should Cuttings Be Kept In The Dark? 

Leaf and stem cuttings do need light to help them develop a root system, so keeping them in the dark just won’t be effective. Without light they will have no way to create the energy needed to develop those roots. Remember to keep leaf and stem cuttings in a place with bright but indirect light in order for them to be successful.

But not all cuttings need light to develop. When you are cultivating a new plant from a root cutting, you don’t need to worry about light until the plant begins to develop new leaves. You will know to move the plant to an area with light once shoots begin to develop. This means you can keep

Unlike leaf and stem cuttings, root cuttings do not use photosynthesis to create the energy they need. When you are growing a new plant from a root cutting, the process begins by taking a cutting when the plant is dormant. When it is dormant, the root contains the most stored energy.

With this stored energy, the root will be able to develop two or three new stems. In turn these stems will develop a new root system and the root cutting will disintegrate.

Because they don’t need energy from the light, you can keep them in the dark until the shoots begin to emerge.

What Light Do You Use For Cuttings? 

Understanding that light is an important component when it comes to stem and leaf cuttings, you will want to make sure you are using the right light. This doesn’t mean you have to invest a lot of money into a lighting system for your plants.

These cuttings just need to be in indirect sunlight. This means you can place them in an area of your house where the actual sun is your light. Just make sure the area is bright and warm, just out of the direct sunlight.

If you don’t have an area in your home that gets indirect sunlight or you are unable to provide sunlight for extended periods, LEDs are another option as they do not heat up the area underneath them as much and will provide constant light.

The LED will provide consistency in lighting and a uniformity that cannot be achieved by placing the cuttings in a sunny area of your home.

If you are working with a lot of cuttings, a lighting system may be something you should look into, but when you are only working with only a few cuttings or if you are just trying this method out, and don’t want to invest a lot, try finding a good location in your home.

How Much Light Do Plant Cuttings Need? 

Lighting is important but how much light should your plant cutting get? The amount of light the cutting needs is heavily dependent on the type of plant you are growing.

The leaf or stem cuttings will often need 18 hours or more of indirect light to properly root. You can even have the cutting sit under a light for 24 hours. The indirect light will help them get the energy to create the roots they need.

Again, root cuttings don’t need light and therefore this doesn’t apply to them.

Do Cuttings In Water Need Sunlight? 

There are many methods to propagating plants from cuttings by placing the cuttings in different mediums.

One method involves putting the cutting directly in a glass or pot of only water.

Yes, that’s right just water. No dirt, potting soil or anything else. Pretty simple. But light is still a requirement with this method.

Plant cutting in a glass of water

As with any leaf or stem cutting, even those in water, light should be indirect, yet bright to encourage root growth. The light provides the energy needed to produce the roots when the cutting is placed in water or other growth medium.

Cuttings in water will root if they are in a vase of water in an area of your home that is warm and receives indirect sunlight. Or you can use artificial light to encourage growth. Regardless of where the light comes from, it is still a necessity when these cuttings are in water.

How Do You Encourage The Roots To Grow From Cuttings?

How Do You Encourage The Roots To Grow From Cuttings?

Encouraging the roots to grow in cuttings isn’t just a simple matter of snipping and growing. There are things you can do to encourage the root system to grow.

  • Prepare The Plant: One of the first things you can do to ensure roots do grow is to properly prepare the plant from which you are taking the cuttings. Make sure the plant is healthy and well cared for. This will give you a good start and healthy cuttings. It will be harder to cultivate a healthy plant if your cuttings are weak to start with.
  • Ideal Conditions: Make sure the growing conditions are ideal for your cuttings. This means providing a place with indirect light, that is warm and very humid. Once you have your cuttings giving them a warm place to grow with a high level of humidity will give them the moisture they need and the right conditions. You don’t want the cuttings to dry out, so keep them moist from the time you cut to when you place them whatever growing medium you are using.
  • Research: We also recommend doing some research on the type of plant you are trying to grow. Different plants do better with different light levels or growing mediums. Some root best in strict water, while others will want potting mixes or soilless mixes.
  • Growth Hormone: Growth hormone for plant cuttings is another option to consider. This can speed up the whole process of root development. You won’t need a lot of growth hormones. A little goes a long way. Using too much will actually stunt the root development.

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Whatever kind of plant you are attempting to cultivate from a leaf or stem cutting, light is going to be very important. These kinds of cuttings require indirect light to develop the root system they need to be successful.

Growing new plants from cuttings of plants you already have is a great way to expand your garden or houseplants for a minimal cost. You can try rooting all sorts of plants including shrubs, trees and flowers.