This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
So far as the simple production of a plant is concerned, it matters but little from what part the shoots for cuttings are chosen. Those, however, that are taken from the extreme points of plants are more likely to flower early, and with some plants a more bushy and dwarf habit of growth will prevail for a time, but no permanence of this habit will be obtained by this means. Cuttings taken from side branches frequently form plants having a tendency to horizontal growth, and in some cases it is necessary to bend such shoots close to the soil, in order to encourage a fresh growth from the base, before healthy, upright growing plants can be secured. These peculiarities are not constant, and are not considered important by propagators, although florists occasionally find them useful for particular purposes.
When a seed germinates, the first effort of the young plant is to send a root into the earth; but unless this is immediately followed by the formation of a stem and leaves, the root will speedily perish. The seed possesses within itself the necessary ingredients for the first stage of germination; but as soon as the rudimentary root strikes downward, and the young stem arises and unfolds its cotyledons, the plant thus newly brought into existence changes its mode of growth, and its future increase depends upon the presence and action of leaves. The root therefore, although it apparently precedes the leaves in germination, is dependent upon leaves for its previous existence in the seed, as its further extension is wholly dependent upon the cooperation of the foliage in the growing plant.
Recognizing these well • known facts in the selection of branches and shoots for cuttings, it follows that roots will be most readily produced when there is a due portion of stored-up matter in the wood, and the root formation will be facilitated when the sap is in motion, and all the processes of growth in full operation.
It is thus evident that there is a certain state of maturity in all plants most favorable for propagation, and if we either anticipate, or go beyond this period in the selection of shoots, additional care will be required in their management, and, with some plants, rigidity of maturity may render the root-forming process altogether impracticable.
As already observed, some plants seem so strongly imbued with the prin-ciple of life, that shoots of any age will root with great certainty, even if they are taken from the plant during its season of rest; with the majority! of plants, however, greater care is necessary; among these nearly all evergreen trees and shrubs may be included.
Of this class the most suitable shoots for propagation, are small points of the current year's growth that have assumed a brownish color indicative of approaching maturity; a few leaves should be retained to assist the development of roots.
Plants of a succulent nature, and such as are technically termed " soft wooded" are generally propagated by cuttings taken from the points of growing shoots, the peculiar treatment of which will be further alluded to.