Center Cuts – Which End Up?

When planting a “center cut” (visit the Center Cut and Base Cuttings page for a detailed explanation) cutting there is no tip, both ends look the same. But there is an easy way to tell which side end up and which end to put in the rooting medium. Cuttings have scars where leaves once grew, one side of the scar is rounded – like a smile. Look at the scars on your cutting, when holding it upright you should see smiles, not frowns. Pot it “smile side up”.


Center Cut and Base Cut Cuttings

I had quite a few people ask what “center cuts” and “base cuts” are. They are simply cuttings without a growth tip. A center cut is an un-rooted cutting with no tips. A base cut is a rooted cutting with no tips. These cuttings are usually a result of tree trimming that produces large unmaneageable cuttings. Those cuttings are then cut into smaller sizes that are easier to handle. Cuttings that are too tall require a lot of stabilization, any shifting can disrupt the rooting process.

The tipless cuttings may seem a bit unsightly at first, but once they branch and leaf you don’ t notice it, especially once it matures into a large tree. I have found that certain varieties will produce more tips on a cut end (4-5), compared to the number of tis produced when they bloom(2-3). (This isn’t always the case, sometimes a center cut will only produce 2 tips). Another benefit of the center cut, is size. Because they are usually take from large trees, the cutting will be nice and thick, making a nice sturdy base.

Example of a tree that was grown from a "center" or "base" cut plumeria cutting

Example of a tree that was grown from a “center” or “base” cut plumeria cutting. This is an extreme example, with an unusual amount of tips.

Center Cut Plumeria

Close up of a rooted center cut after producing tips. This is a more typical example, with 3-4 tips.

Rooting – How To Root A Plumeria Cutting

Plumeria cuttings need heat and sun to root. If you do not live in a warm climate, you will need a greenhouse, or if indoors use artificial lighting and heat mats.

Dry the cutting for 1-3 weeks in a cool dry location.

Prepare the soil by mixing 2/3rd Perlite to 1/3rd potting soil. Or, you can use ready to use cactus mix.

Choose a pot about 4 – 6 inches wide and 4 – 6 inches deep with good drainage. Fill the pot with the soil mix, leaving 1 inch from the pot rim.

Dip the bottom inch of the cutting into a rooting hormone (like Rootone or Clonex).

Sink the cutting into the pot about 3 inches below the dirt. Do not to plant too deep – the roots develop from the bottom of the cutting.

Press and firm the mix adding more if needed. You can add gravel to the top of the pot to stabilize the cutting.

Water it until water drains out the holes. To help promote rooting, you can water with SuperThrive. Do not water again until the soil becomes bone dry. Over watering can cause rot.

Place the pot in a warm sunny location . Placing it on a warm concrete patio or heat mat will help stimulate root growth.

In a few weeks(3-6 depending on climate and time of year)roots will develop. Tug gently on the cutting – if there is strong resistance, you have roots. ***Tip Using clear pots will allow you the rooting progress without disturbing it.***

This is by no means the only or official way to root. There are a lot of variations, and different methods used. One is called “water rooting” , and we will address in a separate post.