Root cuttings are used to propagate plants that naturally produce suckers (new shoots) from their roots. This technique has several advantages:
- Root cuttings require no special aftercare
- Large numbers of new plants can be generated from each parent plant
- The plants derived from root cuttings are relatively large and vigorous
- Root cuttings are taken in the quiet season in winter when gardeners' hands are not as full as in summer
- Plants from root cuttings are free of foliar pests and pathogens that might affect their parents, such as stem and leaf nematodes.
Herbaceous plants that take well from root cuttings often have thick or fleshy roots. Some plants, such as Papaver and Primula denticulata, do not take from shoot cuttings, although they will grow well from root cuttings.
A range of herbaceous plants can be propagated from root cuttings. These include Acanthus, Anemone hupehensis, A. x hybrida, Echinops, Papaver orientale (oriental poppy), Phlox, Primula denticulata and Verbascum.
Also, a few woody plants can be propagated in this way, such as Aesculus parviflora, Ailanthus, Aralia, Catalpa (Indian bean tree), Chaenomeles, Clerodendrum, Robinia, Sophora and Syringa (lilac) and climbers such as Campsis, Passiflora (passion flower) and Solanum.