Many plants, including a wide range of deciduous shrubs such as philadelphus, hydrangea, deutzia, weigela and buddleja, can be propagated by softwood cuttings at this time of year. Softwood cuttings are taken from new young shoots that haven’t yet started to firm up and turn woody.
They should root in three to four weeks as long as you provide a cool, moist environment around the tops of the cuttings and shade from the sun. An enclosed propagator on a north-facing windowsill or shaded greenhouse is ideal and provides the humidity needed to stop soft cuttings from wilting until roots develop. Most will root without additional heat in summer, although a little gentle base heat can help roots develop, as long as you keep the tops of cuttings cool and hydrated by regular misting with water.
When trimmed and prepared, the base of the cuttings can be treated with a rooting compound to encourage roots, although many shrubs will root without it. As for compost, you need a mix that retains moisture and has good air porosity to help root development. You can create this by mixing together three parts multi-purpose compost with two parts Perlite or Vermiculite.
How to take softwood cuttings
Collect the cuttings in early morning when it's cool and popu00a0them into a damp polythene bag to prevent wilting.