heel cuttings

I have an old book called “the complete book of garden magic” by roy e. biles copyright 1935 1940 1941.

in the section on propagation it talks about cuttings and the stem being used is cut at the base of the stem with a little “heel” left on the bottom of the stem “which is a small oval piece of the outside of the old stem about one-half inch long.”

it states that "roots form very quickly from heel cuttings

does anyone use this method to root cuttings?

if so what are your thoughts?

That’s a very long suggested method and it works. It’s as if there is an abundance of cambium as well as necessary auxins, hormones, etc. there. Perhaps joints constrict the capillaries so they concentrate there? Kim

The joints often have old calluses, as well. I think it is similar to how a bone will be stronger where a break was once healed.

Another name for these are mallet cuttings. The method is especially useful for things that won’t root any other way, like spins and omeiensis. Apply the potassium salt of IBA as the preferred rooting hormone in these cases for best results.

There is a minor difference between a heel cutting and a mallet cutting. The heel cutting includes only an oval slice from the outside of the stem the piece is joined to, and the mallet cutting includes a short section of the larger cane from which the cutting branches. Since the short section of the cane joined to the stem looks a bit like a mallet head, this is called a mallet cutting.

I thought it was interesting because no one seems to talk about doing it that way nowadays.

There is a minor difference between a heel cutting and a mallet cutting.

Neither of which should be confused with the mullet cut…

In my laymen terms, the cells or what ever they are called to the best of my knowledge go accross at this point in the plant, from bud(node) to bud they go along the stem, one of the members that is qualified in plant structure might put some light on this for us, regards David.

When working with small seedlings you automatically make some heel cuttings and since there is more meat, you can get roots on incomplete calluses.

there is a little larger surface area for the roots to grow from. maybe it makes a difference.

Meat wasn’t the word I was looking for but yes, in my limited experience the more surface area and bulk at the cut the better. That’s why a slanted cut is the next best.

Just what is Potassium Salt of IBA? Where do you get it?

Potassium indole-3-butyric acid is a rooting hormone. It is available online from various retailers, one being


Your other options for rooting hormones are -

non-specific IBA products which might or might not be the sodium or potassium salt or the free acid; or

indole acetic acid (IAA) products which are not as effective for rooting roses as is IBA.

The reason that the potassium salt is preferred for woody cuttings is that it is the most water soluble form of IBA and so gets into plant tissue most easily.