University of Florida

Young Plant Industry

Taking cuttings

The young plant industry refers to production of rooted cuttings, seedling plugs, and tissue-cultured propagules grown for sale in the horticulture industry. Nearly all horticultural production firms, including greenhouse, nursery, or vegetable producers, regardless of business size, either propagate or buy in young plants.

The industry is international. Cuttings, seed, and tissue-cultured material for horticultural species are produced both off-shore (for example, Costa Rica, Denmark, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, and New Zealand) and domestically in the United States.

Seed, cuttings, or tissue-cultured propagules are planted into small cells called plugs or liners in the U.S. Plants are then placed under high humidity in greenhouses to germinate or produce roots, and subsequently grown on to a saleable "young plant" (seedling plug or rooted liner) in 4-6 weeks. This young plant is then transplanted into the field for production or into a larger container for further growth for the consumer.

Misted cuttingsThe USDA Floriculture and Nursery Crops Yearbook 2007 reported more than $363M in wholesale value for propagation materials was produced in 14 of the top floriculture-producing states in the U.S. during 2006, including $95.5M in Florida alone. These propagation numbers probably far underestimate the economic value of the seedling and cutting industry for vegetable, woody ornamental, and fruit production.