How to take hardwood cuttings.

By | November 29, 2011

Now the leaves are off the trees, it’s time to take hardwood  cuttings

It’s an easy and reliable method for propagating deciduous trees, shrubs and climbers. The “season” lasts from now until late winter.

So now that the plants are dormant, you can get on with it but it’s a good idea to avoid periods of severe frost. The best time is just after leaf fall or just before bud-burst in spring.

The cuttings can generally be forgotten about until the following year, as the cut surface undergoes a period of callusing over the winter from which roots will develop in the spring.

How to do it

You can either grow them on outdoors in the ground in a trench or you can grow them on in containers .Some, dogwoods for example will benefit from protection with cloches or coldframe.

Hardwood cuttings grown on outdoors

  • Select vigorous healthy shoots from this year’s growth.
  • Remove the soft tip growth.
  • Cut into sections 15-30cm (6-12in) long, cutting cleanly above a bud at the top, with a sloping cut to shed water and as a reminder which end is the top.
  • Cut straight across at the base below a bud or pair of buds and dip the lower cut end into rooting powder or Root!t gel.
  • Prepare a trench outdoors in a sheltered site with well-drained soil.
  • Dig in a bucketful of garden compost or other organic matter every square metre or yard and put a layer of sand into the base..
  • Put the cuttings into the ground or pot with two-thirds below the surface.The roots will form along the stem. A few buds remain above the ground to allow the plant to grow away in spring.
  • Where a single stemmed plant is aimed for, such as Populus or gooseberry,  leave only one bud above ground.
  • Put the cuttings in at 10-15cm (4-6in) spacing with 40cm (16in) between trenches.
  • Keep an eye on the trenches for frosts and firm up afterwards if necessary.
  • Leave them there until next autumn to make sure they get established through dry periods next summer

If you have only a few plants then put them into containers of gritty potting medium and keep them in an unheated greenhouse until next autumn making sure they don’t dry out.

Alternatively you can over winter plants like Cornus and Laburnum in pots and then plant them out as above  in the spring into a trench firming the soil round the cuttings.

This technique will work for

  • Most deciduous shrubs like Abelia, Deutzia, Buddleja (butterfly bush), Cornus (dogwood), Forsythia, Philadelphus (mock orange) Ribes (flowering currant), Rosa (rose), and Symphoricarpos and viburnums.
  • Climbers like: Vitis (vines), Lonicera (honeysuckle), Jasminum, and Parthenocissus.
  • Fruit, including: gooseberries, black, red and white currants as well as  fig and mulberry.
  • Trees, including: Platanus (plane), Populus (poplars) and Salix (willow)

Finally now is the time to take evergreen  cuttings like  Cotoneaster, Ilex (holly), Ligustrum (privet), Skimmia. But treat these like semi-ripe cuttings as we discussed a couple of posts ago..

4 thoughts on “How to take hardwood cuttings.

  1. Jon Meier

    If I use this method now (January), can I plant them into the soil before this coming Fall if I keep them watered and plant them in a good mixture?

  2. Jon Meier

    If I use this method now (January), can I plant them into the soil before this coming Fall if I keep them watered and plant them in a good mixture?

  3. Barb

    yes you can i took cuttings in the winter and planted them out right away and they all did very well its awesome i love it lots cheaper to

  4. Richard

    If I get my finger out this weekend – I guess there is still time to do it if the snow clears?

    To root them – I was going to try a mix of compost, soil, sand and wood/coal fire ash. About 50/20/20/10. What do you reckon?

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