Home Gardening Hardwood Cuttings: A Beginner’s Guide to Propagating Plants

Hardwood Cuttings: A Beginner’s Guide to Propagating Plants

by Gregory
4 minutes read

Hardwood Cuttings: A Beginner’s Guide


Hardwood cuttings are a simple and cost-effective way to propagate new plants from existing ones. They are typically taken from dormant, woody stems in winter and rooted in soil or water.

Benefits of Hardwood Cuttings

  • Free plants: Hardwood cuttings are a great way to get new plants for free.
  • Easy to do: Taking hardwood cuttings is a simple process that can be done with basic tools.
  • Dormant plants: Hardwood cuttings are taken from dormant plants, which means they are less likely to wilt or die.
  • Establish quickly: Hardwood cuttings develop roots quickly and can be transplanted to their permanent location in spring or fall.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Secateurs or sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • Potting mix or rooting medium
  • Pots or containers
  • Labels

Choosing the Right Plants

Hardwood cuttings can be taken from a wide variety of plants, including:

  • Deciduous shrubs: Abelia, buddleia, cornus (dogwoods), deutzia, forsythia, hydrangea, philadelphus, ribes (flowering currant), salix (willows), spiraea, viburnum, and weigela.
  • Evergreens: Cotoneaster, holly, and privet.
  • Climbers: Honeysuckle (Lonicera), jasmine, Hydrangea petiolaris, roses, and vines (Vitis and Parthenocissus).
  • Fruit bushes: Blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, figs, gooseberries, and mulberries.

When to Take Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are typically taken in late fall or winter, when the plants are dormant. This is because the plants are less likely to wilt or die during this time.

How to Take Hardwood Cuttings

  1. Choose healthy stems: Select stems that are woody, still green inside, and as thick as a pencil. Avoid soft, spindly growth.
  2. Cut the stem: Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle, just below a leaf node. The cutting should be 6-8 inches long.
  3. Remove leaves: Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
  4. Dip in rooting hormone (optional): Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone to encourage root growth.
  5. Plant the cutting: Plant the cutting in a pot or container filled with potting mix or rooting medium. The cutting should be buried about 2 inches deep.
  6. Water and label: Water the cutting and label it with the plant name and date.

Caring for Hardwood Cuttings

  • Keep the soil moist: Water the cuttings regularly, but avoid overwatering.
  • Provide humidity: Cover the cuttings with a cloche or plastic bag to increase humidity.
  • Protect from cold: If the weather is cold, move the cuttings to a sheltered location.
  • Be patient: Hardwood cuttings can take several weeks or months to root.

Transplanting Hardwood Cuttings

Once the cuttings have rooted, they can be transplanted to their permanent location in spring or fall.

  • Harden off the plants: Gradually expose the cuttings to outdoor conditions for a few weeks before transplanting.
  • Dig a hole: Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep.
  • Plant the cutting: Place the cutting in the hole and backfill with soil.
  • Water and mulch: Water the cutting and spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant.

Tips for Success

  • Use sharp tools to make clean cuts.
  • Take cuttings from healthy, vigorous plants.
  • Keep the cuttings moist but not soggy.
  • Provide humidity to prevent the cuttings from drying out.
  • Be patient and don’t give up if the cuttings don’t root right away.

With a little care and attention, you can successfully propagate new plants from hardwood cuttings.

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