Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are a means of increasing stock of many hardy shrubs and trees.

Cuttings are generally taken between Oct-March when the plant is dormant, the earlier the better i.e. after leaf fall in the case of deciduous types, and before the first frosts for all types.

Use disease free cutting material, sharp secateurs or knife, and clean pots.

Cuttings can be rooted in pots, a cold frame or in the ground.

Select woody stems of pencil thickness (1) which have had a full growing season to mature.

Trim them (2) into sections 150-300mm (6”-12”) long for large trees and shrubs,and 50-75mm (2"-3") for smaller shrubs by cutting a sloping cut above a bud at the top, and straight across at the base.

The sloping cut stops water sitting on the top of the cutting, and also ensures that when planting, they are planted the correct way up.

The bottom cut will callus over during the winter and roots will emerge from it in spring.

1) Selected Cutting

2) Defoliated and Trimmed

3) Ready for rooting

Some species need warmth for a callus to form, these species should be rooted in the warmth of a greenhouse.

Select an area in the garden that is protected from the worst of the weather, and use a spade to create a V-shaped trench.

Fill the trench with sharp sand and insert each cutting (3) so that the lower two-thirds is buried.

Leave a few buds exposed to allow the plant to produce foliage in spring.

Alternatively, insert the cuttings (3) around the edge of a pot filled with gritty compost, leaving approximately 50mm (2") between each one, then place the pot in a cold frame to root.

The cuttings can generally be forgotten about until the following year as it can take up to 12 months for them to root.

Aftercare: periodically check the trench for any movement of the cutting/s that may have been caused by frost and or wind, and firm in if required.

Ensure the trench / pots do not dry out.

If it becomes apparent that some cuttings have rotted away remove them to reduce the chance of disease spreading to viable cuttings.

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