Gardening Magazine

Gardening Guide - Taking Hardwood Cuttings

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk
Gardening guide - Taking Hardwood CuttingsHardwood cuttings of WillowHardwood cuttings are an easy and inexpensive way to increase stocks of woody plants including many trees, shrubs, climbers, fruit bushes and even roses. Hardwood cuttings are best taken in the autumn as the leaves fall from the ‘mother plant’ (plant used for propagation). Left in the ground in nursery rows or in large pots, they will root through the winter and will be ready to plant out in late spring or early summer.


Hardwood cuttings are especially useful where a number of plants are required, for example to create a drift of coloured stemmed Willows (Salix) or Dog Woods (Cornus), or to create a hedge. Of course, it’s also a great way to increase plants for friends or to sell at local fetes and open gardens!  


What do I need?

Secateurs Gloves Cutting material Large pots - 2 liter size is ideal Multipurpose compost 
Gardening guide - Taking Hardwood Cuttings
Sloping cut above a bud - top of cutting.
Coarse grit Plant labels Pencil


How to take the cuttings

  • Choose straight, upright pieces of material. The cuttings taken from material growing sideways or trailing may develop with a bad growing habit, making it difficult to create a well shaped plant.
  • The cuttings should be the width of a pencil or larger and the wood should be hard with little flexibility.
  • Choose material that is ‘true to type’. This will ensure that you get a plant that looks exactly like the ‘mother plant’.
  • Make the cuttings by using the piece nearest the severed end first. Make a straight cut on a ‘node’ (leaf joint). This is the bottom of your cutting.
  • Make a sloping cut on a node 20cm to 30cm above the base of the cutting. This is the top of your cutting.
  • By making a sloping cut at the top of the cutting, you will know which way up it is! It’s easy to distinguish the polarity of some species by looking at the buds, but some have very smooth bark.
  • Making a sloping cut at the top of the cutting also allows rain to run off which may help to prevent rotting. 
  • Insert your cuttings into a pot or into the ground so that half of the cutting is buried.
  • Label the cuttings with the plant name and date.

Gardening guide - Taking Hardwood Cuttings
What next?

  • Once the cuttings have started to produce leaves and grow away, they can be lifted and planted in their permanent positions or potted up.
  • If the cuttings were put into a pot, wait until you see roots appearing through the bottom of the pot, then tip the whole lot out and pot on individually or plant out.
  • Remember to prune your plants regularly through the summer to create a good shape.
Many soft fruit bushes can be raised in this way including Currants and Gooseberries, so it is ideal to increase your stocks for the allotment. Climbers, including Honeysuckles and Winter Flowering Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) can also be rotted easily. Winter Jasmine will also layer itself by producing roots from the growing tips when they touch the ground.


Why not try some hardwood cuttings for yourself?

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