Propagating Shrubs From Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings provide an easy and reliable method of plant propagation. We will be discussing its use with shrubs. Hardwood cuttings are taken in the dormant season from mid-autumn until late winter. With Deciduous trees, the ideal time is just after leaf fall or just before bud-burst in spring. Although this type of propagation may be slow to develop roots, it is usually successful. So let’s read on to learn more about hardwood cuttings.

Hardwood Versus Softwood Cuttings

We like making hardwood cuttings; it is a simple propagation technique to make more plants, mainly the shrubs in your landscape. Since these cuttings went dormant with no leaves, there is not a requirement to provide a high humidity environment as with softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings require correct lighting and humidity conditions. It is a technique that is more labor-intensive. It needs constant attention and must never dry out. However, with hardwood cuttings, you “stick it in and let it sit until Spring!”

tools for hardwood cuttings
The tools needed to prepare hardwood cuttings are simple. Sharp pruning shears to make a clean cut, a trowl to make a trench and rooting hormone.

Making Hardwood Cuttings

Select vigorous and healthy shoots that are free of any disease.  Shoots should be close to pencil-thickness in diameter and from the current season’s growth.  They will be mature, woody, and dormant. Cut straight across at the base below a bud. At the top make an angled cut to shed water and as a reminder to tell which end is the top.  By the time you are done, the cuttings should be about six inches long.

An additional step that often helps difficult to root plants is to make a “wound” at the cutting’s base. Use a sharp knife here and remove the bark. The additional cut exposes more of the light green cambium under the bark. The cambium has meristematic tissue that will differentiate into roots.

Wet the end of the cutting and dip the lower cut end in a hormone rooting powder. The addition of the hormone promotes root formation; it also contains a fungicide that protects against rot.

picture of hardwood cuttings
Cuttings should be about 6 inches in length when complete. Make the bottom cut just below a bud.

Hardwood Cuttings In Containers

Insert the cuttings into a container with two-thirds of the cutting below the surface. As a medium, we use mason sand. The roots will form along the buried portion of the stem. A few buds remain above the ground to allow the plant to grow and leaf out in the spring. Hardwood cuttings are often grown outdoors, but depending on your region, you may require a cold frame. Even though hardwood cuttings take more time to develop roots, there is enough food stored in the stem to keep the cutting alive through the winter.

growing hardwood cuttings in containers
A) Make a trench in sand using a tool. B) Insert cuttings with root hormone about two inches into the sand. C) Finish by closing up the trench. D) Complete by filling the container with cuttings.






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