How to take hard­wood cut­tings

Gardeners' World - - Hardwood Cuttings -

1 Stems should be ma­ture (not be bendy or soft) and have fin­ished grow­ing for the sea­son. On de­cid­u­ous shrubs and trees, their leaves should have fallen or be ready to. Choose a stem at least 50cm long and cut it just be­low a bud.


Cut stems into lengths about 15-18cm long. Tra­di­tion­ally, hard­wood cut­tings would have been up to 45cm long, but re­cent ex­per­i­ments have shown that shorter cut­tings work best. You should be able to make sev­eral cut­tings from one long stem. Make a slop­ing cut above a bud and then make the bot­tom cut 15-18cm be­low that, straight across the stem and just be­low an­other bud.


Choose a shel­tered cor­ner with free-drain­ing soil where you know the cut­tings can re­main undis­turbed un­til it’s time to trans­plant them. Fork over the soil to a fork’s depth, firm gen­tly then make a trench or a se­ries of lit­tle trenches to fit in with the space you have by push­ing a spade into the soil ver­ti­cally and pulling it for­ward slightly.


Line the bot­tom of the trench with coarse grit or sand to fa­cil­i­tate drainage.


Line up the cut­tings along the back of the trench, en­sur­ing two or three buds on each cut­ting pro­trude above the level of the soil, and fill in, firm­ing the soil gen­tly. Wa­ter well if the soil is dry, la­bel your cut­tings, then leave them alone.

Next steps

Check the cut­tings oc­ca­sion­ally to see if they need wa­ter­ing, or re­firm­ing if frost has lifted them. New shoots will ap­pear in spring, then, next au­tumn, when your cut­tings lose their leaves, they can be lifted and ei­ther trans­planted into their new homes or pot­ted up if they are in­tended as gifts.

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