How to take hardwood cuttings

Increasing your shrubs

Hardwood cuttings are taken from shrubs in autumn and winter when the plants are dormant. These little sticks will take a while to grow but are a great (and almost free) way of increasing your shrubs. Some are easier than others so try a few different ones and see how they work. Try

  • Griselinia
  • Euonymus
  • Philadelphus
  • Privet
  • Forsythia
  • Laburnum
  • Hydrangea
  • Physocarpus
  • Ribes
  • Roses
  • Spirea
  • Cornus
  • WIllow
  • Weigela

Some (like willow) will root easily in a vase of water.

Hardwood cuttings of willow or salix ready for potting

Look for shoots about pencil thickness and remove them horizontally below a leaf joint or node, using secateurs. Prepare each cutting by removing the top just above a node, and trimming the bottom just below another bud. Trim the cuttings to roughly 20cm in length.

If you have a rooting compound, dip each cutting into it before planting. Insert the cuttings roughly 10cm deep into a pot filled with compost and overwinter them in a cold frame or a sheltered spot in your garden. Keep the cuttings watered and shoots should start to appear in spring. Lift the pot up and check underneath for signs of the roots growing. Leave plants for at least 12 months before transplanting.

Growing cuttings in water

It is better to propagate cuttings in soil, but some, like willow, will easily root in a vase of water. Leave the cuttings in the vase until the roots form and then very gently plant them into a pot of compost (or into the ground) so as not to break off the roots.

Hedges from hardwood cuttings

If you want to plant a whole hedge you can make a slit in the ground, the length of the hedge, add some grit to the bottom and line the cuttings up along the bottom. This works well with willow or cornus that grow very easily.