Hardwood cuttings are taken when a tree or shrub is dormant during the winter months or early spring. They are often used for grafting onto similar plants. Grafting means that a cutting is attached to another plant in a way that it begins to grow along with the plant. It is used as a means of attaching a part of one plant with desirable characteristics to another plant. For example, a pecan tree may have a root system resistant to a certain root disease, but it produces low quality pecans. A cutting from a pecan tree that produces high quality pecans can be grafted onto the tree so the eventual tree that grows produces good pecans and is disease-resistant.
Make the cuttings as early in the morning as possible when the tree or shrub is hydrated. You will need to keep track of the top and bottom of the cutting for grafting purposes. Therefore, cut the bottom of the cutting at an angle and the top of the angle straight across. As soon as the cutting is made, place the cutting in a container filled with water. Do not allow the cutting to dry out for any length of time.
Allow the cuttings to soak in the water in a cool dark place for 24 hours before storing, so the cuttings get fully hydrated.
Gather cuttings and wrap with a piece of garden twine, then wrap the bundle with damp paper towels or newspaper. Place the bundle of cuttings wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place in a cooler that has a temperature between 32 and 40 degrees F. The salad crisper section of a household refrigerator is a good location.
Check the cuttings once a week to be sure the towels remain damp and there is no mildew or fungus growing on the cuttings. If there is, dispose of the cuttings that are affected. Replace the paper towels with new paper towels dampened with fresh water and place the cuttings back in the plastic bag and then put them back in the cooler until needed. The cuttings should stay viable up to six weeks.