How to Take a Hardwood Cutting

Hardwood cutting propagation is the most common form of cutting propagation image by Public Domain

Many shrubs can be raised from hardwood cuttings. These are taken from ripe, vigorous, current season's growth from mid-autumn to early winter. Hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs are taken just after the leaves have fallen. Cuttings propagated in this way are slow to root but, when cared for will produce strong, resilient plants in about a year.


Step 1

Prepare the equipment. Propagate hardwood cuttings in containers, in a cold frame, or even in open ground. To grow cuttings, you will need to dip the end of the cutting into hormone rooting powder, so have it ready nearby.

Step 2

Choose the plant to propagate through hardwood cutting. Hardwood cuttings are most productive when used in the propagation of deciduous shrubs, but can be used to propagate evergreens. Hardwood cutting propagation works on plants at the hardwood stage. Plants that can be propagated using the hardwood method include forsythia, privet, fig, grape and spirea.

Step 3

Decide which section to propagate. The three types of hardwood cuttings used to propagate are the straight cut, mallet cut and heel cut. The straight cut method is the most commonly used form of propagation stem cutting. Mallet and heel cuttings are often used for plants that have a history of being difficult to root. The heel cut is a small section of the original plant is included at the base of the new cutting. The mallet cutting includes a T-shaped section of the original plant.

Step 4

Take pencil-thick cuttings at the junction of the current year’s growth and last season's growth.

Step 5

Trim the cuttings to approximately 6 inch lengths. At the top, cut just above buds or leaves and at the base, cut just below buds or leaves.

Step 6

Make an angled cut at the top and cut straight across at the bottom. Then you will then know which way is up when you plant the cutting.

Step 7

Remove any remaining deciduous leaves. On evergreen cuttings, remove leaves from the lower two-thirds of the stem and cut large leaves in half across.

Step 8

Plant the cuttings. If propagating outside, plant cuttings 6 inches apart, in a trench 6 inches deep filled with compost and sharp sand. Backfill with soil and water in. Pack the soil firmly after heavy frosts and water during periods of drought.

Tips and Warnings

Always wear protective gloves and eye protection when taking cuttings.

Things You'll Need

Root hormone, Plant , Container

About this Author

Richard Sweeney is a former educator and now freelance writer living on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He has been writing since 1995 publishing articles in national publications such as "Men's Outlook Journal" and "Travel". Sweeney left the education profession in 2007 but likes to remain knowledgeable about current policies and teaching techniques.

Photo by: Public Domain