Hardwood cuttings are a simple and reliable way of producing new plants from deciduous climbers, trees and shrubs.

Hardwood cuttings take their name from taking a cutting from the more mature stems that are fully dormant and not showing any soft, green or active growth. It should be firm and not be able to bend easily.

Types of cuttings

There are different types of cuttings that can be split into the following categories:

Straight cutting

Easy to take and the best way to create new shrubs and trees. Always cut above a bud to encourage new growth and simply cut straight across the stem. Buddleja, Forsythia and viburnums are among the shrubs that will root from a straight cut.

Heel cutting

A heel cutting is where a small strip of the stem from the parent branch that you taking the cutting from is included for rooting. Pyracantha, rosemary and lavender are shrubs that can be very difficult to root but a heel cutting increases the odds greatly. Try a heel cutting if straight cutting is failing to root.

Mallet cutting

A mallet cut is similar to a heel cut but instead of just a slither of the stem a short amount of the parent branch on either side of the stem of about 0.5 – 1cm. Again, like heel cutting it can help to encourage rooting on difficult to encourage shrubs and is particularly good for mahonia.

How to encourage root growth on a cutting

All cuttings should be dipped in rooting hormone powder, available from garden centres and placed cutting side down in a pot with compost. Water well and cover in a clear plastic bag. Place cuttings somewhere warm and bright but out of direct sunlight.

When to take hardwood cuttings

The best time to take cuttings is in Autumn or early Winter after leaves have fallen and the shrub or tree is dormant. Cuttings should then be left for a year.


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