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Shrubs For Free

One of the easiest and most successful methods of increasing your stock of shrubs is by hardwood cuttings.  Use your own plants or those of your friends (the cutting process will cause very little damage), to propagate almost all deciduous shrubs including the following:

Cornus (dogwood)


When and How
November to January is the ideal time for hardwood cuttings. This season's leaves have (or are) fallen off, and the plant has not yet started to form next year's leaf buds. This is the time when the plant has the most potential for producing roots from hardwood cuttings.


picture 1 - deciduous shrub cuttings

The first step is to select a stem from the plant. Look for a health stem about 30cm (1 foot) long from near the base of the plant. 

The stem should include at least three buds (see picture on left). Stems should have been produced from early in the year (i.e. they are fully mature). If immature stems are selected (i.e. those produced later in the year), the cutting is liable to rot.

Cut the stem from the plant using a sharp knife or secateurs.


The next step is to correctly trim cutting. Firstly, ensure that you are holding the cutting the correct way up! In other words ensure that the buds are pointing upwards. Make a sloping cut just above the selected top bud. Make a horizontal cut juts below the selected bottom bud. 

In the picture to the right, this gives us three buds (top middle and bottom), with a length of about 15 cm (6 inches).

picture 2 - deciduous shrub cuttings


Rooting compound can be applied to the base of the cutting, although with hardwood cuttings this is not really necessary.


picture 3 - deciduous shrub cuttings

Finally, choose a small patch of soil which is not over-exposed to the winter weather (near a wall or hedge is ideal), then dig it over with a trowel. Simply push the cutting into the earth about half or two thirds down and gently firm the soil down around the cutting. Note the the name of the plant on a marker tag and insert that next to cutting.

The picture on the left shows only one cutting, however several can be inserted near another, just ensure they are not touching.

The cuttings should remain undisturbed until next autumn, by which time they should have rooted sufficiently well for them to be transplanted to their final position.