There is a kind of magic in making cuttings. Watching something as simple and unremarkable as a little twig come to life with roots and branches all of its own can only be fascinating to the gardener. Several weeks ago I planted my Winter Garden with various plants which included three red twig dogwoods (Cornus stolonifera). These little dogwoods were cuttings I made from another dogwood about a year ago. They were small little shrubs, but red twig dogwoods are vigorous growers in the right growing conditions (i.e. full sun and good moisture). Shortly after planting I went out to the garden and inspected it to find that a midnight raid by marauding rabbits had left multiple injuries to the dogwoods. The most irritating thing was that the rabbits didn’t eat any of the dogwoods. They just clipped the tips of several branches and left them behind to die. I thought to myself “if you’re going to dine on my plants at least have the courtesy to finish the meal!” At least that’s what I thought then.
I took the cuttings and treated them with rooting hormone on the off chance that I could make lemons out of lemonade. I suppose in this case it would be trees out of twigs. I kept the cuttings in sand for a couple weeks and just noticed new growth beginning a couple days ago. This is an excellent sign of rooting! The leaves are opening to get nourishment from the sun to generate new roots, stems, and leaves. Most likely the roots have already formed and are actively drinking up the water it needs for the growth process. I won’t chance checking any of the cuttings just yet as only two have leaves showing so far and I don’t want to disturb any roots that may have formed underneath until I am sure that the cuttings have had enough time to root.
You can see in the pictures that the little leaves that are just beginning to emerge. As the leaves develop and begin to absorb sunlight they will provide the cutting with more energy for growing stronger roots and more leaves.
While there is science behind this magical event it never fails to excite me when I see something new come alive. If it wasn’t for the rabbits I never would have taken the cuttings of the small red twig dogwoods. They had just better stay away from our tomatoes this spring!