Use Your Raised Beds in Winter for Cuttings!

Use Your Raised Beds in Winter for Cuttings!

You have raised beds in your backyard ready to go for spring vegetables but over the winter what are they doing? Are they just sitting there?  I’m sure this idea has occurred to some of you before.  Why not use the raised beds over the winter to propagate a few plants?  The amazing thing is that this can work so well!  It’s easy to do, requires very little time, and very little maintenance.

The other day I took about 30 cuttings of ‘Leyland’ cypress, about 7-8 ‘Otto Luyken’ cherry laurel cuttings, and several hydrangea cuttings then placed them in a vacant raised bed. I don’t expect them all to root (that would be great if they did) but with the ease of this technique I don’t need them all to root to be worth the 15 minutes it took to stick the cuttings.

These cuttings were all taken during their dormant period. I’m hoping that by spring there will be roots actively growing that will allow me to transplant the new plants to new homes.

To Take Cuttings of Leyland Cypress:
  • I selected 1st year growth from healthy trees.
  • Selected cuttings about 7-9 inches in length.
  • Stripped off the lower leaves from the cuttings.
  • Last I Stuck the cuttings in the moist soil.

As long as out winter continues to be as wet as it has been the cuttings won’t need much help at all.

The cuttings of the ‘Otto Luyken’ cherry laurel were treated in much the same way as the ‘Leyland’ cypress cuttings in the box to the left.  The difference was in the size of the cuttings – the laurel cuttings were only about 6 inches in height.  

The hydrangea cuttings came from hardwood and were about 5 inches long.  I didn’t use any rooting hormone for these cuttings but often I do to help speed rooting along.

Now please be careful with planting Leyland cypress trees.  While they can make beautiful fast growing hedges and borders that can suffer from two significant issues that make them a short lived tree.  One is the bagworm.  An infestation of bagworms can decimate a tree if you allow it to continue and they will work down the line very methodically. To remove bagworms pick them off during the dormant season before they have a chance to lay eggs.  This is mainly for small infestations.  Larger infestations need chemical treatments.  If you are looking for an organic solution try a Bt solution (Bacillus thuringiensis) when the larvae are young.

The other issue ‘Leyland’ cypress trees have is their susceptibility to disease.  ‘Leyland’ cypress are sterile and require vegetative propagation to make more.  This means that they are all clones and have the same DNA.  Since they can’t reproduce or hybridize they will never be able to develop a species resistance to diseases.  For an in depth look at some of the diseases effecting ‘Leyland’ cypress visit this webpage from North Carolina State University.

What have you been propagating lately?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. What a meaty post with such directions. Nice work.

  2. This is all new to me but I'm working on it, so I'm sorry this is so basic… What exactly is a cutting? Do you just cut from anywhere on any branch? Anything I should know? Thanks!!

  3. Great idea and article! I don't have raised beds, but I do have some large empty pots with the perfect medium for rooting:)

    I seem to recall from my Master Gardener classes that another organic method of control for bagworms was a dormant oil spray… But at this point it's merely hearsay:)

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