Growing Plants from Hardwood Cuttings

I’ve always been one to enjoy experimenting with plant propagation in the garden. This past weekend, since the weather was so pleasant, I went on  hardwood cutting spree.  Hardwood cuttings are very easy to do. The success rate varies quite a lot depending on the type of plants you are trying to propagate. I took around 40-50 cuttings of 4 types of Japanese maples, red trig dogwood, peach trees, viburnums, and hydrangeas.

How to Make Hardwood Cuttings

Taking hardwood cuttings is a very simple procedure. Just follow these general steps below and if you have questions just leave a comment in the comment section!

When to Take Hardwood Cuttings: Hardwood cuttings should be taken after the plants have gone dormant which usually happens after a hard freeze. 

You need a few things to get started: Container, Propagation Medium, Rooting Hormone, Sharp Pruners or Knife, Water, and of course the material you want to propagate!

For my cuttings I chose a sand medium. Other mediums like perlite, vermiculite, or peat would work also. For the maple and red twig dogwood I took cuttings that were about 4-5 nodes in length. For the hydrangea I only used single node cuttings and made my cuts just above the node below for the top node of the cutting. Hydrangeas will root along the stem just fine so there is no need to have more than one node on a cutting. (The nodes are the growing points on the stem where leaves sprout.) I shaved a small edge off of the base of each cutting down to the cambian layer of bark. This should improve water and rooting hormone uptake into the cutting. Then I dipped the cutting into rooting hormone, stuck it in the pot of sand, and gently watered. I put the cuttings on the floor of my greenhouse which offers some winter protection.

Taking hardwood cuttings

Also don’t forget to label your cuttings as you may forget the specific variety over time!

Japanese Maple Hardwood Cuttings

Japanese maple cuttings
Japanese maple cuttings.

Propagating Japanese maples is usually best done through grafting to achieve the exact type of plant you are wanting. Another alternative is to propagate them from seed in which case you can follow these procedures: Propagating Japanese maples from seed. This winter I thought I would try and see if these varieties of Japanese maples would be possible to root. Getting the trees rooted is only the first step toward success. Getting a plant that will survive on its own roots is the end goal. 4-5 nodes per cutting.

Peach Tree Hardwood Cuttings

Peach trees root fairly well from hardwood cuttings but also tend to be grafted onto rootstock that can offer them other benefits. When grafted peach trees can demonstrate better resistance to insects or disease. Grafting is also how dwarf and semi dwarf trees are created which can be more suitable for home gardens. 3-5 nodes per cutting.

Red Twig Dogwood Cuttings

Red Twig dogwood cuttings.

Red twig dogwoods root very easily from hardwood cuttings and are beautiful plants to add to the landscape. For them late fall and winter hardwood cuttings are ideal. 4-5 nodes per cutting but will root with less.

Hydrangea Hardwood Cuttings

Hydrangeas root easily from hardwood cuttings or from greenwood cuttings.  1 node per cutting.

Peach, viburnum, and two varieties of Hydrangea cuttings.

Viburnum Hardwood Cuttings

Deciduous viburnums usually root best from greenwood cuttings but will root from hardwood cuttings too. 2-3 nodes per cutting.

Hardwood Cutting After Care

The most critical thing for taking cuttings is to keep them properly moist. There can be a lot of ways to do this. Mist systems are very popular among professionals but home gardeners can tent their cuttings with plastic bags. You want the soil to maintain moisture but not so much that it creates fungal issues. Mist systems work well because they prevent leaves from transpiring moisture and that water is then retained better inside the cutting. You don’t need a mist system for hardwood cuttings. They are dormant and will continue to be dormant until they are ready to grow roots and leaves.

I highly recommend this book on plant propagation. It’s a great resource that I have used for years! Amazon Affiliate Link attached.

When they begin to show leaf growth check them for signs of roots by gently (very gently) tugging the stem. If you have resistance then you MAY have roots. It’s not a bad idea to wait longer than you think before transplanting to give them a little more time to root. If you remove your cuttings and there are no roots reapply rooting hormone and stick them again. If there is any rotting going on remove the cutting.

To remind myself to check them every couple days I set up a Google Calendar notification. That updates me on my phone so I have a convenient reminder to check on them every 2 days.

I hope this help you out this winter with your hardwood cuttings. Tell me what plants you are taking cuttings of in the comments!