Taking hardwood cuttings

How to take hardwood cuttings

Discover how to propagate woody perennials like forsythia and cornus from hardwood cuttings.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

Hardwood cuttings are taken from woody perennials e.g. forsythia, cornus and willow in autumn and winter.

They can take several months to produce roots, so leave them for a year before lifting and potting up or transplanting.

Take a look at our simple steps on how to take hardwood cuttings.

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You Will Need

  • Secateurs
  • Spade
  • Sharp sand or grit
  • Hormone rooting powder

Step 1

Removing a pencil-thick stem
Removing a pencil-thick stem

Look for well-ripened, pencil-thick shoots and remove them horizontally below a node, leaf joint or bud, using secateurs.

Step 2

Removing the shoot tip
Removing the shoot tip

Prepare each cutting by removing the shoot tip just above a bud, and trimming the bottom just below another bud. Trim the cuttings to roughly 20cm in length.

Step 3

Inserting cuttings into compost
Inserting cuttings into compost

If you have a rooting compound, dip each cutting into it before planting. Insert the cuttings roughly 10cm deep into a pot filled with loam-based cuttings compost and overwinter them in a cold frame. Keep the cuttings watered and shoots should start to appear next spring. Leave plants for at least 12 months before transplanting.

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Propagating hedges

If you are propagating a whole hedge you can place lots of cuttings in a slit trench in a sheltered nursery bed. Line a 15cm-deep trench with a layer of horticultural sand and insert the cuttings, spacing them 5cm apart.

Boots. Photo: Getty Images.