secateurs making a cutting

How to take softwood cuttings

Propagate woody herbs and ornamental shrubs, like hydrangeas, from softwood 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 not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

It’s easy to create more plants for your garden without having to fork out at the garden centre. Take softwood cuttings from your ornamental shrubs and woody herbs, and you can boost stocks for free.

Softwood cuttings should be taken during June and July. Choose strong, current season’s shoots, as they have the potential to root quickly and rapidly grow into new plants. The hydrangea shoots (pictured above) are perfect.

Taking cuttings is simple and easy, and a cost effective method of filling gaps in beds and borders. It’s also a great way to replace dead shrubs, or to create gifts for friends and family.

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You Will Need

  • Shrubs, to take cuttings from
  • Secateurs
  • Sharp knife
  • Good quality compost
  • 7cm pots
  • Thin canes or rods
  • Polythene bag

Total time:

Step 1

Remove shoots, longer than the finished cutting, just above a leaf on the parent plant.

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Step 2

Aim to make a cutting not more than 10cm long. Use a sharp knife to cut just below a leaf joint and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.

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Step 3

Reduce leaf area by half to minimise water loss from the cutting.

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Step 4

You may wish to dip the base of the cutting in hormone rooting powder, tapping off any excess. Using rooting hormone increases the rooting speed and successof the cutting, but it isn’t essential.

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Step 5

Insert cuttings into 7cm pots of moist cuttings compost, keeping lower leaves just above compost level.

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Step 6

Push in thin canes around the pot, then cover with a clear polythene bag held in place with an elastic band. Place cuttings in a warm position, out of direct sun, to root.

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Plants to take softwood cuttings from