Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood Cuttings, shrub division, bulb division, groundcover division

Hardwood Cuttings

Learn how do take hardwood cuttings from your woody plants.

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Hardwood Cuttings are the stems of woody plants, which are cut when the plant is dormant, which is usually in late winter

Hardwood Cuttings is a great way to propagate some of our best loved plants. Some plants are a bit more receptive to hardwood cuttings than others. Some of the easier varieties include:

Late Blooming Lilacs

Mock Orange


Flowering Crabs

Thriving Perennial Garden

Hardwood Cuttings - Making the Cut

Hardwood Cuttings - Making The Cut

Here is how you do it:

The cutting should be taken in midwinter, when the plant is dormant.

The best place for the bottom cut of the branch would be 1/4" to 3/8" below and eye or a node. This is where the root will start and even though you theoretically cut anywhere along the stem, your root system will be more robust at this location.

It is best to cut with a very sharp garden shears. Here at Green Living Made Easy we prefer the Falco pruning shears. It is a bit more expensive, but if you buy one you will have it for life - if you don't leave it outside however. :-)

Cut the branch at about a 30 degree angle or so. This will give more surface area for the cut to dust. Another advantage to making the bottom cut angled is that it is very easy to tell which side is up!

Hardwood Cuttings - Final Cuts

Cuts should be between 8" and 12" long.

Once you have made the angled or basil cuts, as they are called, you should nip off the growing but or tip of the cutting.

This will direct more energy to the development of root growth, rather than wasting energy on top growth.

Pop The Clump Out Of The Ground

Hardwood Cuttings - Bundling Cuttings

Hardwood Cuttings - Tips for Success
    Cuttings from deciduous plants can be taken as soon as the plant has dropped its leaves. Wait until early winter to take cuttings from needle or broadleaf evergreens

    To avoid spreading disease, clean your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) before using them in a new area.

    Protect the donor plant by using only sharp tools, making all of your cuts just above a leaf node (so you don't leave stubs that will die back), and taking no more than 1/20 (5%) of the branches for cuttings.

    Select young, straight shoots growing up from the center of the plant or from near the ground, as these usually root better than those taken from other regions.

    Take shoots that are at least the diameter of a pencil (except snowberry, which can be thinner). Collect long branches– you will be dividing them into individual cuttings later.

    Cuttings can stay outside over the winter, but they should be protected from freezing, wind, and full sunlight. Cuttings from needle and broadleaf evergreens need to be kept under plastic and misted at least once a day to keep them from losing too much moisture through their leaves.

    Cuttings from deciduous plants can be left exposed to the rain, but need to be in containers that drain well; if kept inside, they need to be kept in a spot that is cool and humid. By the end of their first growing season, most cuttings should be well-established and ready to plant.

Decide How Many Divisions You Would Like

Hardwood Cuttings - Rooting Hormone

Hardwood Cuttings - Group Your Cutting Together in Bundles

As you take the cuttings, bundle them together with the basil cuts all in the same direction. Get cutting from one plant species at a time so you keep things straight and organized.

You can use a few large rubber bands wrapped rather loosely around the bundle.

Dust the bottom ends (angled cuts) with a rooting hormone such as Rootone or Hormodin.

Place some moist vermiculite in a plastic bag. Place the cuttings with the rooting hormone end into the bag, trying to keep the rooting hormone form rubbing off.

Tie the bag with string or wrap a rubber band around the bag to secure it to the cuttings.

Store the bags in a cool, frost-free basement or cellar with the basil cut ends pointing downward.


Hardwood Cuttings - Plant Type: Solid Clump Plants

The cuttings should be stored this way until early spring.

Remove them from the bag. Check the rooting hormone. If need be, re-dip them in the Rootone or Hormodin again to make sure they have a good coating.

Prepare a bed of sandy-soil that is deeply prepared to about 12 -18". Use a wooden dowel or other stick to make a hole in the soil, so about 1/2 of the cutting will be buried.

Take the cutting and place it in the hole with the rooting hormone side down, into the hole. Lightly pack the soil around the cutting.

Keep the cuttings well watered for at least a couple of weeks. Most should show signs of growth about this time.

Some species do take longer and resist the cutting process, so be patient. You will not see the same results on your cuttings as for the rooted plants.

Hardwood Cuttings - Plant Table

Here are some common plants that are receptive to Hardwood Cuttings:


Plant SW S-HW HW
Abelia X X  
Althea (Rose of Sharon) X   X
Arborvitae   X X
Azalea   X  
Barberry X   X
Bittersweet X   X
Boxwood   X  
Butterfly bush X   X
Clematis X    
Cotoneaster X   X
Crepe myrtle X    
Deutzia X   X
Dogwood   X  
Euonymus X X X
Forsythia X   X
Hawthorn X   X
Holly   X  
Honeysuckle (bush) X   X
Honeysuckle (vining) X   X
Hydrangea X    
Juniper     X
Kerria X   X
Lilac X    
Magnolia X   X
Mahonia (grape holly)   X  
Mock orange X   X
Poplars     X
Privet X   X
Pyracantha   X  
Rhododendron   X X
Rose X   X
Spirea X   X
Sweetshrub X   X
Viburnum X   X
Weigela X    
Willows     X
Wisteria     X
Yew     X