It's the perfect time to take hard wood cuttings | Brian Kidd

Now is the perfect time to take hard wood cuttings of plants such as forsythia.
Now is the perfect time to take hard wood cuttings of plants such as forsythia.
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Do you like propagating plants? Lots of people like to do this and believe it or not, this is an ideal time to take what we call hard wood cuttings. I still find rooting cuttings gives me a lot of pleasure.

Perhaps you have a wonderful forsythia bush, a climbing rose, a camellia or a really good rhododendron which you cherish?

Would you love to get one of these to root so you can give it to your best friend?

It’s not easy but if you follow this advice you will have a good chance of getting the cuttings to root and increasing your plant stock or… your circle of friends!

Autumn cuttings are called hard wood cuttings and hard wood cuttings can be taken right now.

The wood which is to be propagated needs to be about the thickness of a pencil and about 10 to 12 inches long. Good examples are forsythia, rambling roses and cornus.

Here is the secret...

Take off all the leaves except the top frill.

Make a clean cut just below a node (leaf joint) and insert the cuttings into the soil after using a top dressing of about a quarter of an inch of sharp sand over the surface of the soil.

The cuttings need to be thrust into the pot deeply.

Insert them so only two inches of the cutting is above the surface of the soil.

If you live in a flat, insert the cuttings into a 10in-diameter pot.

Camellia cuttings need not be 10 to 12 inches long. They will root better if the cuttings are about six to eight inches long.

And here, instead of cutting below a node as described for all the others, simply pull off a side shoot so it has what we call a heel.

You will see the heel has a slither of bark. Look at the back of the heel and you will see the central part has a heart-shaped woody part.

Now, using a sharp knife, cut the excess skin back to that woody heart, remove all the leaves apart from the top pair and the tip and insert the cuttings so the leaves are just above the compost’s surface. Soak the pot in rain water.

A polythene bag is then placed over the pot and the cuttings ensuring the leaves don't touch the polythene. If they do there's a chance that condensation within the bag will cause the cuttings to rot.

Three short split canes can be used to form a kind of tent by resting the bag on the canes above the cuttings.

Camellia cuttings are best rooted in a cold greenhouse or if you have a plant propagator, this would be even

better but it really is not essential.

What about root hormone rooting powder, I hear you ask? Use it if it makes you feel better!

Keep the cuttings moist and once they root –  this will happen in the early spring –  pot each one into a three-inch diameter pot and plant them where you would like to see them grow.

Or perhaps you have a friend, or even several friends, who would like one?


Before lighting any bonfires, please check there no hedgehogs asleep in the base. Even if you live in a densely populated area, hedgehogs may have chosen your garden to hibernate for the winter.