Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation A How To

Today I’m going to talk about Hardwood Cutting Propagation or Winter Plant Propagation.  This is basically a ‘how to’ of rooting cuttings in the winter time with very little effort.  But first, let’s talk a little terminology.

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Here’s the terminology You’ll Need to Know.

Softwood Cutting

Let’s start with softwood cuttings.  Softwood cuttings are cuttings off of this year’s growth on a plant that is only a month or two old.  It grew this year, usually starting in the spring and is sometimes still a little green.  When you bend the two ends of this stick it will snap, but doesn’t look very woody.  If it just bruises and bends, it is too soon to use and it needs to sit longer.

Semi-Softwood Cutting

The next wood type is semi-softwood and it is a cutting that was taken from this year’s growth on a plant that is three months old or older, but before the leaves fall off.  It grew this year, usually starting in the spring and the wood is usually changing to the color of the other branches on the bush. When you bend the two ends of this stick it will snap and usually looks quite woody.

Hardwood Cutting

Last, we have hardwood cuttings.  These are taken from the previous springs new growth, but growth that is less than one year old.  It is taken when the plant is dormant, which is when the leaves have fallen in the winter.


An internode is a point on a plant that has leaves, branches, buds, or tendrils coming out.

Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Before you Begin

Make sure you are working with clean equipment.  Clean your clippers, shears, or whatever you are using to cut the wood with.  I use hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol on a paper towel to wipe down the cutting edges.  Doing this will make sure you do not spread disease or pathogens between plants.

Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Now Make the Cut

On the hardwood cutting, near the bottom of the wood that you are dealing with, make a clean cut about 1/8” below the bottom internode.  Then come up at least 3 internodes and make cut about 1” above that internode.  The number of internodes will vary by plant type.  The first plant I did was muscadine grapes and I did three internodes and the cuttings were about four inches.  I pushed them 1 inch into the ground leaving 3 inches out.

Next up was elderberry.  Three internodes on an elderberry was about 18” long.  This plant was pushed into the ground about two and a half to three inches.

The last plant in this exercise was blueberry.  In order to get a four-inch cutting, I had to leave 9 internodes.  Rooting hormone was applied and it was pushed one inch into the ground.

Do you really need Rooting Hormone?

Questions about rooting hormone are common.  Most cuttings will do just fine without rooting hormone.  Other plants do much better with it.  In my experience, elderberries do not need rooting hormones.  They root very easily.  I have had a tough time with blueberry cuttings though.  So, I do use rooting hormone on blueberries with hardwood cuttings and have had pretty good luck.

There are Different Types of Rooting Hormone

There are two main types of rooting hormone.  They are liquid and powdered.  The liquid hormone is mixed with water and allows you to adjust concentration based on how much water you add.  The powdered hormone has to be bought in the concentration you want.

Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

With the liquid hormone, I follow the directions on the bottle.  You usually use a less concentrated amount on softwood and a more concentrated amount on hardwood cuttings.  I’ll include a link below to the type of liquid rooting hormone I buy online.

Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

With the powdered hormone, I buy whatever Home Depot or Lowes has and just dip the cuttings in it.

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Here is Where to Plant Them

Plant the cuttings where you want them to grow and don’t let them dry completely out.  You can put them in pots if you like, but pots can dry out pretty quick in the summer, so keep a close eye on the water in the heat of the summer.

There You Have It!

Well, there you have it!  A way to propagate your own plants cheaply at home.  This method has saved me thousands of dollars and will make me (hopefullyJ) thousands of dollars as I sell these plants at GreatEscapeNursery.com

Amazon Link

Here is the Amazon link to the liquid rooting hormone that I use:

The Video

Check out the video below titled Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation.

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