Fruit for free - soft fruit


Learn how to make new healthy young plants of blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries using this simple propagation technique for hardwood cuttings in prepared beds.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Late Autumn
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Choose the correct tool for the job
  • Learn how plants can be propagated
  • Select and grade plant material and cut according to size

Essential background information


Prepare an area of the garden for the cuttings – remove weeds, fork lightly, dig a trench and line the bottom with grit if heavy, clay soil. 


  • Healthy currant or gooseberry bushes
  • Secateurs (adults to supervise)
  • Tape measure or ruler and string
  • Bed for planting in or deep and long 2litre (min) pots, compost and grit
  • Labels and pencils
  • Gloves, thick ones if using gooseberries
  • Pencil thick willow stems for practice

Step by step

  1. Look at fruit bushes. Point out healthy young stems that are pencil thickness for currant bushes and half as thick for gooseberries. Ask the pupils to identify a suitable cutting and tie a string on the stem.
  2. Take the fruit bush cutting; for blackcurrants measure 20 - 25cm, for redcurrants 30cm and for gooseberries 25 - 30cm. Make a sloping cut at the tip end, just above a bud and a horizontal cut at the base, just below a bud.
  3. Cut off any weak tip growth. Remove buds along the cutting length by rubbing them gently, but leave the top 3 or 4 buds in place.
  4. Insert the cutting into the prepared soil, leaving the top 2 buds above ground. Repeat with further cuttings leaving 20cm between them. Remember to label the rows.
  5. In spring the cuttings will show signs of life with new leaves and stems. Keep watered and weed-free all spring and summer. In the autumn lift and move to new position or pot up into large pots for sale.

Hints & tips

  • Practise taking cuttings on willow stems of a similar thickness. With the growing tip upwards make a sloping cut at the top of the cutting and a horizontal cut at the bottom.

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