How to take hardwood cuttings

How to…

Follow these easy steps to take hardwood cuttings of woody plants.

  • Estimated time: 15 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: Late Autumn, Early Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed


Hardwood cuttings are a form of vegetative propagation and are an easy way of reproducing woody plants such as willow, dogwoods and soft fruits. This method is best from Dec-March when the plant is dormant and before the buds have opened. You will need compost and perlite or coarse grit, tall plant pots, clean and sharp secateurs, and labels.

  1. Select the plant material to take your cuttings. The stems should be around pencil thickness.

  2. Choose a stem and where it is pencil thick make a sloping cut above a bud. By doing this it shows which end is the top of the cutting and allows water to run off easily once in a pot.

  3. Count 3-4 buds down towards the base and make a straight cut across just below a bud. This is the bottom of the cutting.

  4. Mix the compost and perlite and ensure you have written the plant name on the label.

  5. Fill the pot with compost, tapping the pot on your work surface to remove air pockets, and insert the cuttings until only one bud is showing above the surface. Allow 5-6 cuttings per pot.

  6. Water the cuttings and place them in a sheltered area, cold frame or polytunnel. Pot on the cuttings in separate pots once they have rooted.

Additional information

  • Ensure there is adult supervision and gloves are worn when using sharp tools.
  • Gloves can be worn when handling composts.
  • It will take between 3-5 months for the cuttings to root so ensure that they are watered throughout the summer months so that they don’t dry out.
  • For more details about propagation and the different techniques; click here.