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  • Cuttings explained

    How do hardwood cuttings work?  This brief explaination should give you a better understanding.  If we left anything out please leave a comment and let us know how to improve it!

    The term “cuttings” can cover a broad range of topics.  For the sake of this discussion we are talking about dormant, non-rooted “live stake” cuttings like the one pictured below.

    A 12″ Elderberry Cutting

    “Live Stake” cuttings can range from small 2 bud cuttings, as short as 3 or 4 inches to larger pole cuttings, as long as 6 feet.  The cuttings are relatively straight sections of the parent plant with all branches removed.  The cuttings have enough stored energy to supplement the development of roots and leaves until the new plant is self-sustaining.

    Regardless of their size, cuttings are planted with one or more buds exposed (make sure the buds point UP!).  From these buds, the cutting will begin to develop upper leafy growth.

    Elderberry breaking buds

    Buds on an Elderberry beginning to open.

    The buds (nodes technically) below ground will develop roots.

    root development on a willow cutting

    Root development on a willow shrub.


    The process of root development and leaf growth rapidly progresses allowing the cutting to become established in a single growing season.

    1st year Black Elderberry growth.

    Cuttings will develop into full sized mature plants in 2 or 3 growing seasons.  Initial year growth will range from 12” – 24” on species like dogwoods, arrow wood, and ninebark.  Growth of 10’+ for hybrid poplars and willows can easily be expected with proper site preparation and care.  It isn’t uncommon for fruiting species to produce fruit in their 2nd growing season!

    Hardwood cuttings are easy to grow, inexpensive, and a blast to watch come to life.  Give them a try today!

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