How to propagate plants from hardwood cuttings
Winter is a time when there appears to be little activity in the garden, however, this is far from the case. Even deciduous plants such as hydrangeas, grapes and roses have an amazing capacity to regenerate into new plants. Making hardwood cuttings is one of the easiest and most effective methods of propagation for home gardeners. Wait until all the leaves have dropped off (or pull them off if you need to) and cut a 10 to 15 cm length of stem from the tops of the shoots. Scrape off a bit of bark about a cm in length at the base of the cutting with a knife or secateurs to encourage better root formation. If the plant is known to be difficult to strike from cuttings then apply a rooting hormone powder for hardwood cuttings to the base of the cutting. The cuttings can be planted straight into potting mix or even a well-drained position in the garden. As they have no leaves they will not be at risk of drying out.
Theory of hardwood cuttings
In most climates, as a tree or shrub moves from summer to winter, growth will cease entirely and the plant enters dormancy, primary and secondary growth have ceased altogether. Because of this very dormant condition, hardwood cuttings are the most resilient of the various types of stem cuttings and are very useful in situations where the you have minimal control over the propagation environment. In fact, many deciduous species can be done in outdoor beds as leafless hardwood cuttings that will strike in spring. The things to look for in hardwood cuttings are:
The stem is usually brown or dark in colour. The stem does not snap cleanly when bent.
For deciduous species, cuttings need to be taken after leaf fall in autumn.
The stem tip will have a terminal bud present.
Hardwood cuttings tend to be used infrequently in commercial operations these days because they take much longer to strike than the other cutting types. However, they are still very useful for propagators such as home gardeners who have minimal facilities. Another advantage is that they are usually taken in winter when there are very few other propagation tasks to be done.
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