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How to propagate Cornus by taking hardwood cuttings

Last updated on April 28th, 2022

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If you have a Cornus, commonly known as Dogwood, and it’s growing successfully and you now want to plant more of them in your garden, you can always propagate them by taking hardwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings get their name because they are taken from the hard wood of the plant later in the season.

When should you take Cornus cuttings?

Hardwood cuttings are taken later in the season, usually in autumn but you can take Cornus cuttings in the spring too. The hardwood cutting is called such because it is already grown and is hard to the touch. If you feel it in your hand it should be hard from one end to the other, as opposed to semi-softwood cuttings or softwood cuttings that have a bit more flexibility on one part or all of the cutting.

It’s best to choose the wood that is at least one year old, straight, about the thickness of a pencil so if you prune your Cornus in spring every year this is the perfect time to use this waste material for cuttings as well.

Waste material from Cornus pruning that is perfect for cuttings.

How to take the cuttings

When taking cutting you can either plant them straight into the ground or plant them in pots. If you decide to plant them in pots first we recommend using something around 1 litre in size, however, you can use any size of pot you have lying around if needed. Use a mixture of compost and grit for improved drainage.

Step 1

Make a cut at the bottom of the cutting, near a set of buds. An angled cut is better and then dip the end in rooting hormone powder or gel. Using rooting powder or gel is not essential but can help improve the success rate.

Step 2

You want at least four sets of buds on every hardwood cutting you take, so trim them down to just above the 4th bud.

Step 3

Once that is done, push the cutting directly into the ground or into your pots. You can put two cuttings in each pot if you prefer. Having an angled cut when you first trim the hardwood cuttings is what makes the process much easier if you are putting them straight into the ground. The ground doesn’t have to be very loose but obviously, you don’t want it to be too compact either.

Step 4

Push the stem down until it is between the second and third bud so that two buds are underneath the soil that can produce roots and two buds are above the soil where the new growth will come from.

If you are growing the cuttings directly in the ground, you can grow them in a row or plant them sporadically, but wherever you place the cuttings make sure you leave them in place for a few months, or as long as it takes for them to form a good root system and establish themselves. We recommend lifting them the following autumn when they go dormant again.

By having multiple cuttings at the same time, you don’t have to worry when one or two don’t take because you’ll still have other cuttings that you can eventually transplant elsewhere in your garden.

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