It’s really cold and snowy here in northern Ohio in December so that means no gardening right?
Wrong! Here’s at Mike’s Plant Farm we have been crazy busy making and sticking cuttings.
Indoors right? Nope! Outside.
A bed full of hardwood cuttings.
The bed on left are cuttings Hardwood Cuttings that we’ve stuck between November 15th and December 10th. These are known as hardwood cuttings and we have to wait for them to go completely dormant before we can even start doing them. Typically with hardwood cuttings you can start them after you have experienced a good, hard freeze.
A hard freeze is a not a frost or even a heavy frost. It’s a night when the temperatures dip down below 28 degrees and stays there for a few hours. I use the Donkey’s Water Bucket as my freeze gauge. When I come in in the morning and their drinking water has frozen over I know that we have finally gotten the hard freeze that I am always looking for after November 15th. That’s usually when it occurs.
I also know that it’s now time to change out the donkeys summer water bucket to their winter water bucket. The winter bucket has a built in heater that keeps their water from freezing.
Once we get the hardwood freeze that we need to start our hardwood cuttings we usually go like crazy trying to get them all done before it gets so cold that we can no longer stick them outside. This year the weather was fairly reasonable after the hard freeze and we got a lot of them done, but last Thursday, December 8th, it was pretty cold and we had to actually remove about 2″ of soil from the top of the buckets because it was too frozen to work with. Some of our hardwood cuttings we stick in big pots once the bed of sand gets full.
Yes, we root most of cuttings in coarse sand.
Rooted and unrooted cuttings. This is where they will spend the winter.
The bed to the far left are the hardwood cuttings that we just stuck. The bed next to those are softwood cuttings that we stuck in August, they are all rooted. The bed to the far right are cuttings that we stuck in June of 2015. They are still in the bed because we just don’t have room to pot them up until spring. And the bed to the middle right are cuttings that we stuck in June of 2016.
You can see how much the cuttings actually grow while still in the propagation beds. Once the root through the sand into the soil below I won’t disturb them until they are dormant because it will shock them. Here you can see us removing cuttings just like this.
Golden Curls Willow hardwood cuttings.
Sometimes we stick our hardwood cuttings in big buckets like this filled with potting soil. This buckets also just sit outside like you see here. Come late spring, early summer, the cuttings are rooted. Not 100%, but 85% or so can be expected.
Not all plants do well as hardwood cuttings. As hardwood cuttings we do hydrangea, willows, rose of sharon, purple sandcherry and a few other things. Lots of other things can be done as hardwood cuttings, but Things that Root as Softwood Cuttings, we prefer to do them that way in the summer.
Proper Nursery Tagging.
Tag, tag, tag, tag!!!!!!!!! When growing plants for profit not only do your plants have to be tagged, but they have to be tagged with the correct name. We tag all of our cuttings, whether in buckets or in a bed of sand, we use these aluminum plant tags because the don’t fade. They are not super easy to read, especially if I write them, but the words are pressed into the aluminum so they do not fade. I just drill a hole in the lip of the bucket and attach the tag with wire. That way the tags cannot blow away or accidentally get lost.
And trust me, proper tagging is more important than you can imagine!
Mike! What if my cuttings freeze outside in the winter?
Won’t it kill them?
No, it won’t kill them, they’ll be just fine.
I can assure you, if you are growing plants that are hardy in your zone, freezing won’t harm them a bit. To me snow is like a “Silent Baby Sitter”. When my cuttings are covered in snow I know they are snuggled in tightly for the winter and resting peacefully. Like this . . .
Both rooted and unrooted cuttings buried under snow.
Yep! That’s how my cuttings are going to spend the winter.
Fresh stuck hardwood cuttings, snow covered.
As you can see, the cuttings that we just stuck in the bed on the left are barely showing. I assure you, they are fine. Happy as clams!
Nursery pots filled with snow covered hardwood cuttings.
And now for the Nitty Gritty.
Mike, how do we actually do hardwood cuttings? Glad you asked, The How to Is Here.
How to actually make a cutting, See this Post I did Recently.
Yeah, but does this Hocus Pocus hardwood cutting thing really work? Yep! It Sure Does, Here’s Proof.
Questions, comments or mean things to say? Post them below.