Rooting cuttings is easy, I’ve been teaching people how to do it online for fifteen years now. But once the cuttings are rooted how do care for them? How do you plant or pot them? When should they be first pruned?
All great questions that folks have. People get all caught up in The Process of Rooting Cuttings, but never really think about what to do with them after they make roots. So today we are going to get to the bottom of how all this works.
This is a Tango Weigela that I bought from another grower. It’s a bit larger than a rooted cutting, but not quite liner size. A liner is a rooted cutting that has been grown out for one season after it is rooted. This plant is in desperate need of pruning and quite honestly it should have been pruned last summer right after it was rooted.
In the photo I am showing you with the shears where it needs to be cut, but to be perfectly honest I’m not going to prune these plants now because they are just starting to break bud and many of them have no leaves or buds down low at all. So I’ll give them a few weeks, we’ll let them grow out a bit, we’ll prune them in June and at the same time collect softwood cuttings for rooting. We do most of our cuttings in June, July and August with this system.
These two Variegated Weigela are just as bad. After rooting they were allowed to grow way too tall with no pruning at all. Again, looking at the position of the shears you can see how much these will have to be cut back. But the sad thing is that had these been pruned hard before I received them they would be flushing out with nice new growth down low and they would be well on their way to being perfect little plants.
Instead, I have to put them in the time machine and really take them back in time almost 12 months and just like the Tango Weigela, I have to wait for them to put on more growth, then 90% or more of it will need to be cut off. Once that is one I can start trimming them to get nice plants.
This is what I harp on in Our Members Area All the Time! Prune, prune, prune.
It’s Imperative that You Prune Your Plants as Soon as they Need It!
This is a Hakuro Nishiki Willow that I grew from a hardwood cutting last winter. If you look closely the original cutting that I took was only about 4″ long. (You can see this better in the movie on this page.) The original cutting put out three branches, then last summer we trimmed those down to just two or three inches. If you look closely you can see where we made our cuts. We did that just weeks after potting up the rooted cutting. That trimming forced the plant into putting even more side branches. This is what makes shrubs nice and full at the bottom which is really, really important when they are young and developing.
In this photo I am trimming the plant one more time to make it nice and balanced, to make it fill out even more, and from this point I’ll let it fill out nicely. However, if I don’t sell this plant in one season it will go into a larger pot and at that time it will be pruned again.
When it the Best Time to Do this Kind of Pruning?
I knew you were going to ask that. The ideal time to trim your plants is as soon as you notice that they need pruning. Don’t wait, don’t wait until they bloom or do this or do that. If they need trimming, trim them right now. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s mid spring, middle of winter or middle of summer, they get trimmed. Trimming near the end of the growing season is the least desirable because pruning tells the plant to start growing like crazy and you don’t want to force lots of new growth at the end of the growing season because that when plants slow down so they can harden off to protect themselves for the coming winter.
We start sticking cuttings here in Ohio usually around the first week of June. This year spring is late to happen so our start date will be pushed toward the middle to the end of June. The rule of thumb is wait six weeks from the time the plants first make leaves in spring. Once full leaves appear you have to give the plants six weeks to put on new growth, then that new growth has to harden off just a bit before it will be strong enough to stand on it’s own as a softwood cutting.
When to Do Cuttings has Nothing to Do with Bloom Time.
We stick the cuttings in June, most are rooted in four to six weeks, then some of them start to put on new growth. Once they have about 6″ of new growth I go out to the propagation bed with hedge shears like you see in the above photo and simple and rather crudely “whack” off that new growth. So within eight weeks of being stuck as unrooted cuttings, my tiny plants get their first pruning. Many don’t need it, but those that do get pruned.
This early pruning completely prevents the situation that you see in the photos at the top of this page and gets the shrubs headed in the right direction almost immediately.
This summer snowflake viburnum is the same age as the weigelas that you see at the top of this page. It was grown from a rooted cutting and in this photo it is about 11 months old. The same age as the weigelas. But look at the difference. This plant was pruned just weeks after it started rooting. My guess is that they took cuttings from the cuttings that just rooted. But in any case you can see how the early pruning turned this plant into a beautiful little specimen plant that is full at the bottom, not a single stick that has to be pruned back really hard just to correct a problem.
By the way, Summer Snowflake Viburnum is in Demand in the Members Area. As soon as members see them, they are looking for some to buy to add to their inventory.
When we pot these Summer Snowflake Viburnums we won’t have to worry about pruning them at all. We’ll take cuttings from them this summer, that will be all the pruning they’ll need.
So there you have it! That’s how and when to start pruning your rooted cuttings. Make sure you watch the movie because in the movie I show you exactly how to pot up or plant a rooted cutting. Many people are doing it all wrong. Also in the movie I go over all of this pruning in more detail.
Questions or comments? I’ll happily answer them for you, just post them below.