Purple Flowering Sandcherry, prunus cistena, is an extremely popular flowering shrub. Covered with tiny pinkish white blooms in the spring and deep purple leaves all summer long make this an all time favorite shrub. But unlike many flowering flowering shrubs, this one is a bit tricky to propagate from softwood cuttings. The softwood cuttings fail easily, whereas hardwood cuttings are tough as nails and fairly easy to root.
When you are taking cuttings during the summer (softwood cuttings) it’s usually only advisable to work with tip cuttings, the top 5″ or 6″ of the branch. But with hardwood cuttings you can remove the entire branch and cut it up into many cuttings. Of course it is still advisable to work only with growth from the previous growing season and not two or three year old wood. Purple Sandcherry is a fast grower so you can often get canes (branches used for hardwood cuttings are called canes) as long as two or three feet that will yield many hardwood cuttings.
These cuttings are about 6″ long and as you can see, they will vary in size because we are using long canes and not just tip cuttings.
When making hardwood cuttings where you make the bottom cut on the cutting is really important. You want to cut right below a node, but not into the node. A node is the bud union, that’s where the new leaf and branch will emerge from when the growing season starts.
You can see the node in this photo and Amber made her cut about 1/4″ below the node. When this cutting starts to form roots they are going to grow right below the node and a healthy node is important to rooting success. But if you cut too far below the node the roots will still form below the node, but all of that extra wood will rot underground and cause issues for the rooting cutting.
The cut at the top of the cuttings isn’t as critical but you want to do the opposite, cut as far above the node as possible. The extra wood at the top of the cutting will actually protect the top node as you handle the cutting. Usually you want to make the top cut from 1/2″ to 1″ above the top node.
Rooting compounds are not like “magic root making solutions” but they do increase your chances of success. When doing hardwood cuttings the rooting solution has to be a stronger strength than you would use for softwood cuttings. You can use a liquid or a powder, test results have shown that one is not really better than the other.
When buying powder rooting compounds you have to buy the correct strength. Some are for softwood cuttings, some for medium hardwood cuttings and some for hardwood cuttings. With a liquid rooting compound like Dip-n-Grow, you buy a concentrated formula and follow the directions on the bottle and mix with water to get the correct solution for the kind of cuttings that are doing. Sounds complicated, it’s not. Pretty simple stuff.
Amber hard at work sticking the cuttings she just made. It’s important to keep your cuttings in neat piles so you don’t get them turned around. If you stick them upside down the will not root!
As you can see we only give our cuttings about one square inch of space for rooting. Do the roots get tangled up? No, I’ve never had a problem with that. As you pull them out and shake the soil away, the roots should easily separate from one another.
Why did we use these big plastic pots? Because we ran out of the deep flats that we like to use for hardwood cuttings so we just filled these plastic pots with our regular potting mix. When doing softwood cuttings we root in coarse sand because we just an entirely different approach when it comes to softwood cuttings. But for hardwoods the potting mix seems to work fine.
As you can see, once we stick the cuttings we just move the outside into the elements, keep them watered as needed, which isn’t much as long as it’s still snowing. If it freezes, if we get two feet of snow, the cuttings will be fine. Chances are they won’t do anything in the way of rooting until spring when it warms up. At that time they start to make roots and leaves at the same time.
Difficult to see in this photo but right behind the buckets of hardwood cuttings are the beds of softwood cuttings that we stuck last summer. They are rooted and they too are out in the cold awaiting the arrival of spring.
These are the hardwood cuttings that we did this summer. Willows, Sandcherry, Pussy Willow etc.
This is why I say you can make 65 cents, or
$93.60 in One Square Foot in Your Backyard.
Once these cuttings are rooted I can easily sell them for 65 cents to $1.50 each! Or I can put them in small pot and sell them for $4.97 or in a couple of years sell them in a 3 gallon container for $12.00 or $15.00 each. Me? I like to sell them at $4.97 each and make people really, really happy to get such a great deal.
Questions or comments? Post them below.
Can PLSC be propagated by seed?
I’m sure it could but I don’t know if the seedlings will have the deep purple color. They are way to easy to do as cuttings. Just do hardwoods at the end of winter. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-winter-time-plant-propagation-can-home/
and this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2016/09/hardwood-cuttings-winter-of-20152016/
Lauren S says
HI there, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about the requirements of the plant. For the propagation of the Sand Cherry, what are the ideal temperatures, light, fertilization, watering, pH, and growing substrate?
It’s much simpler than that. I do them as hardwood cuttings in late winter. See this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-winter-time-plant-propagation-can-home/
and this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2016/09/hardwood-cuttings-winter-of-20152016/
Sherwood Botsford says
Two ideas for you. Most of the time you want to slow down the top, and speed up the bottom. Whole idea of bottom heat.
Doing them this way in spring, you may want to put the pots on pallets. This will allow air circulation under the pot so the roots won’t be as cold.
At the same time you may want to shade the tops so the tops don’t break bud too soon.
If temp is having an effect you would see the following:
The south row of pots will have more successful rooting, and the south edge of those pots more so than the north edge. Mark the south edge with a plant stick when you start processing to check this.
When I’m rooting poplar and willow, I only leave one node above the dirt. This means that only 1 or 2 leaves will start. Gives the roots more time to get going before the leaves suck the stem dry.
Hi Mike – Greetings from southern Wisconsin!
Last month I took some hardwood cuttings off of our sandcherry. Put them all (about 10) in a bucket as you suggest above and now 8 of them already have small leaves on them. I apologize in advance if I missed it in the body of the text or in the comments, but at what point do you separate them and put them into their own containers? And then at what point into the ground?
Thanks so much for your help!!
Leaves don’t necessarily mean roots. Hardwoods are slow to root. I’d say that they should be rooted by the end of July and you can transplant them carefully then.
Laverne Stanley says
I have a Rose of Sharon I’d like to root a cutting from but have no idea if it’s a soft or hardwood. Trees and shrubs are already budding here in South Texas, so I need to know which method to use. Thank you.
Right now the wood that you would be working with is still hard. I’d do the cuttings right now. They may not root for many weeks, but you have to do them now, don’t wait. See this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-winter-time-plant-propagation-can-home/ Then come summer you can try softwood cuttings, see this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
Bert dunn says
As I am starting about 1,000 grape cuttings,in pot+ Have 100+ varieties. How do I protect from rabbits, mice, voles ??
Unhappily I can’t send to USA any suggestions Mike??
Protecting plants from critters can be challenging. Most growers cover their container grown plants for the winter the put a weather resistant mouse bait inside the hoop house. See this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/11/over-wintering-protecting-plants-for-the-winter/
kanu bhatia says
how do i buy various rooted hardwood cuttings from u and what type of cuttings do u have let me know , i am just getting started.
At this time I am not selling any hardwood cuttings, but many of our members sell all kinds of hardwood cuttings. We only accept new members a few years so check this page, http://backyardgrowers.com/join and mark you calendar so you can at least take the test drive.
Hi. Can I prune purple sand cherry in November when have just started snowing?
Mike, I appreciate your blog and any help you can give. So can we do arctic willow cuttings in October? We are in zone 3-4 in Wyoming. Winters here are ferocious. So I read all I could find. I understand you stick the hardwood cuttings and just leave them outside? What if they freeze? How do you water them in the winter when it is freezing? How do you handle them in the spring when it starts to get warm in the days but the nights are still frosty? We don’t get our last frost until June here in the rocky mountains. It is tricky. So your advice is appreciated. Diane
I’ve got about 500 cuttings that I’ve been misting all summer with the setup I bought from you. Last night they called for a frost, so I took the mister down, but we only got to 36F. Should I continue misting until we get a hard frost? Some of the cuttings have changed to their fall colors, so I wondered if I could stop misting now? As always, thanks for your help.
mike gunter says
Can I do them in sand and cover with white plastic on a frame door as well? I will be doing other hardwood cuttings and if they prefer sand I could do all of them in course sand in one big box.
Hi Mike! I am new to all this but followed your directions to a T! I have 2 very beautiful, healthy Sand Cherry bushes that my mom and I got 300+ cuttings off of last fall. I am happy to say that they are doing very well and starting to grow! I get super excited over growing things. My mother and I are trying to use our property to grow many things, as you do, and try to sell them. Of course we will be planting quite a bit our properties. Thank you so much for all of your efforts to teach us!
I commend your success but caution you against trying to grow for profit if you don’t have my system, http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm, it’s too easy to make costly mistakes that will force you to back up and redo lots of things. One of the things that I hear all the time is, I should have purchased your system before trying to do this on my own.
loren moorhead says
I bought this way back and my cd’s don’t work anymore. Can I get new CD’s
Marilyn Hillen says
Dear Mike, Thanks for all of the useful information that you send me. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE SOME INFORMATION ABOUT
GROWINF MINI ROSES,MINE JUST KEEP ON DYING. PLEASE
We need to work on that. Stay tuned!
I see the sand cherry at Wal Mart and Lowe’s
anita strother says
Where do I get this plant
I see them at Wal Mart and Lowe’s
Hi. Love your newsletter . i am still looking for a decent weeping willow tree . i live in south central fl , and find it very hard to get one .. . i am rejoicing that i succeeded in ( after 7 long yrs ). to achieve my firsts of coffee beans from my arabica tree.,
i have had success in growing and keeping nothern plants / trees alive down here , even though they are unhappy at times .
i have a sister in the schmokin mountians of PA and she has alot of weeping willowss.
. i know ( remembering ) from my yrs in ny . i would take a nice clipping and just stick it in the ground . .
its this a good time of year for me to ask her to send me some clippings ? its very cold there now . how long a clipping should i ask for ? plz help me . your site has helped alot .. this is for personal use if i am successful . ….. sincerly cheryl chaput
Yes, now is a good time to have her send you come cuttings as longs as they are nice and cold where the cuttings are today. Have her make the cuttings 5″ long, wrap them in damp paper towels inside a ziplock bag. Make sure you know top from bottom! Really, really important. We make our cuts different on the top than the bottom, but however she does it she should mark on the bag with a permanent marker, big arrow. Top! Bottom!
Chip Dickerson says
I am pruning rose bushes and our crape myrtles on March 2nd can I root the hard wood crape myrtles cuttings now or will it be a waste of time. Live between Shreveport La. and Dallas Tx. Thanks Chip Dickerson.
anita strother says
Where can you get the purple flower sand cherry
Purple Sandcherry are pretty popular, just about any garden center in zones 4 thru 8 should have them in the spring.
anita strother says
I’ve looked at some nursery in louisiana and can’t find them so how can I find out what zone I’m in
Can you send me some cutting for this plant or help me find out if i can buy it in louisiana thanks for al the help
Hi Mike, I really appreciate your expertise! I’m hoping you can comment on another subject. I just planted a star pine (in CA) and noticed it has three main trunks. I’m thinking that’s not natural. It was in a pot on the patio for a few years. Any comment would be greatly appreciated.
San Diego County
I am not familiar with the tree but multiple trunks is not unusual. It takes regular pruning to maintain a tree to single stem. But often times growers intentionally grow out multi stemmed plants.
Can this be done with a dogwood tree????
Scott Scholl says
Is there a company you order the dip n grow from? I can’t find any rooting hormone locally.
I think I found some on amazon.com.
Mike, I have Crepe Myrtle and Wisteria I would like to propogate. Is it too late end of February to start them?
I’d wait and do them in June as softwood cuttings. You can try some now, but 95% of my stuff I’m waiting to do in June.
Great information, will this also work for red twig dogwood? Is this the best time to try doing them?
Yes, this will work for Red Twig Dogwood and they also root easily during the summer as softwood cuttings.
Frances Willey says
Hi Mike, love your posts. So useful. Two wee queries. How long should you leave the hardwood cuttings in the rooting solution? Any tips for getting rid of blackfly mites in indoor plants’ soil. The adult flies are so irritating.
Frances, read the directions on the bottle, most call for a 5 second dip. I can’t help with the flies, I don’t grow indoors.
John carroll says
Thanks Mike. Could I use the water spouts from a flowering cherry for hardwood rooting.
The sprouts that you speak of are probably suckers from the rootstock, which is very different from the actually tree itself. If they did root, they’d really only be good as a rootstock to bud or graft to.
How early in spring to you seperate these cuttings and plant them into their individual pots?
The hardwoods that we are doing now we probably won’t pot until July because they haven’t even started rooting yet.
So Mike you plan to separate them early Summer right? How will you know if they have rooted? Will they start to bud?
By summer they will be leafed out and fairly well rooted or by then they will have completely failed and you will be able to easily. Don’t be in a hurry to separate them, they’re just fine as they are until next fall or even early next spring. Just move the container a bit so they don’t root out the bottom and root into the ground.
With hardwood cuttings you won’t get a 100% stand so you’ll easily see which ones are doing good and which ones failed.
Frances Eason says
When can I start rooting hydrangea? They have started to have new buds now. Thank you so omuch.
In most zones June is the ideal time as softwood cuttings using this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Wilbert Merchant says
Hi Mike, Do you have any advice you could give me
my area is very hot in the summer,Southern Ca.
Always grow plants that do well in your climate. Don’t try and buck the zones and grow things that just can’t the heat. The same holds true for people in colder zones.
Could I post the blooming sand cherry picture on my Facebook if I link to this website. Its a great picture and I would like to talk about landscaping with sand cherry.
As long as you provide an active link to https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/ I’m fine with that.
James Mason says
Thanks for providing this handbook. I know I will enjoy using it
I’m trying to root pear tree cuttings that I cut and dipped in late January. They are starting to produce new leaves and even blossoms right now. I don’t want to disturb any possible roots, but when should I try to transplant?
I would leave them undisturbed until June. Leaves and flowers don’t always mean that they have rooted.
les wyman says
very good explanation Many years ago I worked at a retail nursery where I was the propagator
Thanks Les, you should be very, good at this!
bill bahr says
What soil mix is best to start hardwood cutting in early spring ?
Any potting soil mix should work. Shoot for late winter. The closer you get to spring the less success you will have.
OK, now I’m confused. There are pictures of hardwood cuttings from last summer and we’re doing late winter now. What am I missing about spring not being as good and will that apply to fall as well?
Right now, February, we are working with very hardwood from last years growth. Come spring the new growth is too soft and frail. As soon as you take a cutting it will wilt right over. By June that wood starts to harden off just enough to be handled. Still very softwood, but hardened off enough that you can work with. We are done propagating for now and will start back up in June. During the spring we spend time dividing a lot of perennials.