Rooting cuttings is easy, I’ve been teaching people how to do it online since 1999. 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 to 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 its 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.
I planted part of a stem from a newly cut , very large Dracaena Fragrans plant in June 2022. I dipped it in rooting stuff and it has now (September 12, 2022 developed 3 new leaf buds . ISo, it must have rooted.
Can I remove it from the small, shallow, pot I had put it in and re-plant it in the same very larage pot with the mother plant, or in a somewhat larger pot than the one it’s in now, without risking damage to the new plant itself?
You can once you are certain that it is well rooted. When you move it, don’t do any root damage.
Thanks for all the helpful info. I started hardwood blueberry cuttings 3 months ago. They have small roots. I was going to transplant them out to a small nursery bed. Should I prune them during the growing season, or let them grow and wait until fall to prune them? Also, can they be in full sun or should I have something providing some shade? I would love any of your thoughts on how this should go with hardwood fruit bush cuttings. Thanks.
Not sure why they would need pruning now, I’d try not to. Shade is a big help with small cuttings.
Great info thank you. Please tell me…..once your cutting is rooted and needs to be transplanted to a 1 gallon pot, what medium do you use? Should I use 50/50 split of peat moss and perlite……if so do I add a fertilizer?
You need a slow release fertilizer but that potting mix won’t work.
Okay, let me see if I can make the important points.
My most recent video on potting soil, this one is about pine fines or pine bark mulch; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2018/03/potting-soil-can-use-make-potting-soil/
Just in! This mix is actually pretty good, https://www.amleo.com/berger-bark-growing-mix-3-cu-ft/p/BM7/. If nothing else gives you an idea of what a good mix should be.
1. First of all, it is confusing because there are so many options that make for a good mix. A lot of it has to do with what is available to you in your area.
2. Pea gravel. I used to add pea gravel to my well rotted hardwood bark mulch but I’ve learned that adding pine bark is really a better option. In small quantities pine bark is often sold by the bag and called soil conditioner in the box stores.
3. Rotted hardwood bark mulch is still a good option, I used it for years with great success. It only failed me when I tried to really stock up (50 yards worth) then it rotted too much and didn’t drain well. That’s when I started mixing in large amounts of pine bark.
4. Growers actually use pine bark fresh because even as it ages it really doesn’t change a lot.
5. So right now my ideal mix is very heavy in pine bark and to that I add either commercial compost or well rotted hardwood bark mulch.
6. But what I really do is buy a load (90 yards) of pine bark then I start working that into the potting mix that we are current using. I think it’s important for me to stay ahead of the wave by adding more pine bark before I am out of soil. Right now I have a large pile of pine bark that’s been sitting here since ???? early summer I think. And there is a part of my potting soil pile that is far too aged and compacted so on my to do list is to blend these two piles together before spring.
7. Yes, I now have a front end loader that makes this easy. But at this place, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2016/03/mikes-first-backyard-nursery/, I used a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a rototiller. I usually kept about 10 yards on hand and always replenished my pile before it ran out using the old to mix with the new.
8. But back then I never turned the entire pile. That would have been crazy. I’m too lazy to turn compost! Or as I like to think of it, I value my time more than that.
9. Instead when I added fresh material, bark mulch, commercial compost or pea gravel to my pile, I simply put it on top. I’d use a two by twelve as a ramp to get the wheelbarrow up on top of the pile. I built the pile like a “Dagwood Sandwich”, you might have to Google that. Layers of materials. Then when I needed soil I would simply rototill one corner and get an awesome mix that I’d shovel on to the bench by hand.
10. And that’s where the legless potting bench came in. I’d rest one end on the pile so it would be nice and close for shoveling, then the other end on blocks or a saw horse. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/01/homemade-mobile-potting-bench-it-has-removable-wheels/
11. So yeah, today I do things very differently, but I started exactly where all of you are today.
No matter what you use, it doesn’t have to be my mix, just pick a potting soil that somebody else here is using with great success. Bagged soil? Sure if that’s what you want to do. I have no idea how much it costs to fill a one gallon with a bagged mix but I am curious about that if anybody wants to share than number with us.
Here are some tips on getting good potting soil;
Looking online for mulch is probably not the best place to look because many of the dealers who sell mulch really have little to no web presence at all. I’m sure there has to be some hardwood bark available in New Jersey.
I’d pick up the phone and start calling around. Garden Centers, landscapers and excavators will know who sells bulk hardwood bark mulch. These dealers are often hidden away on some side street.
I’d take a full day and visit as many garden centers and nurseries in your area that you can. Browse, ask some casual questions.
1. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk mulch.
2. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk potting soil.
3. What do most growers around here use as a potting mix.
Bulk potting soil is available, usually around $55 a yard, but worth it. But it’s not readily available in all areas and in most cases you need to send a truck to get it.
But it won’t cost anything to ask these questions. You’ll either get really good, answers, might get the brush off, or you might find somebody who loves to talk about growing plants and will bury you in valuable information.
Good info here about potting soil, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/12/mike-mcgroartys-secret-bed-building-and-potting-soil-recipe/
Teresa Gypin says
Mike, it seems I’ve heard somewhere that once a cutting is made the plant produces a hormone that causes the cutting to the produce roots. So I’m wondering is there any urgency to get the rooting into the soil? Should the cutting be immediately put into the soil or is there time to collect up a bunch of cuttings and put them into soil at a later time? In other words, what’s the approximate maximum amount of time from taking the cutting to when it needs to be in the soil?
Thanks for your help. I’ve learned so much in the past few months from your posts and videos and have been putting the knowledge to good use.
You are right, cuttings have a natural rooting compound called Auxin. But softwood cuttings have a very short shelf life if not misted, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/mikes-plant-propagation-kit/ or watered on a regular basis. Some refrigerate them. But I like to stick them within one hour of taking the cuttings. We take several hundred cuttings, up to 500 at a time, process them, then stick them in the mist.
Mike spring is very late and I was wondering if I can still do some cuttings on red twig dogwood and a wild willow? I need to do a large rows for habitat restoration- can I stick them in the ground where they need to grow? The soil is mostly clay.
I would yes, give it a try.
Jack Sullivan says
Hi Mike. Its October and i have rooted cuttings. Do i plant them in the ground or in pots. i am in RI.
Mike you are a propagation ninja. I am losing softwood cuttings on potting up. Really annoying. The cuttings are rooted at 70°f in a heated bench. They root fine and dandy. I pot them up at first sign of roots, sometimes before! But then they often fade away. I note your tip about potting up and height of root ball. Am I just being too impatient? Should I leave them for longer in the cuttings compost? How long?
I think you are being too impatient. I try to not pot anything in the heat of the summer unless it’s really well rooted. Right now we are pulling cuttings we rooted in June but many of them we are heeling into big pots for later use. They will fatten up in those pots. We put about 22 in a bunch and just stick them in pot with potting soil and keep watered. Early spring is a great time for potting.
joann loomis says
mike can you root ordamental pear ive tried but nothing happens any ideals
Most are budded or grafted onto a pear tree seedling to the best of my knowledge. I’m sure some are done via tissue culture which pretty high tech.
jody wilson says
I have several softwood cuttings that I took in in September and they are rooted. I have had them inside on a heating mat and am now wondering how to proceed. Will it kill them if I put them outside now..it’s below freezing at night. I could keep them inside under lights for the winter but I am terrible at keeping plants alive inside.. Do you think I wasted my time and effort on getting these all rooted at this time of year? They are hakura nishiki, arctic blue willow, buttleia, barberry and holly.
I do have a hoop house that I could put them in but it will be dry inside of it for the winter.
At this point I’d move them outside to a protected area where they’ll get rain/snow and hope for the best. Should be fine, but no promises. See this for rooting now, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
Mark Palmer says
Hi Mike, I have about 100 cuttings (forsythia, boxwood) which I planted in soil pots sept 10, they should be rooted by nov, should I leave them in the pots for the winter or should I put them in the ground before it freezes, also can I bring some indoors to grow over winter and plant in the spring? Thanks…Mark……love your video’s!
Charlene Dryman says
What about cutting tomato vines? I planted all mine from seed because hubby was tired of paying high prices for plants. I started them from seed in mid January. It is now March 6th and the tomato plants are 1 foot tall. We can’t plant them out yet because of heavy daily rain for over a week–it is coming. Can I prune them down some?
I would think you should.
Dianne Anderson says
Coleus. This plant taught me MORE than any plant about pruning. I cut back the top of each stem. Almost immediately I got new growth in double. Amazing! It opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what to do with plants. Coleus are so EASY at telling the story.
Really appreciate all the great info. We have 11 very old, very tall (approx. 15 feet) Crape Myrtles that have an infestation on aphids. Can you help with getting rid of them without destroying the trees. We are in Memphis, Tn.
Any insecticide will help, but around here most aphids leave on their own as soon as the new growth hardens off a bit. At least that seems to be the case on spirea. You can also use an insecticidal soap, available at garden stores.
A Maps & Graphics says
What to spray on aphids…easy! Water! A strong mist of water will remove most of them and they don’t live long enough and too slow to get back up there. Never use systemic insecticides.
allen borglin says
Hi Mike I have been growing tomato plants from seed for five years and sometimes good results and sometimes they get tall and lengthy ,I use florescent lights up to 16 hours on to 8 off at first then cut back to 12 and 12 at about 4 inches over plants.Seems like the store bought ones have got a magic potion that keeps them small for weeks in the store.What is the best answer for this problem,thanks Al
I won’t pretend to know a lot about growing tomatoes from seed except to say that even though florescent lights help, they are not a replacement for natural sunlight. Tomato plants in the stores are greenhouse grown and receive a great deal of natural sunlight, even though they are greenhouse grown. I’m also guessing they have large mechanical pruning machines that prune these seedlings when only a few inches tall to make them fill out. I don’t know that to be a fact, but I know that’s how rooted cuttings are trimmed in large production nurseries, producing a superior plant.
Judi Klug says
If I cannot take cuttings until 6 weeks after leaves begin, how can I have a Spring Sale in May? I’d like to take cuttings from some of what I’m going to sell……. ???
In this business timing is everything. You have to grow for the future. I won’t be taking a single cutting until my plant sales are over. But I stuck tens of thousands of cuttings last summer and at least 10,000 during the winter. We’ll start taking cuttings again in June.
I just came across your website today and love the information. I have a quick question for you in regards to a red sunset maple tree that I am growing. I found this growing in my backyard this Spring and it was only 5″ or 6″ tall. I have it in a large pot now and it is now around 3 feet with a lot of growth on it.
I would like to eventually transplant it in my yard and grow it to a nice mature tree. My question for you is do I need to prune this or just let it grow? If I do need to prune, how should I do that?
Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Tyy, see this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/04/how-to-grow-tree-seedlings-into-beautiful-trees/
This spring I rooted several cuttings from a wax leaf ligustrum and they aren’t growing at all. They are simply existing. Last year, after watching your video on how to do it with the sand, I rooted only one plant and planted it this spring in my flower bed with other ligustrums I had purchased. The others are thriving and growing very quickly, but the one I rooted still isn’t growing either. What am I doing wrong? Maybe the stems were too small. I didn’t have enough new growth when I clipped them from the mother plant, so they are only like 4 inches long. Is that the problem?
Also, I was wondering how long it actually takes for them to root. I didn’t mark it on my calendar when I took the cuttings either time.
Thank you, Cindy
A 4″ cutting is fine. Once they root, usually about 4 weeks, you can plant them in a bed and they should start growing but it will take a year or two for them to catch up to a small plant you might buy in the store. This works really well, so far just this summer we’ve rooted well over 10,000 cuttings. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/mikes-plant-propagation-kit/
Vickie Jostes says
just in the nick of time; am on my way out the door to prune the half dozen dappled willow cuttings i rooted 6 wks. ago. i kept looking at them, wondering IF i should prune. now i know!
also, should i prune a maple grown from seed? this is its 3rd year, & it has taken off: about 7′ tall today. i intend to transplant it. does it need pruning, other than your “finger” pruning technique i did first thing in the spring?
thnx, mike – i learn sooooo much from u!
Nice job on the Japanese maple from seed. Some light pruning will make it fill out more. Do not transplant until after Thanksgiving when the tree is dormant.
If my problem was a Death Star, this article is a photon toerpdo.
Joyce Allen says
Thanks so much for the good, down-to-earth advice you provide as well as the photos and videos that illustrate it. Although I’m a very small time gardener compared to your operation, I find your advice very helpful and truly appreciate the time you spend preparing your presentations and illustrations. A few years ago when I downsized and moved to a house with a much smaller lot, I decided to have only one flower bed in order to grow a few plants for cutting, but after that was done, the foundation looked bare; so gradually I’ve put in so many beds that I have nor more room for new plants. Instead I have to be contented with replacing the ones that don’t thrive or suffer winter damage. I thought you’d probably understand this addiction. 🙂
When you prune like above can you propagate the cuttings?
I have some ‘Rose of Sharon’ hibiscus from online. They are single stem, about 3 ft tall. Where and when should I prune them to make a ‘tree’ form? They all have new leaves. Thank you. Oh, have the ‘no longer available’ Backyard Growing system, is pruning for a tree-shape addressed in that, I will look if you say it is in there, or if you give me page number(s) that would be great. THX!
Carrie Lonsdale says
It’s clear now thank you thank you. I understand before getting all of my plants.
Steve j says
Mike, Have you ever tried to root chinquapin bush cuttings.
Steve, I have not, but try this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
PATTI LAW-POGGI says
Dear Mike, I wrote about this subject on April 30. Now, my weigelas look like your tall ones only with flowers on. I know I need to prune them but I’m asking about the cuttings. I read online somewhere that you should let the flowers die first, is this right? Regardless of the flowers, there doesn’t seem to be enough stem for cuttings, they are about 3″.
Dear Mike, I’m 12 years old and just decided to do gardening. My first plant is the tropical hibiscus, and I’m not sure how to prune it. When should I start, how much should I cut off, etc. Any advice would be really helpful.
Most hibiscus flower on new growth so limited pruning should be done during the growing season. But if you want to take a few cuttings that’s great. Details here http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Joan Vastola says
Great video on root cuttings. I have a Vibernum that was rooted last summer. After watching your video I will prune it.
Do you do anything with fig trees? I’m interested in getting them to produce fruit that ripens. Often I get fruit that stops growing. They are easy to take cuttings from and than easy to grow.
Frances Bischoff says
WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR THORNLESS BLACKBERRY PLANTS . tHEY ARE NOT SPROUTING NEW LEAVES LIKE THEY SHOULD. hELP
Hi Mike ,
I always learn so much from you ! …and I do thank you !
I often hear about rootings being placed in sand, and it puzzles me as I do not know anyone who has done that …Do you recommend this ? If so, what kind of sand ?
Also, does store-bought Top Soil have any nutrients ?
We root all of our softwood cuttings, tens of thousands of them, in sand. The sand can’t be fine like sand in an hour glass, it has to be coarse with tiny pebbles so water drains right through it. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/mikes-plant-propagation-kit/ I’m sure store bought top soil has some nutrition.
Hi Mike. It took me ages to bite the bullet and buy your system but I’m so glad I have.
I’ve just taken my first hardwood cuttings here in Australia and I’m wondering how long to leave them in my cutting bed. I read somewhere to leave them in over winter but I don’t want the frost to kill them. Any advice please?
Frost won’t kill your hardwood cuttings. We stick our hardwood cuttings about mid winter and just leave them outside and water them when it’s warm and dry or cold and dry for that matter. Ours will stay right where they are until mid summer. By then they should be well rooted and will be potted up. Our softwood cuttings we start sticking in early summer and they too stay in the propagation all summer, fall, through the winter then get potted the following spring. It’s always nice to cover your cuttings for the winter, http://www.freeplants.com/how-to-build-a-hoop-house.htm but I don’t cover mine. They just rest outside, all winter covered with snow, enduring temperatures below zero.
Granted, this post was 7 years ago, but you say:
– Hardwood cuttings are stuck in Winter, then potted in midsummer
– Softwood cuttings are stuck in early Summer, then potted in Spring
So then it’s OK to pull up and pot things while they’re actively growing?
It is, but you do have to be careful to not do root damage when doing soil. When summer potting I pull the cuttings then heel without breaking many roots, then heel them back into a pot, say 30 to a pot and put in the shade or under mist for a week or so to give them a chance to recover from the transplant shock if there was any. If really small I leave them heeled in for weeks until they fatten up.
Hi Jo, I’m an Aussie too! Where a outs are you? So far I have had minimal loss from frost where I am on Central Coast. Haven’t covered. We don’t get too much frost here tho, not like southern states.
Suzanne G says
Hi Mike, Im just getting started in the rooting business. I have alot of pomegranate, fig, olive, and grape cuttings. I rooted them in the sand medium you advised. I’m ready to pot them now. If I prune them could I use the cutting to re-root again? Also, I wish these to grow as small trees. Should I prune them to promote growth at the bottom? Please advise.
PS Love your little donkeys
Suzanne, if you wait a month to do any pruning you can use the new softwood that is just now starting to grow. It roots so much easier than hardwood that has gone through a winter. Plants that you want to grow as trees are pruned differently. I just did an article about that https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/04/how-to-grow-tree-seedlings-into-beautiful-trees/
Great help for cuttings and pruning. Can’t wait to get started! Have you ever rooted kolkwitzia (beauty bush)?? With our hard winter here in Iowa mine looks pretty sad so far but its 15 ft tall now and has new growth. There appear to be suckers near the plant. Do those root as well as the cuttings and do you have a video about how to propagate from suckers?
As long as the plant hasn’t been grafted you can root suckers just like you would any other softwood on the plant. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Hello I would like to know how to root cuttings from cuttings from adult trees . I have sycamore, beech, maples cedar white pines . I even have a list of plants like clematis . Please help me . You make it look so easy , just stick it in sand and they grow … Hummm. It never works for me even with root toner . I even bought a cloning machine…. I would like to also root ninebark ,plus a whole list of others . Anything you can tell me that will get my plants to root would be appreciated . Thanks George
Many trees are grown from seed and not cuttings. Some are budded onto seedlings or grafted. Most all shrubs are done from cuttings using simple methods such as these work. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm We do tens of thousands at a time like this https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/mikes-plant-propagation-kit/
Cindy Shaw says
Mike, could you show me how to create new rhodos from cuttings. My girlfriend gardened for me last year when I was away, and much to my surprise she cut back my rhodo, that I panicked and stuck the branches in a garbage can and filled it up with water. Much to my surprise, the buds are blooming in the water. Can I make a lot of new rhodos from this. Do I peel the bark back at a node, cover that with rooting compound and plant in a pot and how long would that take to or would it create another rhodo. I live in BC, on Vancouver Island and would love to have the knowledge of creating rhodos from cuttings.
Your expertise would be ever so appreciated, Thank you Cindy
John Hurley says
I know that I have asked this before but how do I find the blog?
I potted a bunch of my rooted cuttings about 4 weeks ago. They are looking terrible. I followed your video step by step. Used all the same stuff you do. And they are not doing well. Should I have them in shade? I have them set up to water for 20 minutes every 6 hours, to much? Had high hopes, getting depressing.
Mike, I would like to take some softwood cuttings this summer off of some Aronia bushes I have. I’m using these bushes for berry production. I have a good idea how to take the cuttings and root them its the care for them after they are rooted, and how soon I can plant them in there permanent home? Im located in SE MN and was hoping to be able to plant my rooted cuttings this fall but have been told I may want to wait until next spring to plant them in they’re permanent spot.
If you take softwood cuttings this summer they should be well rooted in six to eight weeks. After that time they can be successfully transplanted as long as you can get them out of the rooting medium without breaking off a lot of roots. Once they are rooted they are ready to be transplanted and eager to be in soil that has some nutrition.
Thanks Mike that’s just what I needed to hear.
Your videos are amazing!! I have learned so much from you and your videos.
keep them coming! I also would love to know if you do cuttings from crepe myrtles? I have not been successful. A video would be great if you do. 🙂
Thanks again for all your backyard tips!!!
Monica Huddleson says
Thanks Mike for all your helpful tips. Reading and than doing is something that is hard for me, so your pictures and videos help a lot! Can you do grapes and raspberries like you did the shrubs? My aunt is moving and she has grapes that her and my late uncle planted 30-50 years ago and I would like to get a start of them and keep them in the family–have a daughter and son-in-law who are interested in starting a fruit garden, so hopefully will be able to share these plants with them. My cousin has let her raspberry patch go to the extent that she can’t even get to the middle and wants me to transplant as many as I can to our home–what is the best method for doing this.
Monica grapes are easy as hardwood cuttings during the winter. If you use the search bar on this site you’ll find info on grapes. but you should also try them as softwood cuttings this summer like this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Sally Scott-Mathews says
Hi Mike – I have a question about dormancy. I bought many rooted cuttings and liners in Dec-Jan from someone in the South. I live in California. Some of the cuttings and liners are blooming, but not many. Most are still just sticks. Most of my plants that I have had (not these, but other plants that are established) have been leafing out for a few months now. Are some of my rooted cuttings experiencing a delay because they are from a different climate? Should I give them more time or have they just not made the transition or are they goners? This is my first time buying cuttings so I am not sure what to expect. If a plant looks like a dead stick (ie no color in the stem, no leaves), is there still a chance that it might come out of it later? If there something I can do to help promote blooming? I have them mostly in beds, but some I had to pot up because of a lack of space in the beds. Should I feed them? I have them in beds with a mixture of planting mix and sand. Drainage is good, and I water them everyday or everyday when to top looks dry (I stick my finger into the top to see how deep the moisture is). They get morning sun, but around 11 they are mostly in shade. It has been off and on hot weather (80-90), but mostly is has been mild 70’s. I have a mixture of plants (weigelas, roses, forsythia, burning bush, gardenias, rose of Sharon, hydrangeas, kerria, false holly, sky pencil holly). Some started blooming and when I potted them up they died back and look dead now. I did not pot them too deep as you instructed. I just don’t know what to do.
Marianne Lackey says
Thank you for your articles….I am enjoying them a lot! Don’t know if you answer questions like this because it would probably keep you very busy.
I put 3 pussy willow branches in water and now have leaves growing out the top. Do I plant these in a pot for a year? Do I trim the 2 ft branches down when I plant them and what do I plant them in? I’m new at this and would really like your advise. Thanking you, Marianne
When trying to root cuttings it’s best to make the cuttings only about 5″ long. Cuttings are fun and easy during the summer like this http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm. The ones that you have now you can just stick in your garden and they will probably finish rooting there.
I received my parcel in the mail today, thank you! What quick service even with the travel time here to Australia!
In the post above you talk about doing most of your pruning in June, July & August. Here in Australia those are our winter months, so I’m guessing for you it’s the opposite. So just to clarify, what season is it in June there?
Thanks, and can’t wait to start watching my new CDs!
Great questions. June is the end of spring, very beginning of summer for us. But keep in mind, I prune pretty much year round. Winter pruning is probably better, but I never wait for a season to prune. If something needs pruning the sooner the better. During the winter you can do hardwood cuttings I did a piece on that a few weeks ago. During the summer you do lots and lots of softwood cuttings. We have people doing very well with this system in Australia so have at it! -Mike McGroarty
Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker says
Thanks Mike! I bought a plant online that looks just like one of your top plants. I was wondering whether or not to cut it. Now I know. I will cut it tomorrow.
bill millar says
love your info your explanations gives great insight into why you do certain very helpful things thanx from a not the sharpest tool in the tool box keep up the good work you might make me a gardener someday
I know a lot of people who many would consider “not the sharpest tool in the shed” who are very successful nurseryman and successful in a lot of other businesses as well. Success at any thing has little to do with being really smart.
Wally Hollander says
I tried a few weeks ago to sign up, but nothing yet. About 5-6 years ago I needed info how to dig up trees and you were the man. Been following you ever since. Live 38 miles NE of Evansville, IN. Interested in your “Gardeners Secret Handbook”. Anyway take care…you’re doing a great job!!!
The “Gardeners Secret Handbook” is digital book that you can access as soon as you enter your email address. You can sign up here https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/ or here http://freeplants.com. Thanks for being a raving fan! I need all I can get.
Brenda Steigerwald says
Thanks for the info, love all the tips that you share.
Cheryl Thompson says
I just dug up about 100 rooted Japanese maple tree saplings from my mothers tree and put them in a rooting bed to grow. I know you say to prune everything but would you prune these some only 2 inches tall to 7 inches tall or would you leave them to grow since they are a tree and not a bush?
Thanks so much for all of your advice and wisdom. I bought your books for my husbands birthday ( secretly they are for me also)!! Don’t tell!! Anyway…we read all of your emails and watch your videos and this is our first year starting out a backyard nursery and we are so excited about it since it is both our love and would love to get to the point that it is all we do. So thank you for all of your help.
Excellent question. What I am describing in this post is for plants that you want to grow as shrubs. Trees that you want to grow more upright are treated differently. I did this about tree seedlings https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/04/how-to-grow-tree-seedlings-into-beautiful-trees/
Melanie Rowlinson says
Thanks Mike! I was planning on having my plant sale, but after seeing this video on pruning, I’m going to postpone it. I have the same problem with 4 different varieties of Weigelas I purchased, I’m going to have to wait a few more weeks before I can prune them. I have been going back through all your booklets and emails looking for the solution to those tall spendly Weigelas and you made a video on the exact plant in question. Thanks.
Being my first winter, my plants did very well. There are only a handful out of over 300 plants that don’t yet have buds on them.
I would have liked to see some info on damping off of new seeds. There was a product to help this call “No Damp “which is no longer available in Canada:0(. Please e-amil any info you have on this problem. thx
Damping off can be controlled by using a potting mix that is light and fluffy, drains well. Let the soil dry a bit between waterings and place a fan near the flat so there is always air moving across the seedlings.
Mary Ann Houle says
Thanks Mike another great tip..
Barb Richter says
a question? I took a baby plant off of a mother plant. It was a weeping type. Well mine is not weeping. Am I supposed to cut the top off so that it will weep? I have two of them but they just keep getting taller and taller. Help. Thanks, Barb Richter
Most weeping plants are grafted so if you removed a sucker from a weeping tree chances are the plants that you have will never weep. Weeping plants usually have to be trained to grow upright. Left untrained they just grow across the top of the ground.
Woody Stewart says
I bought some pink dogwoods that are mostly 3′-4′ tall stems with few buds on side. Should you ever cut out top at this young age to encourage branching. Have your books and love your website and emails.
See this article about seedlings https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/04/how-to-grow-tree-seedlings-into-beautiful-trees/
You were saying to take your cutting in June. I am zone 7. Should I take them earlier? I want to do Wielgias ,. Japanese Bloodgoods, and Korean Spice Viburnums.
Thank you so much for all the helpful knowledge you have on your hard drive (Brain)
In zone 7 you can probably get started in late May, but June thru August are fine.
I have Sutter’s Gold potentilla that I put in a raised bed last fall, should I prune this spring? They look pretty good but some are a bit “all over”. I have several different things I started as root cuttings and they seem to be doing really well, I think I should no doubt prune a bit after seeing your video. Thanks
I always trim Potentilla pretty hard at the end or beginning of the growing season since they are so vigorous. And they really like being trimmed and bloom like crazy.
Spring Greetings from Tonawanda, New York . I’ve rooted a few Pussy Willow branches and wondering how I go about planting them? More specifically, how, when and what is the best location for planting them; we live on a corner lot so have east, south/south west, west and north sides to consider. Also, interested in receiving more info about the best variety of Hosta to plant, and what side(s) of the home is best for it. Meanwhile, we do have steady deer visiting so your reply will be so helpful.
Pussy willow are pretty much a sun loving plant. Other than they do fine just about anywhere in the yard. There are so many different hosta, over 200. But since you have deer I’d plant a pretty common variety like Alba Marginata.
Linda Grogan says
I have a question about re-potting large pt plants. They are already in large pots, can I trim off some of the roots and then re-pot them in the same pot with new dirt. I don’t want to kill them but they really need some help.
You can, but this is best done when the plants are dormant if you are going to be cutting many roots. Much of our stuff is still dormant here in Ohio, but not for long.
Crape Myrtle Guy says
Always learning…. Thank you.
Wayne Davis says
Mike: Do you recommend this same pruning technique for citrus seedlings or grafts?
What I’ve described here if for plants that are to be grown as shrubs. Tree seedlings or grafted trees are different. See these posts. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/04/how-to-grow-tree-seedlings-into-beautiful-trees/ and this http://japanesemaplelovers.com/one-finger-pruning/
Thanks, Mike I check out these sites.
Gloria Ardrey says
Thanks Mike this is just what I needed!!!!!! Gloria
Hi, I plant cuttings for a few years now, What is the best time to plant them into pots, Also at what age? Should I take them to a greenhouse? Thanks
Once they are rooted they can be potted at any time. They do not need a greenhouse and most certainly should not be a greenhouse once they are rooted.
JoAnn Davidson says
Thanks for the free e book. I got it quick on my iPad and saved it to my iBooks. Will make good reading tonight! It’s wonderful, johere
You’re welcome JoAnn, lots of good info in that book.
i hope you offer the basic info on your videos to young people in your area, possibly through schools or school organizations, including colleges. I wish I had learned more about the fundamentals of pruning, taking cuttings, and so on a lot earlier. I know a grandmother who had to watch her grandkids at the same time that she was preparing her vegetable and flower garden. She got the kids involved at the beginning of the summer. They were fascinated-learning the basics, learning about different seeds, weeding, mulching-the whole nine yards. Even if they lose interest for awhile as kids often do, they will never forget what they saw and can return to it when they grow up. Great info.
Thanks Bill, I appreciate that.
Pat Lee says
awesome video… thanks a million..
Patti Poggi says
Dear Mike, I purchased Weigelas at the beginning of March. At that time, they were just sticks. Now they are all leaved out and as tall as yours in the photo above. So, do I cut them short like you show after only just two months? and then do I stick the tops in sand to root? Can I just stick the tops only, or use the whole branch at every two nodes? Thank you.
At some point they need to be pruned but you really have to follow what I said in the video and decide when the best time is to prune them. Keep in mind, the wood that you are looking at now is hardwood. In a few weeks they’ll have softwood on them that you can use for cuttings.
Thanks so much for this post, Mike! Just the thing I was needing to see and your examples were spot on with some of my rooted cuttings.
As always you do an excellent job of explaining!
Jim young says
Hi mike…I got rooted cuttings of rose of Sharon plants six of them and I planted each in pots…they have nice growth at the tops and I was curious about pruning and when I should put into the ground…any advice you give would be most appreciated
Read your emails and watch your videos and they help quite a bit
If they need pruning, the sooner the better really. Ideally while they were dormant would have been great, but waiting will only make the matter worse. Once they are rooted you can plant them into the soil at any time.