There are numerous deciduous and evergreen shrubs, including roses and soft fruit, that you can propagate from hardwood cuttings. These include dogwoods (Cornus), mock orange (Philadelphus), flowering currant (Ribes) and Forsythia. It is the easiest method to propagate these shrubs.
Hardwood cuttings are taken when the plant is fully dormant in autumn, after leaf fall, and in winter, avoiding periods of severe frost.
Select vigorous healthy shoots that have grown in the current year. Remove strong, healthy shoots about 23-30cm (9-12in) long. Trim the base of the shoot just below a bud and trim the top just above a bud, removing the soft growing tip if there is one. It's a good idea to treat the bottom cut with hormone rooting powder or liquid.
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Insert the cuttings to up two-thirds their height in a V-shaped trench, the base lined with 2.5cm (1in) of sharp sand or grit. Make the trench by inserting a spade into the ground and then pushing it forward. Replace the soil, firming it around the cuttings and water in well. The cuttings will have rooted and be ready to plant out next autumn.
If outdoor conditions are unsuitable, or the plants are either slow rooting – such as Cornus and Laburnum – or difficult to root, plant bundles of 10 to 12 cuttings in well-prepared soil in a cold frame or pot filled with moist sand until spring. In early spring, before the leaf buds break, make a trench and set out the cuttings as described above.
If you are only taking a few cuttings, there is no need to dig a trench, simply insert the cuttings into deep containers of gritty potting compost, such as a 50:50 mix of coarse grit and multi-purpose compost. Keep the pots in a sheltered cold frame or unheated greenhouse until the following autumn, ensuring that they do not dry out.