As winter settles in, now is the time to do hard wood cuttings from your woody perennials.
Anyone whom has a pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) in their garden will know that it can get quite big and rangy and about now its flowers will be looking a bit worse for wear.
So cut it back now and make some hard wood cuttings whilst you’re at it. (The following info is also relevent for rose geranium, rosemary, purple and common sage plus any deciduous plant)
When pruning back you can cut quite hard and make it into a more pleasing round shape – you may even get another whirl of flowers. When cutting back make sure your cut is just above a node where new leaves will spring forth.
From the stems you’ve cut, select a piece which is about as thick as a pencil and quite hard (not soft and pliable)
Pull away the leaves from the bottom two nodes. Make sure you pull down as you want to tear the stem a bit exposing the cambium. This part isn’t totally necessary but I do it to increase my chances of roots forming not just from the bottom cut but along the stem too.
Leave at least one leaf at the top, or lovely potential leaf buds..
I use a mix of potting mix and sand in my pots; make a hole (with dibbler or pencil) and insert your stem. Your mix should be wet enough that you don’t need to water, but watering does help your cutting settle in. Whatever you do definitely spray the leaves ASAP with a fine mist of water. This is crucial as the plant loses its moisture through it’s leaves (no roots to dry out).
You can leave your hard wood cuttings out in the open, not in direct sun though. If they are under cover, misting them regularly is a good idea, watering not so much, you don’t want your sticks to rot. Now, it won’t happen over night, they take a while to make brand new roots, for some you won’t see any movement til late spring and take more than one cutting as not all will strike.
Personally I love taking cuttings, its fun and I always learn something else every year and it widens your scope of possible plants… like a plant in your friends garden? Take a cutting! Strolling through the Botanics? oh there’s a pretty plant, deftly take a cutting!.. of course, which I do not endorse for that is quite likely not allowed and I have never, ever, no sir-ee bob, done that…..
I probably haven’t covered everything here in taking hard wood cuttings, so any questions just ask… no such thing as a stupid question! Last word of advice, keep a spare pair of secateurs in your car glovebox or handbag/man-bag/nappy-bag, you just never know…. and it’s like a total gardeners badge!