cuttings - help a rookie out

j-bird

Moderator
I have NEVER done cuttings before and John suggested making a thread. I have a willow on my property that I would like to propagate for cover, but I have NO idea what I am doing. I need someone to walk me thru this as if I am a 3rd grader. I need pics, small words and step by step instructions. I figure other trees I might be willing to try would be sycamore, cottonwood, willow and boxelder - these are all water loving trees that hold water. I need a "mentor" in this process that has some patience as I'm going to have a lot of stupid questions.
 

Deer Kar

5 year old buck +
You took the words right out of my mouth. I was thinking the same thing. I have had people give me cuttings mostly hybrid poplar before but have zero idea how to start my own. I hope this thread takes off!!!!
 
N

non-pro-archer

Guest
I would just like to see a list of what trees are good candidates for cuttings. My dentist just told me, that you can do cuttings from crab apple trees. WTF? Never heard that before, but he has done many. Do apple trees work as well?
I would think you might get better results with a grafted seedling. A cutting would just take that much longer to fruit right?
 

brushpile

5 year old buck +
Where is John from Big Rock Trees, who I believe started this forum? John is from your neck of the woods and sells cuttings.

I few years ago Stuart Smith sent me some Hybrid Poplar and Wisconsin Weeping Willow cuttings, which I didn't think much about because they don't produce anything, but I felt obliged to plant them, flagging each one with colored tape. Later that Spring I spread Forage Sorghum which grew an impressive 8-9 feet tall. As the Summer wore on I noticed a tree sticking up behind the sorghum. I went to the tree and wouldn't have believed my eyes if it weren't for the colored tape; that tree grew 15' in one Summer! Wow, here was a new tool... if I needed a tree, a screen, a forest.... I could grow one in one year.

The next year I planted my cuttings through black plastic and grew a 20' tree in one year. In MN you can expect 8-10 feet, because of your shorter growing season. Since John and I can't show you, I found this blonde. :-)


Two find out what tree will grow from cuttings, Google the name of the tree/shrub USDA. Then click USDA Plant Profile, then click Characteristics and scroll down to Reproduction. I just Googled USDA Elderberry and the USDA is WRONG! Elderberry grows very well from cuttings, Oh wellthe process is what's important, and the USDA is seldom wrong. Here's what I found:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/charProfile?symbol=SANIC4

I'm sure there will be questions and this will be a long thread. I could write a book... John started Big Rock Trees, and Stuart has always been my go to guy. Questions?
 

brushpile

5 year old buck +
I would think you might get better results with a grafted seedling. A cutting would just take that much longer to fruit right?
It's pretty hard to get grow a fruit tree from a cutting, but I've done it. A fruit tree grown from a cutting will be a "Standard tree", which will take about 10 years to produce fruit; the same as planting a seed. A grafted tree is two trees.... the tree from below the graft..........and the tree from above the graft. If you want apples in about 2-3 years plant a grafted tree and remember fruit tree cuttings are difficult to grow and take too long to produce fruit.
 

LessRice

5 year old buck +
Very good topic, this is something that I have been looking at getting into and have a bunch of questions too.

How will cuttings do in sandy soil?
If I wanted to do clusters of trees, would it be beneficial to make 2'x2' weed mats to plant each individual cutting in?
Do the weed mats need to be removed at some point?
What is the best time to harvest Red Osier and HP cuttings?
 

sandbur

5 year old buck +
For hybrid poplar, I cut them before bud break. Late winter was OK. I planted them as soon as the frost went out. The willows I just cut as soon as the frost went out and stuck them in the ground the same day.
 

j-bird

Moderator
I will watch the video - I have a crap connection and will then start with my onslaught of questions. I want thank everyone for their insight on this topic. Growing trees from sticks is an interesting concepet to me. I realize not everything will grow in this manner, but it looks like a great way to get woody cover quickly.
 

Bill

Administrator
It is...once you get some trees from shoving a stick in the ground you'll be pretty much hooked


I'll say, but there are some pitfalls you can run into.

For me deer are a major issue. If you have high DPSM your cuttings must be protected. I've found the only sure fire way is a double electric fence.

Lumite and black plastic will girdle your cuttings after the first growing season. (Hard lesson learned). You have to go back and cut your ground cover material.

Some ground cover, plastics or lumite is a must for weed control.

Deer will walk over and poke holes in thin strips of plastic opening up a place for lush weed growth. Brad says larger blocks of plastic keep the deer from walking on it. I've never tried that.

And some cuttings can't tolerate being planted through black ground cover. Brushpile will have to say which because, I just don't remember as I stick to cuttings that I know will.

I don't know how much help I'll be on this topic. My specialty seems to be killing them. :). I've probably poked close to 30,000 cutting in the ground over the last 5 years. My survival rate is about 20%. Don't let me scare you off though. The first 10,000 were poked in the ground unprotected and unmulched. Then we had a 2 year drought.

Oh, and as I type this there is a fork horn working over one of my poplars because the girls pay him no mind and he needs a release. I'll have to go back and cut those off below the rub in the spring.

It is an addiction though, once you start you're hooked.

Great to see you here Brad.
 

scott44

5 year old buck +
When taking/making cuttings how far back do you go and what are you looking for?
 

Bill

Administrator
When taking/making cuttings how far back do you go and what are you looking for?

A straight section of a branch, newer growth is better. They can be anywhere from 3" to feet long. Just try and get at least 2/3 or more in the ground.

I like 12 to 24 inch cuttings so they are deeper in the ground giving them a better chance to find moisture. I've have planted thousands of Johns 9 inch poplar cutting with good success. Except during the drought years, but that's Mother Nature.
 

scott44

5 year old buck +
A straight section of a branch, newer growth is better. They can be anywhere from 3" to feet long. Just try and get at least 2/3 or more in the ground.

I like 12 to 24 inch cuttings so they are deeper in the ground giving them a better chance to find moisture. I've have planted thousands of Johns 9 inch poplar cutting with good success. Except during the drought years, but that's Mother Nature.

Thanks Bill!
 

Riggsgwp->

5 year old buck +
[QUOTE="smsmith, post: 27088,
Anybody in central MN with some hybrid willows (Austrees) that would be willing to share a buttload of cuttings...I'd sure appreciate it. I'll do the work if you have the trees and are willing to part with the cuttings.:)[/QUOTE]
I planted 100 hybrid willows this spring but I'm guessing they'd be too young for cutting.
 

Riggsgwp->

5 year old buck +
I'm going to order a bunch from John, I don't know if he does volume discounts but let me know if you plan on ordering any.
 

UP Powers

5 year old buck +
I use the cheap landscape fabric and never had a girdle. If I am growing the hybrid poplars here is what I do in the spring.

1. Take a bunch of cutting from either your own trees or buy them from John. I can tell you if you order 25 and he knows you at the site, there will be WAY more than 25. ;)

2. I take the cuttings and put them in a 5 gallon bucket with a lot of water in it.

3. After a week in the water. You will notice a ton of these little bumps on the stick. Those will be the roots. You can leave them in a week longer if you want or plant them now. I normally do them about 2 weeks.

4. Make sure NOT to keep them in the fridge. Just keep them warm and wet. ;)

5. Stick them in the ground.

6. Put the landscape fabric on it and the stick should poke a hole through it with a small knife or scissors.

7. put a tube on them or an enclosure.

8. Go to the next one.

Seriously. not rocket science. Actually simple. I think the trick is the water. Oh... I do say sometimes I throw a little water polymer down the hole when planting.

I would say very very simple to planting. Soak them and you will have great success. Plus you will see immediately the ones that don't take.
 

brushpile

5 year old buck +
Hardwood cuttings are made from the budded branches of last years growth. So the new growth from this growing season is what you'll make cuttings from next year. You'll see the buds, they're very easy to see.

Cut lengths, the longer the better, but when planted 2/3rds go into the ground. I carry a pruning shears with me when I plant so I can cut off tops that are too long. The 2/3rd rule is so that there are enough roots to support new growth, and in sandy soil cuttings need to find water. When I plant I use a length or rebar to make a pilot hole and drop the cutting in the hole.

I've grown cuttings without weed mats, but weed mats are really a must. Anything that holds moisture and blocks weeds will work. I Initially used cardboard, house wrap, and lumber wrap. Then I used black plastic, the type sold at farm stores for covering piles of foliage, discovered that black plastic worked wonders.

Then I discovered Lumite, which is made for planting trees. Initially I rolled out lengths of Lumite, but then I needed to thin my cutting to a 5-6 foot spacing after one year and eventually I thinned to 15 feet, so a 50 foot stretch of Lumite only had three trees in it..... seemed like an awful waste, so now I cut 6' x 6' squares. 6' x 6' will seem too big, but it'll look too small in a year or two. The weed mat does much more than control weeds, it's a moisture barrier. Water is always evaporating from the ground, even in a desert. That water will be trapped under black plastic and Lumite, so the cutting always have water, and growth explodes.

Bill commented about my deer not stepping on black plastic. That's because my deer are pursued by Ozark rednecks year round, and are shell shocked. My deer won't eat out of my corn feeder either. Now my deer have grown accustomed to black plastic and Lumite so, if you have many deer you'll need to buy cheap rigid mesh tubes:

http://www.benmeadows.com/rigid-seedling-protector-tubes_36811405/?searchterm=Rigid+mesh+tubes

All cuttings can grow in black plastic, and everything grows in Lumite, because Lumite breathes. When researching the tree you're planting, check the USDA Profile and Characteristics. It the plant has low anaerobic tolerance, then plastic can smother the tree and deprive it of oxygen, however, all cuttings can be planted in black plastic, it was only when I put plack plastic around trees like pin and some oaks that I experienced problems. Trees that can be submerged in water are anaerobic tolerant and black plastic will work fine for them.

After a cutting had grown 4-5 feet an X needs to be cut in the plastic or Lumite so the trunk has room to grow. The following year the X will need to be enlarged to the size the trunk will grow in 5-7 years, at which time the Lumite or plastic should biodegrade.
 

UP Powers

5 year old buck +
deer not stepping on black plastic because they are pursued by ozark rednecks year round and are shell shocked. hehehheheheheh That is funny to the core.
 

brushpile

5 year old buck +
I usually take my cuttings and plant them the same day, with no muss no fuss. Make sure to plant them right side up. Every year I'll find one or two planted upside down so I just pul them up and turn them around.
 

j-bird

Moderator
OK - watched the video and now the questions begin.

Does the diameter of the cuttings matter? Does a specific number of buds on the cutting matter? Is there any advantage to using larger diameter and long lengths for cuttings? Do you need to use rooting hormone?
 

Bill

Administrator
2. I take the cuttings and put them in a 5 gallon bucket with a lot of water in it.

3. After a week in the water. You will notice a ton of these little bumps on the stick. Those will be the roots. You can leave them in a week longer if you want or plant them now. I normally do them about 2 weeks.

5. Stick them in the ground.

That's interesting. Do you have to dig a hole so you don't break the bumps off?

Sure would give them a jump but I don't like digging.

OK - watched the video and now the questions begin.

Does the diameter of the cuttings matter? Does a specific number of buds on the cutting matter? Is there any advantage to using larger diameter and long lengths for cuttings? Do you need to use rooting hormone?

Diameter doesn't matter other than thicker ones go in easier.

Number of buds shouldn't matter as long as there are 2/3 more under the ground than above. (Some species it's hard to see a bud.)

The longer the better in my book. More length under the ground means more moisture to the cutting.

Rotting hormone is a good idea on everything but willows and poplars. They don't need it.

And if no one mentioned don't plant the cutting upside down. The direction growing up has to stay out of the ground. Johns cutting come with point that goes down. Makes it easy.
 
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