Frequently Asked Questions
When are cuttings available to purchase?
Our "Normal" season is January 1st through June 1st. Occassionally we may have cuttings available sooner or later than the dates listed, but you can count on cuttings being available during this time.
Why should I plant cuttings?
Cuttings can be the same price or less than bare root plants, so often price isn't the primary reason for planting cuttings. Here are a few reasons to consider planting cuttings rather than bare root plants:
1) Balanced growth. Cuttings develop roots and top growth at the same time, creating a balance between them. Rooted cuttings often "sleep, creep, leap" over several years because so much of the root system is lost when they are harvested.
2) Ease of planting. 2 people can easily plant 1000 cuttings a day with nothing more than a length of rebar for a pilot hole. This means you can plant in areas you would be unable to get a tree planter into. This also means there is often considerably less site preparation required. It isn't uncommon for 2 or 3 people to plant 2000+ cuttings in a single day.
3) Species availability: We are able to offer a broad range of species that are often difficult to find in traditional nurseries. Not all species grow from cuttings, but many of the species we carry are very difficult to find as bare root or potted plants.
When should I plant cuttings?
You may plant cuttings any time after the last frost. Frost will damage tender new growth, and may kill your cuttings. Planting sites in zone 3 or 4 may choose to plant as soon as the frost comes out of the ground, as the cuttings will not typically begin to grow until the soil warms into the 50 degree range. But be careful, some willows will begin to grow in soil temps as low as 37 degrees! If you are in doubt, wait until it warms up. You can plant cuttings until the end of June, as long as they receive adequate moisture to become established.
When should I order cuttings?
Early! Cuttings can only be harvested in their dormant state. In our area, we usually have to stop harvesting cuttings by April 1st. Harvested cuttings can be stored for sale in a controlled environment for several months. Many people wait until planting time to order, creating a problem for us. If you order after April 1st and we run out of stock, we can't harvest more cuttings to fill your order. Order early if you want to make sure you get what you want. We will ship your order when planting time arrives in the spring.
How do I plant cuttings?
Depending on your planting location, you can plant cuttings using one of the following methods:
Method #1: (Moist/Soft ground) If the ground is soft enough, you can simply push the cutting into the ground to the desired depth. If you are having trouble getting the cutting in the ground, chances are you need to use method #2.
Method #2: (Hard or rocky ground) Use a tool to create an opening for the cutting. You can use a length of rebar of similar diameter driven to the desired depth. After creating a pilot hole for the cutting, place the cutting in the hole and firm the soil around it by using the same tool near the cutting to firm the soil.
What kind of weed control is necessary?
Good weed control is necessary to assure your plantings success. If you are planting a high quantity for wildlife, the easiest option is to spray a non-selective herbicide prior to planting. Or you can maintain an area around the planting by spraying or cultivating around the plantings to reduce weed competition. After 1 - 2 years the plantings should not require weed control as they will be well established. You may choose to use some type of weed barrier (plastic or fabric) around your cuttings. The preferred method is to place the barrier prior to planting, then insert your cutting through the weed barrier.
Is rooting hormone required?
YES! Most willows will grow without rooting hormone, but it is a cheap insurance policy to give your cuttings the highest odds of success. You don't have to use the rooting hormone we sell here, most garden stores and landscape centers sell rooting hormone. But watch the label, if Hormodin #3 is recommended, make sure you use a hormone that is of the same strength.
Do cuttings require protection from deer?
Yes. The tender new growth of cuttings is desert to deer. If they find them they will more than likely eat them. You can protect them with fencing, tree tubes, etc. Once the plants are established they will be able to survive heavy browsing, and bounce right back. BUT, we have planted 1000's of cuttings in the wild and rarely protect them. Many of the cuttings we plant are placed in the brush of a cut down tree (tree top). This acts as a natural cage, protecting the cutting during establishment. The cutting will grow up through the top. Once it makes it out, its big enough to fend for itself. We have also planted many of them out in the open in sheer numbers. If deer densities aren't too high, many of them will survive.
Some retailers will claim many of their plants aren't desirable to deer. Maybe their's aren't but it has been our experience that ours are. Even rabbits will do damage to freshly planted trees and shrubs. If you are concerned about them, protect them. If you are planting 100's or 1000's, maybe you can afford to loose a few.
What spacing do you recommend for creating a screen?
We recommend (3) staggered rows. The rows should be 10 feet apart and the plants should be 6 feet apart.
How soon can I harvest my own cuttings from the ones I buy from BigRockTrees.com?
The planting conditions, species and growing zone have a large impact on this answer. Typically it takes 2-3 years for a cutting to grow enough to harvest cuttings from it. Exceptions are species like Hybrid Poplar. With 10+ feet of growth in a single season, obviously you can harvest cuttings much sooner.
How should I store my cuttings prior to planting?
Keep them in the sealed bags they were shipped in. Keep them cool. Keep them out of the sun (and away from any heat source). You can put them in a cooler in the garage with some ice, in the refrigerator, or in the root cellar. Stored properly most cuttings can live a week or longer. Do NOT store cuttings in a refrigerator that contains fresh fruit. The fruit releases a gas that tells the cuttings to start growing. You don't want them growing in the fridge!
I want to harvest my own cuttings, how do I do it?
Hopefully the information contained on the site has given you a pretty good idea of when to harvest (dormant season) and how to plant them. If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to shoot us an email with a question or two. We will be happy to tell you anything we know about harvesting and growing cuttings. If you buy them from us, great. If you harvest and plant your own, that's fine too.