How Cuttings Work
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Simply "Dip" the bottom of cutting in hormone, tap off the excess, and the cutting is ready to plant.
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 tems as low as 37 degrees! If you are in doubt, wait until it warms up.
Cuttings are typically planted nearly flush with the surface of the soil with 1 or more buds exposed above the surface. These buds will become the main “trunk” of the shrub or tree. In all cases leave no more than 1/3 of the cutting above ground.
Root establishment is the most important factor in a cuttings first year. It may seem a little strange sticking the whole cutting in the ground, but the faster the root system gets established, the sooner you will have the mature planting you are looking for.
Some planting sites may require a pilot hole to be created prior to planting the cutting. If the ground is too hard, don’t damage the cutting while trying to insert it to the desired depth. Use a planting bar or similar tool to create an opening to place the cutting into. After placing the cutting, use the planting bar to firm the soil around the cutting by placing it into the ground immediately adjacent to the planted cutting. Buds MUST face up when planting.
Post planting care:
All cuttings require adequate moisture to become established. If the soil is too dry, either plan to water for the first 2 growing seasons or choose another location. Low soil moisture will almost assure none of the cuttings will become established.
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. A good barrier should extend 24" - 48" in all directions.