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Frequently Asked Questions


When are cuttings available to purchase?

We begin taking orders for spring delivery on January 1st of each season.  We continue to accept orders through approximately June 1st depending on the weather of that season.  Shipments are scheduled near the last frost date for your USDA planting zone (shipping address not billing address).  For our current seasons standard ship dates please see our Shipping Dates page.

 

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.  In all cases, keep an eye on the cuttings.  If roots start to form, or if the buds begin to swell, it's time to get them in the ground!

 

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.

 

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 of similar diameter of the cutting 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.

 

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.

 

Do cuttings require protection from deer?

Yes.  The tender new growth of cuttings is dessert 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, it's 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 theirs 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 lose a few.

 

What kind of weed control is necessary?

Good weed control is REQUIRED to assure your plantings success. The most effective method of weed control is to install a ground cover made from plastic or woven fabric first, and plant your cuttings through the ground cover.  This will effectively control weeds and retain moisture throughout the growing season.  If a ground cover isn't used, another method of weed control will be required.  You may use herbicides or mechanical methods to keep the weeds down.  Although with these methods, you won't gain the moisture retention a ground cover provides.

 

Is rooting hormone required?

Rooting hormone is not required on the hybrids and willows we carry.  They all grow just fine without hormone.  You only need hormone on harder to root species. 

 

What spacing do you recommend for creating a screen?

Please see our Planning Screens page for more details regarding how to plant a screen.

 

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.

 

I want to harvest my own cuttings, how do I do it?

Cuttings must be harvested during the dormant season.  Select straight, healthy portions of the parent plant (preferably from 1 year old growth).  Remove all side branches prior to storage.  Harvested cuttings should be stored in sealed bags at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cuttings can be stored for up to 6 months provided they are sealed and not allowed to dehydrate.

The easiest way to harvest your own cuttings is to time your harvest after the frost has left the ground but before the plants break dormancy.  This will allow you to harvest and plant the cuttings the same day (or nearly so).

 

Why should I plant 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.  Bare root plantings 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.