How To Propagate Hardwood Edibles

With a bit of knowledge and patience you may never have to buy a semi-hardwood or hardwood plant again.

Propagating plants from cuttings is super easy and now – coming into winter – is the perfect time to start off your semi-hardwood cuttings.

How To Propagate Hardwood Edibles

Semi-hardwood cuttings

Semi-hardwood plants are ones which form brown (called lignified) bark, but whose new growth is green. Plants like  rosemary, lavender, blueberries and wormwood are classified as semi-hardwood, as these plants form woody older growth where green or new growth will appear from. These plants may not go completely dormant in winter, but now is the best time to collect cuttings if you want to propagate more to share with friends or spread around your garden.

To collect your semi-hardwood cuttings you’ll want woody stems that have new green growth towards the tip. Cut a stem from the parent plant and trim the base of your cutting to just below a node, which is where a leaf has grown from. Strip off the lower leaves of about two-three nodes as these will be below the soil and is where roots will form. 

How To Propagate Hardwood Edibles

Leaving at least two nodes above the soil, trim back any leaves which are left to about half their length and, if your cutting is still in flower, remove these too, as flowers and too much leaf growth will take away much-needed moisture and energy. Mix up some good-quality potting mix with a few handfuls of sand for assisted drainage before filling a seedling tray or pot with your potting mix.

Dip the base of your cutting in a rooting hormone. This can either be in a gel, liquid or powder form and will assist in root quicker development. So as to not damage the nodes, use a dibbler or pencil to create a hole for your cutting and gently pop it into the hole. Gently push the potting mix around the cutting to ensure there are no air pockets and your cutting is nice and secure. Gently water in your cuttings. 

propagation of plants

Cut the base off a milk bottle and carefully place it upside-down over the top of your cuttings to form a small greenhouse, remove the bottle top to allow for air flow. Or if you have a seedling tray with a clear lid, place this on with vents open. Keep an eye on your potting mix, and remove the covers if the soil is staying too wet and or mildew is present. If the mix remains too moist for too long, the cuttings will rot rather than develop new roots. 

propagation of plants

Hardwood cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are from plants that have gone completely dormant in the winter. Think about plants like grapevines, lemon verbena, elderberries, mulberries and even fig trees. The best time to take the cuttings are when these plants are fully dormant in the depths of winter.

When collecting your hardwood cuttings, cut from the parent plant just below a node just as you did with the semi-hardwood cuttings, but make sure it’s from this year’s growth. Also ensure the cutting is straight with no damage or disease present, and that it has at least four nodes.

planting hardwood edibles

As with semi-hardwood cuttings, nodes can be seen as bumps on the cutting where a leaf has grown from in the previous season – this is where roots will grow from below the soil and where the new growth will appear from above the soil in spring.

Using the same blend of well-draining and good-quality potting mix, fill a tray or wide pot.  Dip your cuttings again in a rooting hormone and use a dibbler to make a hole to place your cutting into. Water in well, cover, allow for airflow and place your pot somewhere sunny and warm.


If you’re unsure as to whether you can grow a certain plant from a cutting, just give it a go. There are so many plants that you can strike from cuttings, so it’s worth collecting as much plant material as you can and having a go. You might just surprise yourself.

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