THE EXTENSION CORNER — Dustin Adcock Column: Propagating woody plants in fall

Published 8:48 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

Do you have a favorite shrub or woody plant that you would love to have more of and for just a few dollars?

Many of us are gardening on a budget. You may want to try your hand at rooting some of those plants this fall or early winter.

Dustin Adcock

For your first try at stem cuttings, you might consider using one of the following species: Camelia, Glossy Abelia, Barberry, Boxwood, Fig, Holly, Juniper, Privet, Viburnum, Broom, Forsythia, Hydrangea, Rose of Sharon, Willow, Spirea and Rose.
Plants need to be fully dormant with no signs of active growth. The wood should be firm and not easily bent.

Make a cut of the stem closest to the tip generally 4 to 6 inches. Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone like RootTone (which can be purchased at most garden stores).

Stick the cut end into the potting soil. Approximately one-third of the cutting should be in the soil. Use small flower pots filled with a well-drained potting mix (this should be a bought potting mix that is sterile and free of disease).

Place Ziploc bag or other plastic container over the cutting and the lip of the pot to make a sort of greenhouse.

It is important that the bag or container have a small hole in the top to allow some air exchange. Temperature is not as important as the increased humidity by covering the cutting, so no need for direct sunlight.

Keep the soil damp by occasional watering, but make sure the leaves stay moist at all times for the first 3-4 weeks, then reduce misting to a few times per week.

Most cuttings will root in a couple of months. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight and harsh winds.

When the cuttings are rooted, you can remove the covering. Remember to keep it watered.

For best results, do not transplant the cuttings to the landscape until they have grown at least one year.

For more information, contact NC Cooperative Extension of Stanly County at 704-983-3987 or visit

Dustin Adcock is the Extension Agent, Field Crops and Horticulture, with the Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call 704-983-3987 or email