Taking cuttings is a great way to increase the stock of plants in your garden. While some cuttings are best left for the experts, there are many plants that can be very easily propagated. A winter polytunnel is the perfect place to offer a little protection to cuttings that you have placed in pots and in the spring, roots should begin to form on many of your cuttings and you will be well on the way to creating a whole lot of new plants.
Mid-autumn is a good time to think about taking hardwood cuttings. This is a good and reliable way to propagate all sorts of deciduous climbers, shrubs and trees. The ideal time to take hardwood cuttings is just after leaf fall, or just before leaf burst in the spring. While many hardwood cuttings can simply be placed outside in a trench that you have prepared earlier, others will benefit from a little extra protection, which is where a polytunnel can really come in handy. A polytunnel will also help to mitigate any risk to the cuttings from deer, rabbits or other garden pests.
If you are trying to establish fruit bushes in your polytunnel then you may be able to place your hardwood cuttings in the ground or in containers where they are to grow. This is a cost effective, though slower, way to grow your garden and can be fantastic for those who are on a tight budget.
To take hardwood cuttings, choose healthy, vital shoots that have grown in the current year. Remove the soft growth tip and cut into sections that are around 15-30cm long. Cut cleanly above a bud, making a sloping cut to let the water run off and to remind you which is the top and cut straight across the bottom of your cutting below the buds. Use a willow solution or rooting compound to improve the odds of your cutting rooting successfully.
Once you have taken hardwood cuttings, you can place these in the ground or in containers with two thirds of the cutting below the surface of the growing medium. These cuttings should not be disturbed until next autumn, when you can check for signs of rooting. All you will have to do is make sure that they do not dry out during warm weather next year.
Rooting will generally be better in a polytunnel, which can keep off the frost in most of the UK. Consider making even more use of your polytunnel by taking hardwood cuttings as soon as the leaves have fallen.