One of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is taking cuttings of your favourite plants, magically multiplying their numbers for free. Here's how to master it in your own garden. 

We’ve got a couple of blackcurrant bushes in our gardens that, having taken a couple of years to properly establish, are now bountiful in their summer harvest, providing us with hundreds of deep purple jewels for turning into delicious jam.

black currant bush

But we’re greedy for fresh fruit and want to use their tart currant-y goodness to make one of our favourite liqueurs, crème de cassis, so this autumn we’re going to take some cuttings and load up the allotment with a few new bushes.

Taking blackcurrant cuttings is easy, and the same technique can be applied to other hardwood fruits such as gooseberries, red currants and even figs. Here’s how to set about the task…


When do I take cuttings?

Cuttings should be taken during the plant’s dormant period—mid-autumn through to winter—any time after the leaves have been shed and before new spring growth kicks in.

This gives you plenty of time to carry out the task, although you should suspend cutting activity during periods of frost.


What part of the plant should I use?

To get the healthiest plants possible, select the healthiest looking stem from your bush, chosen from the current year’s growth.

Grab some clean, sharp secateurs and snip it off at the base.


How do I prepare my cuttings?

First, remove any soft growth from the top of the stem. You can then divide the stem into cuttings of 20-30cm in length, trimming each one just below a bud for the base of your cutting and just above a bud for the top.

Make sure the top cut is sloping to allow rainwater to slide off it.


Where do I plant my cuttings?

You can either plant cuttings in the ground or containers—in either case, the soil should be well-drained.

Some people like to dip the base of their cuttings into hormone rooting powder to help get those roots started and prevent fungal infection, although this isn’t a necessity.


How do I plant my cuttings?

If you’re planting in the ground, dig a narrow trench (roughly two fingers width) at depth of about half the length of your cuttings.

Put a layer of sharp sand or grit at the base of the trench, then drop in your cuttings, making sure to put them in the correct way up (that sloping cut will indicate the top). Firm the soil back around the sticks and give them a good watering.

For container planting, simply mix some grit in with your preferred potting compost and plant them up to the same depth. The pots should be placed in a sheltered position.


How do I look after my cuttings?

All you need to do now is wait, giving them a water if the soil starts to dry out. Leave them alone until the following dormant season when they’re ready to be transplanted into their new homes.


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Nick and Rich run the website and their home grown booze recipe book, Brew it Yourself, is out now

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