Tag Archives: blackcurrants

Free plants: the hardwood cuttings edition

First published by Rattan Direct on 2 November 2016.

Welcome to another blog post in our occasional series about taking cuttings to make plants for nothing. For nothing, that is, if you’re prepared to put in a little time now and you’re not in a hurry. That’s because hardwood cuttings take about nine to 12 months to establish a root system.

The dormant period, when plant growth has slowed to a standstill, is the best time for hardwood cuttings. This is from October to about February, just before growth starts again in the spring.

Which plants are suitable for hardwood cuttings?

This fantastic display of colour comes from various dogwood species (Cornus), at Broadview Gardens, part of Hadlow College. Hardwood cuttings.
This fantastic display of colour comes from various dogwood species (Cornus), at Broadview Gardens, part of Hadlow College.
© Nick Smith and reused under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence.
  • Many ornamental shrubs and trees including dogwoods, flowering currant, forsythia and willow.
  • Roses. If you’re renovating climbing and rambling roses you might be able to use some of the prunings.
  • Climbers like jasmine and honeysuckle.
  • Fruit bushes like gooseberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant.
  • Deciduous hedgerow trees.

How to take hardwood cuttings

  1. Take fully ripe (hard) one-year old stems, about the thickness of a pencil. You’ll be making cuttings of about 25-30cm (10-12 inches) long.
  2. Make a cut above a bud at the top (a sloping cut will mark the top and will encourage rain to run off) and below a bud at the bottom (a straight cut will mark the bottom and allow you to push the cutting into the soil easily).
  3. With redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries, remove all but the top three or four buds to create a clear stem. (Leave all the buds on blackcurrants.)
  4. Some people use hormone rooting powder to encourage root formation and to discourage rotting … and some people don’t. This year, I’m not using any and will see how it goes.
  5. You can either put hardwood cuttings round the edge of a big pot or in the open ground in a slit trench.
  6. A big pot filled with gritty potting compost (say 50:50 coarse grit and multi-purpose compost) works well if you’re only taking a few cuttings. Push them about two-thirds in, close to the edge which helps drainage. Firm them in, then water well. Keep the pots in a sheltered cold frame, unheated greenhouse or somewhere very sheltered until next autumn.
  7. To make a slit trench, drive the spade in and move it to and fro a bit. Add a good handful of grit or sharp sand. Then insert the cuttings to about two-thirds of their length, spaced 10-15cm (4-6in) apart. Firm them in, then water well.
  8. Look at the cuttings every fortnight or so and water during dry spells or if the pots are drying out. Standing pots on a tray of gravel with some water in it can help.
  9. Leave the cuttings where they are for at least 12 months or until they are making visible new top growth.
  10. Move them to their final destination next autumn or winter, the next dormant season.

More detailed advice from the Royal Horticultural Society here.

A Gardeners’ World video with David Hurrion here.

Good luck!

Winged thorn rose, Rosa sericea omeiensis pteracantha, grown from a hardwood cutting. Hardwood cuttings
Winged thorn rose, Rosa sericea omeiensis pteracantha, grown from a hardwood cutting
© peganum and re-used under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence


Summer fruit is so delicious, with cream or without

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 10 July 2016.

Wimbledon and strawberries are on our minds today, and even if you are busy baking our white chocolate and strawberry cookies here’s a reminder of other summer fruit to enjoy!

Not far from my home, Runnington Fruit Farm is selling, and inviting passers by to pick-your-own, summer fruit – raspberries, gooseberries and currants. Mine aren’t quite ready, but I am poised to pick and enjoy. Meanwhile there is a job we all need to do to help ensure a good crop of apples, pears and plums.

Act now for autumn fruit!

Apple, pear and sometimes plum trees produce more baby fruit than they can support. ‘June drop’, when trees shed fruit, is nature’s way of reducing the number of fruit. Gardeners remove some small fruits to ensure that trees can carry their load without strain (plum trees can split under the weight of too heavy a crop) and help the tree produce good sized fruit rather than lots of tiny fruit.

Thin apples. Summer fruit
Thin apples – remove small and damaged fruits to help the tree grow good sized fruits. Sarah Buchanan


Apples thinned to two fruits. Summer fruit
Apples thinned to two fruits. Sarah Buchanan

Carefully nip off tiny fruit, fruit that is in any way damaged and fruit that is rubbing against another.

Summer fruit, summer berries

Gooseberries are such an easy plant. They just don’t need much room or attention. Following my Mother’s advice that no one needs more than three gooseberry bushes, I planted three. Two years later – what a crop! The plants are horribly thorny (thornless varieties do exist), need hardly any attention, and produce enough fruit for yummy tarts and pies, and some jars of tangy jam.

Gooseberries. Summer fruit
Gooseberries are a must. These thorny plants produce a great crop, but protect your hands and arms from the thorns when you pick the fruit. Sarah Buchanan.

Raspberries like a free draining soil  that is a little bit acid, and lots of water. Different varieites, and some attention earlier in the summer, can provide delicious fruit for three or four months that make every minute you spend well worth it. Nothing tastes quite as good as fresh raspberries on breakfast cereal, or with cream in the garden after all those July jobs are done.

And the berries that are the love of my life? Mulberries.

I was fortunate to take on an old mulberry tree. My neighbours thought me mad when I climbed as high as I could and picked buckets of fruit – until they tasted the fruit. It is delicious.

Mulberry fruits. Summer fruit
Mulberries in the US. By Geniac – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4350580

I have never seen these wonderful fruits on sale in the UK, I think because they rot quickly after picking. Pick and eat (or freeze) instantly was my approach. And I shared them with neighbours, and made many good friends through conversations that started with: ‘Would you like some mulberries…’.

If you can, plant a mulberry tree. I am told they take ten years or more to fruit. I have planted a tree in each of my gardens during the past 20 years in the hope that someone in the future will, as I did, discover and share the wonderful fruits.

And what about blackberries? Yes, there will be something on this great hedgerow and garden fruit later in the summer!

Summer fruit, summer currants

Black, red and white currants are a great summer pudding ingredient. Currant bushes are thirsty and so grow well in areas with lots of rain. They ripen in June and July – just the time for summer puddings and jams. Birds are attracted to the red currants – so it’s a race against time to pick the berries for your kitchen. These bushes need more room than gooseberries but are easy to grow. Old stems should be pruned out every few years to keep young healthy growth.  Pruning that keeps the bush in shape is useful – and one of my friends did that and picked the currants in one go: pruning stems laden with currants and taking them back to her garden table, sunhat and coffee.

See you there!