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Anne K Moore
Photographs courtesy of Dramm ColorPoint™ Tools

Early winter is the best and easiest time to propagate shrubs and trees. To make new plants, take ripe cuttings from the parent shrub or tree just below a node. (A node is the swollen site where a leaf is or was attached.) Choose sturdy thick pieces for your cuttings. As you harvest, place the cuttings in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel to keep them moist.

Prepare the pots for cuttings. You can use little 4 inch pots or even cell packs for small cuttings. Gallon containers work best for large cuttings and can hold more than one. Fill the containers of choice with peat, sand, perlite, or vermiculite. Using plastic pots helps to retain moisture.

When you take your cuttings, remember which way is up. The tops of plants won’t root! There is no more economical way to increase your garden hoard than by growing your own from what you have in your yard. To get step-by-step instruction on propagating winter cuttings, go to and

If you want to have quick success, try hydrangeas. Hydrangeas, along with anything in the willow family, are the easiest of all to propagate.

To take cuttings from your prized ornamentals, be sure to use the right tool for the job. Which is the correct tool? Wonder no more. Dramm’s Cutting Tools 101 shows the difference in cutting design.

Hedge Shear
Use Hedge Shears to shape and lightly trim hedges and shrubs. Since hedge shears are not particular about the size of the material you are cutting, it is not suited to take cuttings for propagation. It is, however, perfect to put those overgrown hedges and untidy shrubs into a hedgerow or submissive art form.

Bypass Lopper
Use bypass loppers for cutting live, woody branches up to 1½” in diameter. Bypass blades cut cleanly and are designed for cutting live branches when continued growth is desired. Use bypass loppers in the spring and summer, before the plant is getting ready for its winter sleep; or wait until the plant is dormant before cutting live branches. You do not want to force more growth just before winter cold and winds arrive. 

Telescoping Bypass Lopper
Use bypass loppers for cutting live, woody branches up to 1 ½” in diameter. Telescoping handles quickly and easily extend from 24” to 31”. Bypass blades cut cleanly and their design is perfect for cutting live branches. Using the Telescoping Bypass Lopper in the four seasons is the same as the regular Bypass Lopper: Yes in spring, summer, and winter, no in fall.





Compact Pruner
Use the compact pruner for most of your garden pruning. The bypass blade has a cutting capacity of 1/4”. This blade is made for trimming back perennials and annuals; perfect for deadheading those spent flower heads.



Bypass Pruner
Bypass Pruners are midsize and designed for pruning woody stems up to 5/8”. The bypass blade action cuts cleanly through green branches allowing healthy future regrowth. This is the pruner to use when you want to propagate cuttings. It will cut through a substantial branch cleanly.

Compact Shear
Use Compact Shears for cutting and shaping flowers. Its narrow, pointed tip makes it easy to get between tight stems. Use it to thin out overgrown and floppy perennials, bringing light to the middle of the mass.



Garden Scissor
Use Garden Scissors for tidying up. They are a handy item that fits well in the palm of your hand, good for precise cutting. These are best used to cut flower stems for those late season bouquets. You can also use them to cut garden twine, while tying your plants to stakes.





For information on another propagation technique, air layering, go to this article by Master Gardener Donna Denton,

GardenSMART is happy to welcome Dramm Tools as a sponsor. Dramm strives to produce quality products that save time and energy that will last a lifetime. There are six rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and berry. Now gardeners can choose a color to fit their personality and, as a bonus, the bright colors will not get lost in the lawn. Dramm tools are available at fine retail stores nationwide. For more information, contact Jessica Reinhardt Professional Quality for Life at

Posted October 10, 2014

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