How to Take Hawthorn Cuttings UK? 4 best careful cutting techniques

Unlock the secrets of nature’s delicate artistry with the captivating skill of propagating hawthorn cuttings in the United Kingdom.

Delve into the enchanting world of horticulture as we embark on a journey, revealing the mystifying techniques that allow you to harness the boundless beauty of hawthorn trees.

Whether you seek to preserve cherished varieties or cultivate new growth, this guide will empower you to master the art of taking hawthorn cuttings, transforming your surroundings into a flourishing tapestry of life.

Discover the timeless wisdom of nature’s propagation dance and unlock the gates to a world brimming with vibrant foliage and flourishing blooms, all from the comfort of your own green haven in the United Kingdom.

Get ready to embark on a remarkable adventure that will leave you spellbound by the magic of hawthorn propagation.

How to Take Hawthorn Cuttings UK

Table of Contents

How to Take Hawthorn Cuttings UK?

Hawthorn Cuttings:

Hawthorn cuttings refer to the vegetative propagation method of reproducing hawthorn plants (genus Crataegus) by using cuttings from existing plants.

Hawthorns are deciduous shrubs or small trees commonly found in temperate regions around the world. They are known for their attractive flowers, colorful berries, and thorny branches.

To propagate hawthorns through cuttings, a healthy stem or branch segment is cut from a mature hawthorn plant during the appropriate season, typically in late winter or early spring.

The cutting is usually around 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) long and includes both the current year’s growth and a section of older wood.

After collecting the cutting, the lower leaves are removed, and the base of the cutting is treated with a rooting hormone to promote root development.

The cutting is then planted in a well-draining potting mix or directly into the ground in a prepared nursery bed.

The cuttings are placed in a suitable environment with adequate moisture and temperature control, usually a greenhouse or a sheltered area, to encourage root formation.

Benefits of Using Cuttings for Propagation:

Cost-effectiveness: Taking cuttings is a cost-effective method compared to purchasing saplings or seeds.

Preservation of desired traits: Cuttings allow for the preservation and propagation of specific hawthorn varieties with desired characteristics such as flower color, fruit size, or growth habit.

Quicker maturity: Cuttings have the potential to mature faster compared to other propagation methods, resulting in quicker establishment and growth of new hawthorn plants.

Best Time to Take Hawthorn Cuttings in the UK:

Spring: Explain that spring is generally the optimal time to take hawthorn cuttings in the UK.

Softwood cuttings: Early to mid-spring when new growth is emerging and the stems are still flexible.

Semi-hardwood cuttings: Late spring when the stems have started to harden but are not fully mature.

Alternative options: Briefly mention that hardwood cuttings can be taken in late autumn or winter when the hawthorn tree is dormant.

It is important to note that specific timings may vary depending on the hawthorn species and local climate conditions, so it is advisable to consult regional gardening resources or experts for more precise timing guidance.

Preparation to Take Hawthorn Cuttings

Selecting a Healthy Donor Plant:

Identifying Suitable Hawthorn Varieties:

When identifying suitable hawthorn varieties, there are several factors to consider. Here are some important considerations to help you choose the right hawthorn variety for your needs:

Climate and Hardiness: Hawthorns have different hardiness zones, so it’s crucial to choose a variety that can thrive in your specific climate. Make sure the variety you select is suitable for your region’s temperature range and growing conditions.

Purpose: Determine the purpose for which you are planting hawthorn. Some varieties are primarily ornamental, while others are known for their fruit production. If you want hawthorn primarily for its fruits, look for varieties with large, flavorful berries.

Size and Shape: Consider the size and shape of the hawthorn tree or shrub. Some varieties are compact and suitable for small gardens or container planting, while others grow into larger trees. Determine the available space you have and choose a variety that fits well within that space.

Flowering and Fruiting Season: Hawthorn varieties differ in their flowering and fruiting seasons. If you want to enjoy the blossoms, look for varieties with attractive flowers that bloom during your preferred time of the year.

Similarly, if you desire hawthorn fruits for culinary purposes or wildlife attraction, select a variety with fruits that ripen when you desire.

Disease Resistance: Some hawthorn varieties are more resistant to common diseases, such as rust or fire blight. If disease resistance is a concern in your area, choose a variety known for its resistance to ensure a healthier and more robust plant.

Pollination: If you’re planting hawthorns for fruit production, consider whether the variety requires cross-pollination or if it is self-fertile. Some hawthorns need another compatible variety nearby for successful pollination and fruit set.

Local Recommendations: Seek advice from local horticultural experts, nurseries, or agricultural extension offices. They can provide valuable insights into which hawthorn varieties perform well in your area and are suitable for your specific needs.

By considering these factors, you can narrow down your options and choose a hawthorn variety that will thrive in your climate, suit your purpose, and meet your preferences.

Assessing the Health and Vigor of the Plant:

  • The significance of choosing a healthy donor plant for successful propagation.
  • Look for signs of good health, including robust foliage, vibrant color, and absence of pests or diseases.
  • Check for strong, well-formed branches and an overall sturdy structure.

Considering the Desired Characteristics of the Cuttings:

When taking hawthorn cuttings, considering the desired characteristics is essential to ensure that the propagated plants possess the traits you desire. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Variety: If you have a specific hawthorn variety in mind, ensure that the cuttings you take are from that particular variety. This ensures that the propagated plants will have the same characteristics, such as flower color, fruit size, or growth habit, as the parent plant.

Health and Vigor: Select healthy, disease-free branches for taking cuttings. Choose branches that show vigorous growth, without any signs of pests, diseases, or stress. Healthy cuttings are more likely to root successfully and develop into robust plants.

Flowering and Fruiting Traits: If you have specific preferences for the flowering or fruiting characteristics of the hawthorn, choose branches that exhibit those traits. For example, if you want abundant blossoms or large fruit, select branches that display these features.

Growth Habit: Consider the growth habit of the hawthorn variety you desire. Some hawthorns have an upright, columnar shape, while others may be more spreading or weeping. Choose branches that represent the growth habit you prefer.

Climate Adaptability: If you have specific climate conditions in your area, consider the adaptability of the hawthorn variety. Select branches from hawthorns that are known to thrive in your climate zone, ensuring they will be well-suited to your local conditions.

Local Recommendations: Seek advice from local horticultural experts, nurseries, or agricultural extension offices. They can provide insights into suitable hawthorn varieties or specific characteristics that perform well in your specific area.

Rooting Potential: Some hawthorn varieties have better rooting potential than others. If you have prior knowledge or experience with certain varieties that root easily, choose branches from those varieties to increase the success rate of your cuttings.

By considering these desired characteristics, you can increase the likelihood of propagating hawthorn plants with the traits you desire. Take care to use proper techniques for taking cuttings, provide appropriate care during rooting, and monitor the progress of your propagated plants to ensure their successful establishment.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials:

When gathering the necessary tools and materials to take hawthorn cuttings, here are some items you may need:

Pruning Shears or Secateurs: Used to make clean and precise cuts when taking the cuttings. Make sure the blades are sharp and sterilize them with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution before and after use to prevent the spread of diseases.

Clean, Sharp Knife: A clean and sharp knife can be helpful for taking more intricate cuttings or preparing the base of the cuttings for rooting.

Rooting Hormone: Optional but recommended, rooting hormone can help improve the success rate of the cuttings by promoting root development. Choose a rooting hormone powder or gel specifically formulated for woody plant cuttings.

Growing Medium: Prepare a suitable growing medium for rooting the hawthorn cuttings. A mix of equal parts perlite and peat moss or a well-draining potting mix can be used. Make sure the medium is moist but not waterlogged.

Planting Pots or Containers: Select small pots or containers with drainage holes to plant the hawthorn cuttings. Plastic pots are commonly used for rooting cuttings, but any container that provides adequate drainage will work.

Plastic Bag or Propagation Dome: Covering the cuttings with a clear plastic bag or using a propagation dome helps create a humid environment that aids in root development. This helps prevent excessive moisture loss from the cuttings.

Watering Can or Spray Bottle: Use a watering can with a fine rose attachment or a spray bottle to mist the cuttings and keep the growing medium moist without overwatering.

Labels: It’s essential to label the cuttings with the variety and date of taking to keep track of their progress.

Clean and Sterile Workspace: Ensure your workspace, tools, and containers are clean and free from debris or contaminants that could harm the cuttings.

Optional: Heat Mat or Propagation Tray: If you’re propagating the hawthorn cuttings in a controlled environment, a heat mat or propagation tray with bottom heat can help enhance root development and increase success rates.

Remember to follow proper techniques for taking and rooting hawthorn cuttings to maximize their chances of success. It’s also a good idea to consult local horticultural experts or resources specific to your area for guidance on the best practices for propagating hawthorns in your region.

Taking Hawthorn Cuttings

Choosing the Appropriate Cutting Type:

Softwood Cuttings:

  • Softwood cuttings are taken from young, flexible, and actively growing shoots.
  • This type of cutting is typically harvested in early to mid-spring when new growth is emerging.
  • Softwood cuttings are suitable for hawthorn varieties that root easily and quickly.
  • Select shoots that are green, pliable, and without any signs of hardening or lignification.

Semi-hardwood Cuttings:

Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from partially mature stems that have started to harden but are not fully mature.

These cuttings are generally harvested in late spring or early summer.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are suitable for hawthorn varieties that may take longer to root or require more time for callusing.

Choose stems that are firm and have partially developed buds.

Hardwood Cuttings:

Hardwood cuttings are taken from fully mature, woody stems during the dormant season, typically in late autumn or winter.

This type of cutting is suitable for hawthorn varieties that have a more challenging rooting process or require a longer period to establish roots.

Select mature branches with no signs of active growth, and remove any leaves or buds from the cutting.
Hardwood cuttings tend to have a lower success rate compared to softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings, but they are a viable option for certain hawthorn varieties.

The specific timing for taking hawthorn cuttings may vary based on the local climate and the specific hawthorn species or variety being propagated. It is recommended to research or consult local gardening resources for precise timing guidance.

Cutting Technique:

Proper Angle and Location for Cutting:

When taking hawthorn cuttings, make a clean cut just below a node (the point where leaves or buds emerge).

Use sharp pruning shears or a knife to ensure a smooth and precise cut.

Cut at a 45-degree angle to increase the surface area for rooting and water absorption.

Removing Leaves and Excess Foliage:

Strip the lower leaves from the bottom third to half of the cutting.

This reduces water loss and directs energy towards root development.

Retain a few leaves at the top to allow photosynthesis and provide some energy for the cutting.

Handling the Cuttings with Care:

Handle the cuttings gently to avoid damaging the delicate tissues.

Hold the cutting by the stem or leafy portion to prevent unnecessary stress on the cutting.

Avoid excessive bending or twisting of the stems.

Optional Use of Rooting Hormone:

  • Rooting hormone can be applied to the cut end of the hawthorn cutting to promote root formation.
  • Dip the cut end of the cutting into powdered or gel-based rooting hormone, ensuring full coverage.
  • Shake off any excess hormone texcessive concentrations that may hinder rooting.o prevent

Note: While rooting hormone is optional, it can increase the chances of successful root development, especially for more difficult-to-root hawthorn varieties. Follow the instructions provided with the rooting hormone product for the recommended application method and concentration.

Preparing the Cuttings for Rooting

Trimming and Preparing the Cut Ends:

Cutting Above the Node:

Using sharp pruning shears or a knife, make a clean cut just above a node on the hawthorn cutting.
The node is the point where leaves or buds emerge, and cutting above it encourages new growth.

Removing Any Side Branches or Buds:

  • Carefully remove any side branches or buds from the lower portion of the cutting.
  • Focus on creating a clean and uniform stem for optimal rooting and callusing.
  • Leave a few sets of leaves at the top of the cutting to support photosynthesis.

Creating a Clean, Slanted Cut:

Make a slanted cut just below the node, removing excess material from the cutting.

A slanted cut exposes a larger surface area for water absorption and enhances rooting potential.

Ensure the cut is clean and free of jagged edges, as this promotes healing and reduces the risk of disease.

Note: It’s important to maintain cleanliness throughout the process and handle the cuttings with care to prevent damage or infection. Dispose of any pruned material or leaves properly to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

B. Treating the Cuttings:

Dipping the Cut Ends in a Rooting Hormone (Optional):

If desired, dip the cut end of each hawthorn cutting into a rooting hormone powder or gel.

The rooting hormone helps stimulate root growth and increases the chances of successful rooting.

Follow the instructions provided with the rooting hormone product for the correct dipping method and recommended duration.

Allowing the Cut Ends to Dry (Callusing):

After treating the cut ends with or without rooting hormone, allow them to dry or callus before planting.

Place the cuttings in a well-ventilated area with indirect light to encourage callusing.

This process helps seal the wound and reduces the risk of rot or infection.

Depending on the hawthorn variety and environmental conditions, callusing may take several days to a few weeks.

Note: Proper handling and hygiene are essential during the treatment process. Avoid excessive handling of the cut ends to prevent damage or dislodging of the rooting hormone.

Additionally, maintain a clean environment to minimize the risk of disease or fungal infections.

Planting the Cuttings

Preparing the Rooting Medium:

Choosing an Appropriate Mix:

Select a well-draining rooting medium for planting the hawthorn cuttings.

An ideal mix can consist of equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.

Alternatively, a commercial seed starting mix or a mixture of sand and peat moss can also be used.

The rooting medium should provide sufficient moisture retention while allowing excess water to drain away.

Ensuring Proper Drainage and Aeration:

Ensure that the containers or pots you are using for planting have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Good drainage is crucial to avoid waterlogged conditions that can lead to root rot and poor growth.
Place a layer of small stones or broken pottery pieces at the bottom of the container to further enhance drainage.

This layer acts as a barrier to prevent the drainage holes from becoming blocked by the rooting medium.

Note: Proper hygiene is important during the planting process. Clean and sterilize the containers or pots before use to minimize the risk of disease or fungal infections. Handle the cuttings carefully to avoid damaging the callused ends or disturbing the rooting medium.

Inserting the Cuttings:

Creating Planting Holes or Using Containers:

If using individual containers, fill them with the prepared rooting medium, leaving a small space at the top for watering.

If planting directly into the ground, create planting holes in the desired location, ensuring they are deep enough to accommodate the length of the hawthorn cuttings.

Planting the Cuttings at the Correct Depth:

Insert the prepared hawthorn cuttings into the planting holes or containers.

Ensure the cuttings are planted at the correct depth, typically around two-thirds of their length.

The top set of leaves should be positioned just above the surface of the rooting medium or soil.

Firmly press the rooting medium around the base of the cuttings to provide stability and contact between the stem and the medium.

Providing Spacing Between the Cuttings:

Maintain proper spacing between the hawthorn cuttings to allow air circulation and prevent overcrowding.

Provide enough space for each cutting to develop roots and grow without competition.

The recommended spacing between cuttings is typically around 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) to ensure adequate room for growth.

Note: After planting, water the cuttings gently to settle the rooting medium around the stems. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting.

Place the containers or pots in a location with indirect light, providing the right balance of warmth and humidity for root development. Regularly monitor the moisture levels and mist the cuttings occasionally to maintain the desired humidity.

Caring for the Cuttings

How to Take Hawthorn Cuttings UK

Providing the Ideal Growing Conditions:

Temperature and Light Requirements:

Place the hawthorn cuttings in an area that receives bright, indirect light.

Maintain a temperature range of 65-75°F (18-24°C) for optimal root development.

Avoid exposing the cuttings to direct sunlight, as it can cause excessive drying or heat stress.

Proper Watering Techniques:

Keep the rooting medium evenly moist but not waterlogged.

Water the cuttings when the top inch of the rooting medium feels slightly dry to the touch.

Use a gentle stream of water or a spray bottle to moisten the medium, ensuring it reaches the roots without disturbing the cuttings.

Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rot or fungal issues.

Protecting from Extreme Weather Conditions:

Shield the hawthorn cuttings from extreme weather conditions such as frost, excessive heat, or strong winds.

If growing outdoors, consider using a temporary protective covering, such as a cloche or a cold frame, to shield the cuttings during harsh weather.

Monitoring and Adjusting Humidity Levels:

Using Misting or a Humidity Dome (Optional):

To maintain adequate humidity around the cuttings, you can mist them with water using a spray bottle.

Alternatively, use a humidity dome or cover the containers with clear plastic to create a greenhouse-like environment.

This helps retain moisture and create a humid atmosphere beneficial for root development.

Monitor the humidity levels regularly to prevent excessive moisture buildup, which can lead to fungal problems.

Preventing Excessive Moisture Buildup:

Ensure proper ventilation and airflow around the cuttings to prevent excessive moisture accumulation.
If using a humidity dome or plastic cover, remove it periodically to allow fresh air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring:

Removing Competing Weeds or Plants:

Keep the area around the hawthorn cuttings free from competing weeds or other plants.

Weeds can compete for nutrients and resources, hindering the growth of the cuttings.

Gently remove any weeds by hand, taking care not to disturb the developing roots of the cuttings.

Pruning or Pinching Back Excess Growth:

If the hawthorn cuttings develop excessive leafy growth, consider pruning or pinching back the shoots.

This encourages the cuttings to focus their energy on root development rather than excessive top growth.

Trim the shoots just above a leaf node, using sharp pruning shears or your fingers.

Checking for Signs of Disease or Pests:

Regularly inspect the hawthorn cuttings for any signs of disease, such as wilting, discoloration, or abnormal growth.

Check for pests like aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites, which can hinder the growth of the cuttings.
If any issues are detected, take appropriate measures, such as using organic pest control methods or applying disease treatments.

Note: Providing consistent care and attention to the hawthorn cuttings will increase their chances of successful rooting and establishment. Regularly monitor their progress, adjust care practices as needed, and be patient, as root development can take several weeks or even months.

Rooting and Transplanting

Signs of Successful Rooting:

Developing Callus and Root Formation:

After a few weeks or months, check the hawthorn cuttings for the development of callus tissue, which appears as a swollen area near the base of the stem.

Look for signs of root growth emerging from the callused area or from the lower nodes of the cutting.

The presence of callus and visible root development indicates successful rooting.

Tug Test to Check for Resistance:

Gently perform a tug test by lightly pulling on the base of the cutting.

If you feel resistance, it indicates that the roots have formed and are anchoring the cutting to the rooting medium.

A successful tug test suggests that the hawthorn cutting has established a sufficient root system and is ready for transplanting.

Transplanting Rooted Cuttings:

Choosing Appropriate Planting Locations:

Select a suitable location for transplanting the rooted hawthorn cuttings based on their specific requirements, such as sunlight exposure, soil type, and moisture levels.

Ensure the chosen location provides enough space for the mature size of the hawthorn variety and allows for proper air circulation.

Preparing the Planting Site:

Clear the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris that could hinder root growth.

Amend the soil if necessary to improve its drainage and fertility, as hawthorns prefer well-draining soil.

Transplanting with Care to Avoid Root Damage:

Carefully remove the rooted hawthorn cuttings from their containers or pots.

Gently loosen the root ball to separate the roots from the rooting medium, taking care not to damage them.

Dig a planting hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots without crowding or bending them.

Place the rooted cutting into the hole, ensuring the roots are spread out and not overly compacted.

Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the base of the cutting to provide stability.

Note: After transplanting, water the newly planted hawthorn cuttings thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and provide moisture.

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. Regularly monitor the transplanted cuttings and provide appropriate care as they establish themselves in their new location.

Post-Transplant Care

Watering and Mulching:

Providing Adequate Moisture for Establishment:

Water the transplanted hawthorn cuttings deeply and thoroughly after planting to promote root establishment.

During the first growing season, provide regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Adjust the frequency and amount of water based on weather conditions and the moisture needs of the hawthorn variety.

Monitor the soil moisture level by checking the top few inches of soil. Water when it feels dry to the touch.

Applying Organic Mulch to Retain Moisture and Suppress Weeds:

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the hawthorn plants, leaving a gap around the stem to prevent moisture buildup and potential rot.

Mulching helps conserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.

Use organic materials such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves as mulch, applying it to a depth of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) around the plants.

Monitoring Growth and Providing Support if Necessary:

How to Take Hawthorn Cuttings UK

Staking or Supporting Young Plants:

If the hawthorn plants are young and have weak stems, consider staking or providing support to prevent them from leaning or bending.

Install stakes firmly into the ground near the base of the plant and use soft ties or twine to secure the stems to the stakes.

Adjust the ties as the plant grows to prevent them from becoming too tight and restricting growth.
Regularly Checking for Signs of Stress or Disease:

Monitor the hawthorn plants for signs of stress, such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth.
Inspect the plants regularly for any signs of pests or diseases, such as aphids, powdery mildew, or leaf spot.

If any issues are detected, take appropriate measures to address them, such as using organic pest control methods or applying disease treatments.

Promptly remove any dead or diseased plant material to prevent the spread of pathogens.

Note: Regularly assess the overall health and growth of the hawthorn plants. Provide additional care and attention as needed, such as adjusting watering practices, applying organic fertilizers, or pruning to maintain shape and promote healthy growth.

Stay vigilant in monitoring for any signs of stress, pests, or diseases, and take timely action to address any issues that may arise. With proper care, the hawthorn plants will continue to thrive and establish themselves in their new environment.


In conclusion, taking hawthorn cuttings in the UK is a rewarding and accessible method of propagating these beautiful and beneficial trees.

By understanding the different types of cuttings and the optimal time to take them, gardeners can successfully propagate hawthorn plants and enjoy their numerous benefits.

With careful preparation, proper cutting techniques, and adequate care during the rooting and transplanting phases, hawthorn cuttings can develop into healthy and thriving plants.

By following the outlined steps and providing the necessary post-transplant care, gardeners can contribute to the growth and preservation of hawthorn trees in the UK, enhancing the beauty of landscapes and supporting the ecosystem.

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