Still cold out there and the native plants are dormant, which is good.  I’m out collecting cuttings this week from a number of natives that we’ll use to propagate more plants.  I’m cutting 1 and 2-year old shoots from willows (five species), black cottonwood, red osier dogwood and snowberry. I do most of the cutting collection on our property from the large cutting (or “stooling”) beds we planted where we pulled out a couple acres of Golden Delicious apples six years ago.  For some of the species I’ll venture on to the hillsides above the orchard, or head into the National Forest (permit in the pack!)  The cuttings will be cut into sections from 3” to 7” in length and then refrigerated to keep them cold and dormant.  In one to two months, depending on the species, we’ll stick them in media and get them rooting.  Most willows will root easily with little help from me; others, like the snowberry, put out roots better with a little help from hormones and bottom heat.  We have heated beds in one of the greenhouses, and overwinter we’ve been rooting several other species: kinnikinnick, paxistima, twinflower, and two penstemon species.  I like to do as much as possible from seed, due to cost and to preserve genetic diversity in the offspring (very important to restoration plantings).  However, doing cuttings lets me hedge my bets to get enough healthy plants, and is sometimes far easier and more economical; just try collecting paxistima or twinflower seeds!

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