HOW TO TAKE GOOSEBERRY CUTTINGS
Gooseberry cuttings are a totally free method of creating your own new gooseberry plants. For even the most amateur gardener, the chances of success are very high. It’s also guaranteed that the new plant will be an exact clone of the original.
We suggest you take three or four cuttings and grow them on for a year in a separate part of the garden. The next autumn, when they are fully rooted, select the two or three strongest growing and transplant them to their final positions. It’s just as easy though to grow them on in their final positions.
The method described below is for taking hardwood cuttings (explained in step 3 below) and is best done from mid September until late October. At this time of year the ground will still be warm and natural rainfall will provide the cuttings with sufficient water.
Choose a position out of the way of harsh winds, in full sun. The cuttings will be rather spindly at first and only be 15cm above ground level so they are easily trodden on by mistake. It’s best to mark out the area with some twigs and a length of string just to clearly indicate where they are.
Dig the area well adding in some well rotted organic matter or previously used compost. This should provide a soil with sufficient drainage but a handful of sharp sand can be worked into the soil as well if your soil is heavy clay. Also add in a handful of blood, fish and bone. Mix it all in well to an even crumbly texture. Allow an area of about 25cm / 10in wide per cutting to allow the roots to develop independently.
Select a stem for the cutting which is about 25cm / 10in long. If all the stems have green soft wood at the top then make the initial cutting 5cm / 2in longer because the soft wood will be trimmed off. See the picture below for a clearer idea of what is this year’s hardwood, last year’s hardwood and this year’s softwood. Ideally, you need a length of this year’s hardwood about 20cm / 8in long.
With a sharp pair of secateurs trim the cutting to just below a bud at the bottom and just above a cutting at the top. Make the top cut sloping so that water will drain off and not sit on and rot the top of the cutting. See the picture below.
Strip off all side shoots and buds from the bottom of the cutting leaving only two buds. Gooseberry bushes are best grown on a single stem, this is the reason for stripping the lower buds off.
Use a trowel to dig a small hole to a depth of about one half of the cutting. Insert the cutting into the hole, in-fill with soil and gently firm down so that the soil is in touch with the cutting below ground. Water the cuttings well.
The cuttings should need no further attention until the next autumn when they can be dug up and planted in their final position, see here for information about how best to plant gooseberries. The cuttings should begin to show that they have “taken” a month or so after taking the cuttings..
The first signs will be the green shoots appearing from the buds above ground. If this does not occur before December, wait until April the next year before giving up hope.