Propagating With Semi-Hardwood Cuttings: How To Do a Snap Test For Semi-Hardwood Cuttings

Pruning Of A Tree Branch
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(Image credit: Leonid Eremeychuk)

Many woody ornamental landscape plants can be easily propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings. Their success relies on the cut stems not being too young, yet also not too old when the cutting is taken. Plant breeders use a process known as a semi-hardwood snap test to select stems for cuttings. In this article, we will discuss testing semi-hardwood cuttings by doing a simple snap test.

Performing a Semi-Hardwood Snap Test

Plants are propagated by cuttings for several reasons. Asexual propagation, such as propagating plants by cuttings, allows the growers to get identical clones of the parent plant. With sexual propagation, also known as seed propagation, the resulting plants may be varied. Propagating with semi-hardwood cuttings also allows growers to get a sizeable, fruiting and flowering plant much more quickly than from seed propagation. There are three different types of stem cuttings: softwood, semi-hardwood, and hardwood cuttings.

  • Softwood cuttings are taken from soft, young plant stems, usually in spring to early summer.
  • Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from stems that are not too young and also not too old, and usually taken in late summer to fall.
  • Hardwood cuttings are taken from older mature wood. These cuttings are usually taken in winter, when the plant is dormant.

Testing Semi-Hardwood Cuttings for Propagation

Plant breeders perform a simple test called a snap test to determine if a stem is suitable for propagating with semi-hardwood cuttings. When testing semi-hardwood cuttings for propagation, a stem is bent back toward itself. If the stem only bends and does not snap cleanly when bent back upon itself, then it is still softwood and not suitable for semi-hardwood cuttings. If the stem snaps or breaks cleanly when bending it back upon itself, then it is ideal for semi-hardwood cuttings. If the plant breaks but not with a clean break, then it is likely past semi-hardwood and should be propagated in winter by hardwood cuttings. Doing a simple semi-hardwood snap test with help you select the proper type of cutting and propagate plants at the best times for success.

Darcy Larum