Evergreen Cuttings…Underutilized Throughout the Year


Christmas seems like one of the only times of the year when people use evergreen cuttings inside their homes…and when I say evergreen I mean a landscape shrub or tree that stays green all year round…not just from a fir or spruce tree.   I guess one of the few exceptions to that is bringing in Magnolia leaves or branches to use in seasonal arrangements. But again, that’s still typically isolated to the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.  I don’t know why, but it seems when people think of plant cuttings for their home, they limit their thoughts to flowers.  Not only does this limit what you have to bring inside, but it also doesn’t allow you to enjoy the host of textures and many hues of greens and browns that are available to you all year ‘round.

Although I didn’t consider my evergreen shrubs and trees in terms of using them for cuttings when I designed my yard, I’m glad I do have a number of plants in my landscape that we enjoy bringing inside any time of year.  Since I’m pruning back some of these plants already, instead of tossing all my cuttings out, I gather them up and literally throw them into a vase of water and place them around my home. To easily spruce them up a bit, you can do as my mother-in-law does and simply add a few white roses she buys at the grocery store or flower shop.

Here are my Favorite Evergreen Plants whose cuttings I enjoy using inside:

  1. Leucuthue: The Leucuthue (pronounced loo-KOTH-o-ee) is perhaps my favorite evergreen to bring inside (pictured above and below).  It’s unique vertical structure allows it to stand-alone in a vase or it can be added to an arrangement of flowers like you would fern.  If you bring some in after it blooms (very small white/creamy clusters of flowers), make sure you shake them a bit before bringing them in – otherwise you’ll have a little bit of a mess from their “droppings”.  There are a variety of Leucuthue to choose from, but my favorite is the Florida Leucuthue or fetter-bush.  In your landscape it’s a great screen in a Woodlands environment (moist soil and full to partial shade).
  2. Aucuba:  I know that some may shudder when I mention Aucuba, because they can really grow out of control and crowd out some of the other plants in your landscape.  But I would argue that that’s more of a design issue than a plant issue (i.e., right plant right place).  Regardless, Aucuba’s upright structure and large glossy leaves make it a perfect plant to use as a cutting inside.  I’ll sometimes put Aucuba cuttings in a spot where a houseplant may typically go – if kept in water they seem to live forever.  Since they grow rapidly and often need a good pruning…if you have an Aucuba, odds are you’re already cutting them back – you may as well bring them inside.  In a landscape you can really put them anywhere…full sun to full shade; but you’ll want to make sure you place them in a place they have room to grow – both up and out.
  3. Cryptomeria:  Given the role that it typically plays in a landscape, it may be surprising that Cryptomeria made my favorite list.  Fast becoming the preferred alternative to Leland Cypress in your landscape for a number of reasons, cuttings from the Cryptomeria can really be an easy way to bring life inside – placed in small vases on the table at a dinner party or in arrangements around the house.
  4. Magnolia: As I mentioned above, if you have a Magnolia you likely bring some of their leaves in to make seasonal arrangements, but they can be used in other interior applications year ‘round.  Like with Leucuthue and Aucuba you can brighten up a dark spot of your home by simply cutting off some errant Magnolia limbs, wrestling a few of them together and placing them in a vase. Outside, depending on what cultivar of Magnolia you choose, they can be used in a variety of applications – as a large shrub, a screen, an accent tree, or the behemoth that serves as the perfect climbing tree.

Besides using cuttings from these plants inside, I’ll also use them in baskets or pots on our back porch or pergola.   I’ll literally cut 4-6 foot branches, band them together, drop them in a bucket and place them in a spot that I can’t seem to grow anything else successfully.  When they die, they die…and I either replace them with new cuttings or just clear the spot for a while.

So when you’re thinking of adding some plants to your landscape, think of using some of these…not only for what they provide you in your landscape, but for how they can be used inside as well.

What favorite evergreens do you bring cuttings of inside?

Happy growing,
Doug initial



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