|I would like to try my hand at propagating arborvitae and decidious shrubs. I have read many articles that state
|Very coarse sand is also called builder's sand and it is the type used to create cement. Mortar sand is not quite as coarse, but it should work for you. The whole purpose of placing your cuttings in coarse sand is that sand drains very quickly, which will help avoid rotting of the cuttings. I have had excellent results in rooting cuttings in a homemade propagating pot, which is something you might also want to try.
Start with a 6" plastic nursery pot and line the bottom with 2 paper towels. Fill the pot to within 1 inch of the rim with either vermiculite or perlite (you'll find these in the indoor garden department of Lowe's or Home Depot and many large nurseries). Then take a 2 1/2 inch terra cotta pot (available as above) and plug the drainage hole with florist's clay or a wad of cotton topped with masking tape. Place the terra cotta pot in the center of the vermiculite filled nursery pot and rotate it around while you're pushing down. You want the terra cotta pot rim to be only an inch or so above the level of the vermiculite. Fill the terra cotta pot with water and keep it filled with water during the entire rooting process. The water will seep out of the terra cotta and keep the vermiculite just moist enough to encourage good rooting. Then take your cuttings, dip the cut ends in rooting hormone and place them into the moistened vermiculite. They will root in 10-14 days.
Best wishes with your propagation project!