How to Take a Branch to Plant a Young Tree


In nature, fruit trees sprout and grow from seed. Most fruit sold commercially comes from hybrid plants. These hybrids have been crossbred to produce trees that are more diseased resistant and produce more desirable fruit. Seeds from hybrid fruit will produce a plant like one of the hybrid's parent plants rather than like the hybrid. To propagate a hybrid tree, you will need to take a stem cutting. Stem cuttings can be easily rooted in the ground.

Step 1

Time your cuttings for early spring while the tree is still dormant. Make your pruning cuts early in the day while the plant is well-hydrated.

Step 2

Sharpen a pair of pruning shears before making a cutting. This will prevent crushing the branch.

Step 3

Wet a cloth with a solution of bleach and swipe the shears before using them to prevent spread of diseases.

Step 4

Select a branch that is young and springy with numerous spots where the leaves emerge, but with no flowers or fruit.

Step 5

Position your shears just above the point where a leaf emerges (the leaf node) approximately two feet from the end of the branch. Cut the branch horizontally and place the end in a bag with two tablespoons of water to prevent the branch from drying out.

Step 6

Prepare a growth medium by filling a six-inch container with potting soil. Wet the soil so that it is as damp as a wrung out sponge.

Step 7

Cut the branch into three- to six-inch sections, leaving three leaf nodes in each section. Discard the final six inches of the branch tip.

Step 8

Dip the bottom end of each cutting in rooting hormone. Strip the leaves from the lower two-thirds of the stem and insert the stem into the peat moss two-thirds of the way.

Step 9

Cover the container with a plastic freezer bag. Set in a windowsill just out of direct sunlight and keep the container well watered to prevent the cuttings from drying out. Roots should form in a few weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Bleach
  • Cloth
  • Plastic bag
  • Rooting hormone
  • Peat moss
  • 6-inch container
  • Gallon freezer bag


  • NC State University Extension: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
  • North Dakota University Extension: Starting New Plants
  • NC State University Extension: Rooting for You: Plant Propagation with Stem Cuttings
  • NC State University Extension: Vegetative Propagation of Gordonieae Trees by Stem Cuttings1

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Texas A&M University Extension: Olives
Keywords: Stem cutting, propagating trees from cuttings, taking a cutting from a tree

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."