How to Plant a Tree from a Cutting

Overview

Starting a new tree from a hardwood cutting is one of the most inexpensive ways to produce a new tree, and it is much faster than growing a tree from seed. Nearly any deciduous or evergreen tree can be grown from a hardwood cutting taken from a healthy parent tree. Take a cutting in early spring, late fall or winter from a firm stem that isn't easy to bend. For best results, take the hardwood cutting early in the morning, and keep the cutting cool until you're ready to plant it.

Step 1

Cut a 4- to 6-inch tip from a stem of the parent tree with a diameter about the size of your little finger. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle, which will help you remember which end should be planted. Remove any flowers or leaves from the cutting.

Step 2

Fill a planting container with a mixture of half peat moss and half sterile sand. A coffee can or any container with a drainage hole drilled in the bottom will work well. Use a spray bottle to moisten the planting mixture.

Step 3

Dip the angled end of the cutting in rooting hormone, and plant the hardwood cutting with about half of its length in the potting medium with the angled end down. It's best to plant several cuttings closely together so they can share the hormones that are released into the soil.

Step 4

Cover the planting container with clear plastic, and secure the plastic with a rubber band. Put the container in a warm room where it will be in indirect light. Mist inside the bag occasionally to keep the air humid, and don't allow the potting mixture to dry out.

Step 5

Check the hardwood cuttings after 3 to 4 weeks to see if they've rooted. The easiest way to determine if the cuttings have rooted is by tugging gently on a cutting. If you feel slight resistance, it means the cutting has taken root.

Step 6

Plant each cutting in its own 4-inch container. Put the container in a sunny location, and continue to keep the potting mixture moist until the cutting is ready to be planted outdoors. The larger the young tree, the better chance of survival, so give it at least a few months to mature.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Planting container with drainage hole
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Clear plastic
  • Rubber band
  • Spray bottle with mist setting
  • Four-inch planting container

References

  • NC State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
  • Penn State: Forestry/Natural Resources Lesson Plans
  • Washington State University: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees and Vines with Stem Cuttings
Keywords: hardwood cuttings, deciduous, evergreen

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.