How to Start Growth From Tree Cuttings


Trees add a natural beauty to the landscaping and come in an abundance of sizes, shapes and colors to fit any area of your yard. Trees may also often provide cool shade, fragrant blossoms, and fruits and nuts for you or the wildlife to enjoy. Growing tree cuttings from trees can save you money over paying for container-grown trees. It's possible to start growth from tree cuttings from most types of trees; some varieties just take longer to root than others. This is a common form of tree propagation.

Step 1

Take tree cuttings in the early hours from healthy trees, during the tree's dormant season. Use young branches for best results. Remove an 8- to 10-inch cutting from the tree, or cut longer sections (and then divide into smaller ones) to use for cuttings.

Step 2

Use a sharp knife to trim the tree cutting down to a size ranging from 4 to 6 inches. Remove any leaves or needles on the lower 1/2 to 1/3 of the cutting. Start more tree cuttings than actually needed to ensure enough will grow, since some may not show any growth.

Step 3

Fill a pot (with draining holes) full of top-quality potting soil. Make holes 2 to 3 inches deep for planting each tree cutting. Space the cuttings just far enough apart so they do not touch or shade nearby cuttings.

Step 4

Put a little rooting hormone into a small cup (or plastic bag). Use only as much as you think you will need, because you will throw the rest out when finished to prevent spreading any diseases in the container holding the hormone. Dip each tree cutting in the hormone, and shake off extra.

Step 5

Carefully place the tree cutting in a planting hole, keeping as much hormone in place as possible. Gently press soil around the cutting to hold it in place. Repeat for each cutting, and then dampen the soil with water.

Step 6

Use a bag to cover the entire top of the pot to create a humid, enclosed environment for the tree cuttings. Keep the pot in a location out of direct sunlight and check it daily. Get rid of any fallen leaves or needles, and mist with water to maintain moist soil.

Step 7

Pull gently on the tree cuttings to check for root growth every few weeks. If you feel a little resistance, the tree cutting's root growth has started. Some tree cuttings can take more than three months to start growth, so be patient and continue to water.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Knife
  • Potting soil
  • Pot
  • Rooting hormone
  • Paper cup
  • Plastic bag
  • Spray bottle


  • North Carolina State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
  • Washington State University: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees and Vines with Stem Cuttings

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University: Propagating Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: growing tree cuttings, tree propagation, planting tree cuttings

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.