How to Root a Tree From a Cutting


Rooting a tree from a cutting gives the gardener a head start over waiting for a seed to develop. It is also a way to preserve good stock, or propagate a hard-to-come-by plant, and a cost effective alternative to buying more plants. There are three different stages of growth that work for tree cuttings: soft wood cuttings, semi-hard wood cuttings, and hard wood cuttings. You can utilize hard wood cuttings taken from dormant trees in spring, whereas soft and semi-hard wood cuttings obtained from the current season's growth are best used in late summer and early fall.

Step 1

Prepare the rooting medium in advance. A mixture of peat moss and soil or gardening soil and sand are well-draining options. It is important that the rooting medium doesn't dry out too quickly or get too wet and clumpy. Moisten lightly.

Step 2

Cut a stem 4 to 8 inches long with a sharp knife or pruner scissors. Avoid stems carrying flowers.

Step 3

Cut half of the leaves on the cutting. Cut large remaining leaves in half to encourage root formation over maintaining foliage.

Step 4

Strip some bark off the bottom of the cutting and then dip it in the rooting hormone (available at gardening centers and nurseries).

Step 5

Place a third to a half of the cutting (the end with the rooting hormone on it) into your rooting medium. Pat soil around your cutting down gently to support your shoot and water.

Step 6

Cover the cutting with a transparent jar or wrap. Use see-through containers such as soda bottles, mason jars or plastic bags, or construct a mini green house with clear plastic wrap over a wire structure.

Step 7

Place the cutting in indirect sunlight to promote photosynthesis without overheating your soil. Maintain at a temperature no less than 65 or more than 80 degrees F.

Step 8

Transplant into regular garden soil after plants have produced fresh leaves, indicating new roots have formed. Use containers or put directly in the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife or pruning scissors
  • Planting pots
  • Rooting medium
  • Rooting hormone
  • Gardening gloves (optional)


  • Washington State University
  • North Carolina State University
Keywords: tree from cuttings, rooting stem cuttings, rooting medium, rooting hormone, rooting trees, How to root

About this Author

Mathew L. Zupan is a writer for and has been one of the feature writers for, Hawaii Wellness and CreationIS - Internet Services. He has been writing, designing and marketing websites since 1998 and has written one e-manual. He has also been a professional residential and commercial landscaper and worked as a professional caddy for several years with a passion for golf.