How to Propagate Tree Cuttings


Propagating trees through stem cuttings is an economical method of growing more trees in your landscape. Most deciduous trees--plants that lose their leaves during the fall--are propagated by this method. Rooting stem cuttings from a mother plant will produce a plant that is identical to the parent tree, as long as that parent tree is not from a grafted rootstock. According to North Carolina State University, rooting stem cuttings does not require special equipment. Most trees can be propagated while their leaves are green.

Step 1

Select vibrant green growing stems on the ends of the mother plant. Cut the stem to a length between 3 inches and 5 inches using the scissors.

Step 2

Remove any leaves that are near the cut end of the stem, about 2 inches. Dip the cut end into the rooting hormone powder. The white powder should cover the lower 2 inches of the stem

Step 3

Mix equal parts of the peat moss and vermiculite or sand for the potting soil. Fill the 6-inch pot to within 1 inch of the upper rim of the pot.

Step 4

Pour one quart of water into the potting soil mixture. Allow the water to drain from the 6-inch pot's drainage holes.

Step 5

Insert the stem cuttings into the potting soil mixture. You can place up to five small stem cuttings, equally spaced, in one pot.

Step 6

Cut the bottom from the 2-liter soda bottle using the scissors. In most cases, only remove the lower 1 1/2 inches of the soda bottle. Leave the top plastic screw cap in place.

Step 7

Place the soda bottle over the stem cuttings. The result will be a mini-greenhouse for the stem cuttings to take root.

Step 8

Set the stem cutting on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause the mini-greenhouse to overheat and dry out the cuttings.

Step 9

Lift the soda bottle after two weeks. Touch the soil with your finger. If moist, do not water. Add one cup of water if the soil is dry to the touch. Replace the soda bottle over the cuttings.

Step 10

Inspect the soil every two weeks. When new leaf growth occurs, remove the soda bottle. Place in a sunny location. Keep the cuttings moist.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Rooting hormone
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite or sand
  • 6-inch pot with drainage holes
  • Water
  • 2-liter soda bottle
  • Water


  • Colorado State University: Propagating of Trees and Shrubs
  • North Carolina State University: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
Keywords: root cuttings, tree seedlings, tree stem cuttings

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.