How to Sprout Trees From Cuttings


Tree cuttings will sprout roots when cut at the correct time and placed in the appropriate propagation environment. The three types of cuttings from a tree are softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood, with softwood having the best results with most trees. Softwood cuttings are green branch sections taken in late spring, semi-hardwood cuttings are firm stems taken in mid-summer and hardwood cuttings are mature, dormant stems taken in late fall through winter.

Step 1

Cut a 6- to 8-inch section of branch from a tree. Take branch tips from current-year growth on the outer areas of the tree crown. Wrap the tree cuttings in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag to limit moisture loss.

Step 2

Place rooting soil in a large bowl. Moisten the soil with water. Add the medium to a propagation tray.

Step 3

Remove all leaves and stems from the lower one-third of the tree cutting. Hardwood cuttings will not have leaf growth. Dip the lower cut end into powdered rooting hormone. Place the cutting into the filled propagation tray to a depth of one-third its length.

Step 4

Mist the tree cuttings and soil with luke warm water. Cover the tray with a plastic bag to hold moisture in during the rooting process.

Step 5

Set the propagation tray of tree cuttings in a warm area with indirect bright light. Open the cover each day to mist the cuttings and refresh the air. Monitor the soil moisture to prevent excess build up that causes root rot.

Step 6

Tug on the stems to see if there is tension from root growth. Verify root length by removing soil around the stem.

Step 7

Transplant tree cuttings once the roots are a minimum length of 1 inch. Fill 4-inch potting containers with a well-draining potting soil. Plant the cuttings at the same depth they were in the propagation tray.

Step 8

Grow the cuttings indoors for a minimum of one year until the root system is strong enough for outdoor growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bags
  • Rooting soil
  • Propagation tray
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Water mister
  • 4-inch growing containers
  • Potting soil


  • North Caroline State University: Plant Propagation with Stem Cuttings
  • Washington State University: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs and Trees
Keywords: sprout tree cuttings, propagate tree cuttings, root tree cuttings

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.