How to Propagate Apple Trees


Most of us have heard the story of John Chapman, better known, perhaps, as Johnny Appleseed. According to legend, Johnny Appleseed traveled the western U.S., sowing apple seeds wherever he went. The problem with growing apple trees from seed is that the majority of them will not grow true. In other words, the apples on those trees will not taste the same as the apple from which you gathered the seed. In order to propagate nothing but good, sweet apples, the gardener must do more than simply plant a seed. While it is possible for the home gardener to propagate an apple tree by grafting good wood to apple rootstock, a simpler method is to simply root cuttings from a good apple tree. Rooted cuttings will produce apples identical to the tree from which the cutting was taken.

Step 1

Fill a 4-inch growing pot with an equal mix of sand and peat moss.

Step 2

Make a 3-inch-deep hole in the center of the growing pot with your index finger.

Step 3

Take a cutting from an apple tree that produces sweet apples. New-growth cuttings are easiest to root. Take cuttings in spring, right after new growth appears on the tree. Cuttings should be taken from the tip of a new branch, and should be approximately 8 inches long. Make your cut approximately 1/4 inch below a leaf node. Remove any leaves within 3 inches of the cut.

Step 4

Make a notch in the cut end of the cutting with a sharp knife. This notch exposes more of the inner wood of the cutting, which encourages root development.

Step 5

Dip the cutting into a powdered rooting hormone and then carefully insert the cutting into the hole you have prepared in your growing pot. Press the soil around the cutting with your fingers so the cutting will stand up by itself.

Step 6

Gently water the soil around the cutting. Make the soil damp but do not make it soggy and do not allow the growing pot to sit in water. Place the growing pot in a warm, well-lit room or a greenhouse. Your cutting should take root within four to six weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Apple cuttings
  • Sharp knife
  • Growing pot
  • Peat moss
  • Sand


  • North Dakota State University: Propagating Apple Trees
  • Penn State University: Grafting and Propagating Fruit Trees
  • North Carolina State University: Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden
Keywords: propagate apple trees, growing apple trees, planting apple trees, apple tree cuttings, propagating tree cuttings

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.