Rooting Aborvitae Cuttings


Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is a variably sized evergreen shrub with an upright pyramidal, columnar or rounded form. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 2 through 8, arborvitaes prefer well-drained soil and full-sun locations. Rooting by stem tip cuttings is a recommended method of propagation.

Step 1

Fill a container with drainage holes with a lightweight potting mix and mist with water until well moistened.

Step 2

Cut 6-inch long, leafy stem tips from arborvitae stems 1 year old or less. Washington State University extension recommends taking cuttings from the main shoot or from long side branches during the active growing season in spring or summer.

Step 3

Remove the foliage from the bottom 1 inch of the stem cutting and wound it by cutting a 1 inch line down one or two sides.

Step 4

Remove a small portion of rooting hormone from the package and roll the wounded stem of the stem cutting in it.

Step 5

Make a narrow hole in the potting mix to accommodate the cutting. Place the stem cutting into the hole and lightly firm the potting mix around it.

Step 6

Water the potting mix to settle it around the cutting and cover the container with a bottomless plastic milk jug. The container acts like a miniature greenhouse and helps maintain humidity for the cutting and reduce evaporation.

Step 7

Place the cuttings away from direct sunlight because the temperature will be too hot for them to tolerate.

Step 8

Keep the cuttings moist by misting once or twice daily with water. When a slight tug meets resistance, the cuttings have started rooting. Adequate rooting for transplant may take two to three months, according to Washington State University extension.

Things You'll Need

  • Lightweight potting mixture
  • Sharp knife
  • Container with drainage holes
  • Rooting hormone
  • Bottomless plastic milk jug


  • Washington State University Extension: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees, and Vines With Stem Cuttings
  • Ohio State University Extension: Thuja Occidentalis
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Propagating for Beginners
Keywords: rooting arborvitae, arborvitae propagation, arborvitae cuttings

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."