Starting Fruit Trees From Cuttings


Propagating by cuttings produces an exact clone of the parent plant. When dealing with fruit tree cultivars or hybrids, it is one of the best methods to reproduce the parent tree. Use pieces of branches to start a fruit tree from cuttings. Cutting propagation takes more care than other propagation methods like layering or root division. Cuttings let you create many new plants from your existing fruit trees.

Step 1

Scrub your plant pots to eliminate any diseases or hidden pests. Rinse your containers with 1 part bleach diluted with 9 parts water.

Step 2

Fill your plant pots with a lightweight, moisture-retentive soil mixture. Do not use garden soil since it could be harboring diseases and insects. Use a mixture of 50 percent peat moss and 50 percent perlite. Mix well before filling your containers.

Step 3

Select a twig that is healthy and medium-soft in hardness. Do not use the extremely soft, new growth or the hard, old growth branches. Established newer growth will most likely create roots once planted.

Step 4

Cut a 3- to 6-inch branch tip with a sharp, clean knife. Using a dull knife will damage the cuttings by crushing the plant tissue. Take your cuttings on a cool overcast morning to prevent moisture loss. Cut the branch just below a leaf node.

Step 5

Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting with pruning shears. If not removed, the leaves will just rot once the cutting is planted and cause problems.

Step 6

Insert your cutting up to a third of its length into your soil mixture.

Step 7

Gently water the soil and place your cutting into a cold frame. The cutting should develop roots in 2 to 5 weeks. Gently tug at the cutting to check to see if it is rooted. It should offer resistance when the roots are developed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not try to start fruit trees from seeds. Seeds produce variable offspring and not true to type. Always take your cuttings above the grafting bud on a fruit tree. A cutting taken below the bud will produce a copy of the rootstock, not the fruit bearing part of the fruit tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Small plant pot
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Fruit tree
  • Knife
  • Cold Frame


  • The Practical Gardener's Encyclopedia; Geoffrey Burnie; 2000
  • University of California: Propagation
Keywords: starting fruit trees, cuttings, propagation

About this Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.