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How to Grow Fruit Trees From a Branch

plum-tree blossom image by Roman Ivaschenko from

Starting a new fruit tree of your own is always a fun endeavor--if your tree grows successfully. One way of propagating fruit trees is by rooting a branch. This is not always a sure thing, but it is essentially free of cost. If you have access to a healthy tree and a little patience, you can give this method a try--but only attempt it in early spring, before the tree has come out of dormancy, or just when the buds start to swell.

Find a softwood to semi-hardwood section of the fruit tree you want to propagate. This is different than hardwood, since it is younger and has not hardened up yet. Softwood is typically found on the ends of larger branches, and it is generally very flexible. Find a section about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick and about 8 to 10 inches long. It should also have at least four buds on it. Cut it off with pruning shears at a 45-degree angle, and place it immediately into a container of water.

Prepare your rooting pot by mixing equal parts of sand and potting soil. Fill a plant pot or other suitable container with the soil so that it is at least 8 inches deep. Poke a hole into it about 6 inches deep. If you are rooting more than one cutting in the pot, space them at least 2 inches apart.

Lift the branch out of the water and tap it lightly to remove the excess water. Dip it into the rooting hormone powder and then straight into the prepared hole in the planting container. Firm the soil in around the branch to make sure it has good contact.

Water the soil just until you start to see it drain out of the bottom of the container. Place the whole container, branches and all into a larger translucent plastic bag and close it lightly. This will provide a humid atmosphere and help encourage the branch to root. Poke a few small holes in it if you notice any mold or mildew starting to show up. Set it aside for three to four weeks in a warm spot.

When you start to see signs of growth, remove the plastic bag and place the pot in a sunny window. You will know that it has rooted when you give the branch a slight tug and it stays in the soil. Keep the rooted branch indoors until the weather has warmed to be above freezing at night.

Acclimate the new tree to the outside by taking it out into a partially sunny spot until it has grown several inches taller. Plant it in a permanent position in full sun in soil with good drainage and at least 10 feet from other trees or buildings. Larger trees will need more room.

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