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How to Plant a Tree from a Cutting

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Starting a new tree from a hardwood cutting is one of the most inexpensive ways to produce a new tree, and it is much faster than growing a tree from seed. Nearly any deciduous or evergreen tree can be grown from a hardwood cutting taken from a healthy parent tree. Take a cutting in early spring, late fall or winter from a firm stem that isn't easy to bend. For best results, take the hardwood cutting early in the morning, and keep the cutting cool until you're ready to plant it.

Cut a 4- to 6-inch tip from a stem of the parent tree with a diameter about the size of your little finger. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle, which will help you remember which end should be planted. Remove any flowers or leaves from the cutting.

Fill a planting container with a mixture of half peat moss and half sterile sand. A coffee can or any container with a drainage hole drilled in the bottom will work well. Use a spray bottle to moisten the planting mixture.

Dip the angled end of the cutting in rooting hormone, and plant the hardwood cutting with about half of its length in the potting medium with the angled end down. It's best to plant several cuttings closely together so they can share the hormones that are released into the soil.

Cover the planting container with clear plastic, and secure the plastic with a rubber band. Put the container in a warm room where it will be in indirect light. Mist inside the bag occasionally to keep the air humid, and don't allow the potting mixture to dry out.

Check the hardwood cuttings after 3 to 4 weeks to see if they've rooted. The easiest way to determine if the cuttings have rooted is by tugging gently on a cutting. If you feel slight resistance, it means the cutting has taken root.

Plant each cutting in its own 4-inch container. Put the container in a sunny location, and continue to keep the potting mixture moist until the cutting is ready to be planted outdoors. The larger the young tree, the better chance of survival, so give it at least a few months to mature.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Planting container with drainage hole
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Clear plastic
  • Rubber band
  • Spray bottle with mist setting
  • Four-inch planting container

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.