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How to Propagate Birch Trees

By Eulalia Palomo ; Updated September 21, 2017
Papery bark is a common trait among birch trees.

Birch trees have paper-like bark that separates from the trunk of the tree as the tree ages. A striking characteristic of the birch tree is the raised lines on the trunk called lenticels. As the tree matures, the bark begins to peel off from the lenticels. Birch trees are cold hardy medium-sized trees with a common life span of 60 to 100 years. Birch trees can be propagated from a green cutting off a healthy tree. Expand your own birch tree collection or give a newly rooted cutting of your favorite tree to a friend or fellow gardener.

Cut a green branch from a young, healthy tree. The branch should have four leaf nodes. A leaf node is the area where a leaf emerges from the branch.

Remove all the leaves except for the top leaf. To remove the leaves, bend them back gently until they snap off.

Fill a plastic container with equal parts coarse, clean sand and peat moss. A yogurt container works well for a propagating pot.

Roll the lower half of your birch tree cutting in hormone rooting powder. Hormone rooting powder can be purchased at most home and garden stores.

Bury the bottom two leaf nodes in the sand and peat moss mixture.

Water the cutting, making sure the sand is thoroughly and uniformly wet. After the initial watering, keep the area wet but not saturated. The rooting mix should feel damp to the touch.

Prepare a 1- to 2-foot pot with potting soil for your cutting. Hollow out a small area in the middle for your rooted cutting.

Transplant your birch tree cutting to a larger pot after the cutting has taken root. When new leaves emerge on your cutting you know the birch branch has taken root.

Water your transplanted cutting thoroughly, making sure the soil is evenly wet. Water every three to four days after the initial watering. Birch trees like damp conditions and can withstand frequent watering.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Propagation pot (yogurt container)
  • Coarse sand
  • Peat moss
  • Rooting powder
  • Planting pot
  • Potting soil


  • Propagating birch trees from cuttings may take a few tries before you realize success. Start several cuttings to increase your chances of success.
  • Take cuttings in early to mid-spring when the tree is producing plenty of young, green wood.
  • Choose a transplant pot that has holes in the bottom; a lot of water is good for a birch tree, but standing water is rarely good for any plant. Holes in the bottom of the pot will allow water to drain through the soil and escape.

About the Author


Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.