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How to Plant a Tree Limb

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
It is possible to propagate a tree from a single limb placed in dirt.

It is possible to take a cutting from a mature tree and plant it in the soil, creating a new plant. This is a form of plant cloning, or asexual propagation. Genetic material is not exchanged, making the new tree that grows an exact replica of the plant the cutting was taken from. Cutting requires that you remove a branch of a parent tree and force it to grow roots. Soon the branch will grow like any other tree, making branches of its own.

Cut a branch that is at least one year old, and between 6 to 12 inches in length, during the tree's dormancy period in the winter or early spring. Make the cut just below a bud. Cut the branch with a sharp knife or pruning shear to avoid crushing it.

Dip the end of the limb in rooting hormone and shake off any excess. Rooting hormone seals the wound, prevents infection and encourages root growth.

Place the limb in a pot of potting soil, forcing the base into the soil so that it is covered up to 2 inches. Ensure that the soil is moist to the touch.

Cover the limb with a plastic bag that is aerated with a few cuts to prevent molding. Make sure the bag covers the entire cutting without bending it. Alternatively, a plastic cake box cover or humidity dome will do.

Set the plant in an area where it gets sunlight, but not direct sun.

Check the soil's moisture every week to ensure that it has not dried out. After two weeks pull up gently on the potting soil to make sure the limb has taken root. Once the plant has fully taken root it requires transfer outside to regular, prepared soil.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears or sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Potting soil
  • Pot
  • Plastic bag