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How to Start a Tree From a Cutting

Starting trees from cuttings is a cost effective way to increase tree stock, learn new propagation skills or increase forestation across the landscape. The end result is a genetically identical tree produced in half the time of using standard seeds and without many of the complications associated with grafting. This is especially beneficial in cases in which the parent tree species is unknown, therefore it would be hard to find at a local nursery, or has sentimental value, such as a specific pine that grew in your grandmother’s backyard. With a little know-how you can start these trees for yourself.

Starting Trees

Find the right stem for cutting. You will want a straight and healthy looking stem, preferably new growth. In addition, the stem should have at least five buds on it. The first bud will remain on the parent tree and the following four will be part of the new tree.

Cut the stem on a diagonal. Cut just past the first of the five buds. Cut the stem as cleanly as possible.

Label your cuttings.

Prepare a shallow the hole for planting. According to Tree Crop Propagation and Management (TCPM), a tool for small farmers, it is only necessary to dig a shallow hole.

Place the cutting in the hole at a 45 degree angle with at least one bud under ground. The other three buds should be above ground with one facing the sun.

Cover the cutting and water well. Water the tree cutting twice daily for three to four weeks as the roots develop.


According to TCPM, you can cut the tree cutting straight across the top to prevent excessive moisture loss and drying. In addition, you can cover the cuttings with a polythene sheet to keep moisture and heat in while the cutting develops roots.


Never plant cuttings upside down.

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