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How to Propagate an Orchid Tree

The orchid tree is a showy, tropical tree that is native to India and parts of Asia. The tree is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 9 through 11 where the winters are mild. Orchid trees grow to a height of 20 to 40 feet and produce purple-colored flowers that bloom for several months. The tree can be propagated through semi-ripe or softwood stem cuttings taken in early summer. Choose to propagate tree stock from terminal shoot growth that has not been under stress and does not have bud growth.

Cut 4-to-6-inch softwood sections from the orchid tree with a sharp knife. The cutting should be soft, new growth that is just beginning to harden. Place the cutting in a plastic bag with moist paper towels to retain moisture while making additional cuttings.

Remove all leaves from the lower one-half of the cutting. Large leaves on the upper one-half can be cut in half to conserve space in the rooting tray and prevent excess water loss.

Dip the lower cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to stimulate root growth. Gently tap the stem to remove excess hormone.

Mix equal parts of sterile peat moss, course sand and perlite and dampen the mixture with water. Fill a rooting tray with the medium.

Stick the cut end of the stem into the rooting medium at a depth of one-half the length of the cutting. Gently firm the medium around the cutting to hold it in place. Space the cuttings in the tray so the leaves do not touch and all cuttings receive light.

Lightly water the rooting medium and cover the tray with a clear plastic covering. Place the tray in a location that offers bottom heat and indirect sunlight. The top of a refrigerator works well if light is available throughout the day. Place the tray on a germination heating mat if bottom heat is not available.

Open the rooting tray daily to introduce fresh air inside and check the rooting medium moisture level. Mist the cuttings and medium regularly to keep the environment moist and humid.

Gently pull on the cuttings after three to four weeks to see if there is resistance from root growth. Remove the plastic covering once roots are present.

Transplant rooted cuttings into individual growing pots filled with sterile potting soil. Continue to grow the cuttings until the roots are established and strong enough to be planted in an outdoor environment.


Take cuttings in the early morning when the temperatures are cooler. Disinfect pruning tools with a solution of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach. Rinse the tools well and let them dry prior to using. Place cuttings in a refrigerator if you will not be sticking the cuttings in rooting medium immediately.

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