Tree branches and roots

Tree Branch Growing: Tips On Planting Trees From Twigs

A great, inexpensive way to propagate your favorite trees is to try planting trees from twigs or cuttings. Growing trees from cuttings is fun and easy, as long as you follow a few simple steps. Read on for information on how to start roots on branch cuttings.

Tree Branch Growing

If you trim your trees every few years to make the backyard more orderly, you can use those clippings to plant new trees. To be successful when you are planting tree branches, you’ll need to get those branch cuttings to root.

When you are planting trees from twigs, you’ll end up with trees identical to the “parent” tree. This is not always the case when you plant seeds, since two trees were involved and you may be growing a hybrid.

On the other hand, if the tree you hope to duplicate is grafted, you don’t want to try tree branch growing as a mean of propagation. A tree is grafted when the crown is one species that has been grown into a rootstock from another species. Planting tree branches of grafted trees only duplicates the crown tree.

Some trees and shrubs – like forsythia, golden bells and plane trees – grow quickly and easily from cuttings. In fact, for certain species, planting tree branches has a greater chance of success than planting seeds.

How to Start Roots on Branch Cuttings

Some gardeners like to start rooting tree cuttings in water, while others prefer rooting them directly in sandy soil. In either case, you’ll do best to clip pieces of young branches, those under a year old, for growing trees.

To start planting trees from twigs, use a sharp, clean pruner or knife to clip off sections of tree branch around 6 to 10 inches long. Remove leaves and buds. Dip the cut end in hormone powder, available at garden stores.

You can either place the base end of the cuttings in a container with several inches of water, or else sink them into a pot with potting soil. If you have decided to start rooting tree cuttings in water, add water to the container as it evaporates. If you are growing in soil, keep the soil moist.

One way to keep the cuttings moist is to cover the container with a plastic bag. Cut a few slits in it first to let it breathe. Fasten the mouth of the bag around the container with a rubber band or string. Watch for roots to grow.

Once you have succeeded at rooting tree cuttings in water or soil, you can transplant the young plant to a larger pot or even to a prepared bed. It’s critical to keep the soil moist during the first growing season so that the new tree can develop a strong root system.

The best idea, when you are practicing tree branch growing, is to start many more cuttings than you think you will need. This makes it likely that you’ll get a few healthy new trees.

The key is in the cutting and controlling the water, light exposure and container. Fresh tree cuttings in water need a lot of humidity to assist them in growing roots for a successful transplant. For a single cutting, a flower pot is fine to use. Cover the bottom of the pot with a clear plastic bag or, if small enough, a plastic jug cut in half. This will keep the humidity high while also making it easy to monitor the water level and drainage. For larger crops of cut branches, uses a rimmed plastic tray with a wire frame and plastic stretched over the top. Mist the cuttings on a regular basis to keep the humidity high. Make sure there are holes in the bottom of the plastic bags, jugs or trays so that the water doesn’t get rancid. The cuttings will need bright light but not subjected to direct sunlight that can cause them to struggle. There may be some wilted leaves during the process, so just remove those to give the plant a good chance at growing healthy roots. It will take a few weeks to months to get the cutting to its fully established state. Once the roots are long, healthy and thick with new life, they’re ready to be transplanted.

Maple Tree Propagation Methods

A maple tree is one of those great looking trees that will add a great deal of character to any landscape. Maple trees are classified in a family of their own, but are still a deciduous species. There are more than 120 different varieties of the maple tree that can be found all across the planet.

A maple tree is an anchor to any landscape. They can grow to heights of 120 feet and have a large diameter canopy for providing cool shade in the summer. There are also varieties that grow as a shrub, with a height of about 10 feet. Growing a maple tree can be done is several different ways. Once mature, they’re very easy to take care of with some basic yearly pruning. Here are two different ways to propagate a maple tree for your landscape.

Propagating from Seed

Growing a maple tree from a seed will vary depending on the actual variety of maple tree that you’re going to plant.

When propagating from seed, they need to be stored in a cool place for a period of 90 to 120 days. This starts the process of seed germination that creates the seedling. Break off the small wings on the maple tree seed and place in a jar of warm water. Let the seeds soak for a full day before transplanting to another container.

After the full day of soaking in warm water, place the seeds in a container with peat moss, or loose soil. Space the seeds out at least 6 inches and place a plastic bag over them. Poke a few small holes in the plastic bag and then place the whole thing in the refrigerator, or a cool, damp place.

Leave the seeds there until they begin to sprout. This can take 90 days or more. Once you see the sprouts you can take them out and then transplant to the soil where you want to plant the maple tree. This should be done in the spring.

Propagating from Cuttings

In the spring, just before the buds come out, you can take cuttings to propagate the maple tree. Take an 8 inch length of green wood and strip off all the leaves except for a few near the top. Dab the cutting end into some rooting hormone.

Get a planting pot ready with some moist soil and stick the cutting into the center of it. Keep the soil warm and moist, and store where it will receive some sunlight. After about 8 weeks the cutting will begin to establish some roots. Check for this by carefully probing around in the soil for the roots.

Once the roots have a pretty good system under the soil, you can transplant to some bigger pots. Transplant the entire contents of the small pot into a larger one that already has soil in it. Keep the soil moist and place outside in an area protected from direct sunlight, rain, wind and hail. After about 10 days you can then transplant the sapling into the soil directly. Keep it watered and spread fertilizer around the trunk of the sapling.

For each cuttings use a pot. Find a maple tree with sprout and green and flexible branches. Choose the font that has new buds in the lower part. Avoid damaged and damaged stems. After selecting the desired stem, use a pruning shear to remove the cuttings from the maple tree. Except for 2-3 leaves, remove the rest of the leaves from the branch. To get the best results, you need to scoop up early this summer.

Pour the rooting hormone into a clean plastic bag. With a small knife, at the end of each cuttings, make two cuts perpendicular to each other, as much as 2.5 centimeters and make it wet with water, and finally place it at a depth of 2.5 centimeters in the rooting hormone. Then slowly shake each cut to make extra hormone.
Create a hole in the middle of the pot. Place the bottom half of the stem in the hole and gently place the soil around maple cutting so that it remains upright. Repeat this for each cut and place each cut in a pot.

After planting each cut, sprinkle it to make the soil moist. Place a clean plastic bag on each cutting to prevent excessive evaporation of the water. Each plastic bag should be large enough to not bend the cutting.

Place the cuttings in an environment that is not exposed to direct sunshine. Keep the room temperature between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius. In the first two weeks after planting the cuttings in the pot, sprinkle them once a day. Remove the plastic bags and mist the cuttings with water and put the plastic again on the pot after misting the soil. Putting the plastic in the pot reduces the loss of moisture through the leaves.

After rooting the maple cuttings, remove the plastic bag and take the pots to get light during the day. Gently pull the stem up and check the root structure. If the stalk resists your stretch, that is, the root is formed and is ready for displacement. After moving the cuttings, water them regularly.

Equipment needed for planting maple cutting:

Pruning shears
Peat Moss
Coarse sand
Small knife
Root Hormone
Clean plastic bag
Spray bottle containing water


During the first month, when cuttings are planted in the pot, the roots are small and absorb water and nutrients from a limited area. So the soil around the stem should always be wet, but not wet. Avoid placing the cuttings in direct sunlight for more than 2 or 3 hours throughout the day during the first two months to prevent them from drying.

Before moving the maple cuttings out of the house, allow a perfect season to grow at home. This makes the cuttings more resistant to environmental changes. Select a transplant site that does not flood and receives ample sunlight. When planting the maple cuttings on the ground, create a hole in the ground. The hole should be large enough to not bend the root of the cuttings. Soak the soil in the bottom of the hole and Loosening it so that the root of the cuttings can easily spread after transferring to the soil.

Info About Maple Trees: Tips For Planting Maple Tree Seedlings

Maple trees come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: outstanding fall color. Find out how to grow a maple tree in this article.

How to Grow a Maple Tree

In addition to planting nursery-grown maple trees, there are a couple of ways to go about maple tree growing:

Growing maple trees from cuttings

Growing maple trees from cuttings is an easy way to get free saplings for your garden. Take 4-inch cuttings from the tips of young trees in midsummer or mid-autumn, and remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Scrape the bark on the lower stem with a knife and then roll it in powdered rooting hormone.

Stick the lower 2 inches of the cutting in a pot filled with moist rooting medium. Keep the air around the plant moist by enclosing the pot in a plastic bag or covering it with a milk jug with the bottom cut out. Once they take root, remove the cuttings from their coverings and place them in a sunny location.

Planting maple tree seeds

You can also start a tree from seeds. Maple tree seeds mature in either spring to early summer or late fall, depending on the species. Not all species require special treatment, but it’s best to go ahead and treat them with cold stratification to be sure. This treatment tricks them into thinking winter has come and gone, and it’s safe to germinate.

Plant the seeds about three-quarters of an inch deep in moist peat moss and place them in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. Place the pots in a warm location when they come out of the refrigerator, and once they germinate, place them in a sunny window. Keep the soil moist at all times.

Planting and Caring for Maple Trees

Transplant seedlings and cuttings into a pot filled with good quality potting soil when they are a few inches tall. Potting soil provides them with all of the nutrients they will need for the next couple of months. Afterward, feed them with half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer every week to 10 days.

Fall is the best time for planting maple tree seedlings or cuttings outdoors, but you can plant them anytime as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Choose a location with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Dig a hole as deep as the container and 2 to 3 feet wide. Set the plant in the hole, making sure the soil line on the stem is even with the surrounding soil. Burying the stem too deeply encourages rot.

Fill the hole with the soil you removed from it without adding fertilizer or any other amendments. Press down with your foot or add water periodically to remove air pockets. Once the hole is full, level the soil and water deeply and thoroughly. Two inches of mulch will help keep the soil moist.

Don’t fertilize the tree until the second spring after planting. Use 10-10-10 fertilizer or an inch of composted manure spread evenly over the root zone. As the tree grows, treat it with additional fertilizer only if needed. A maple tree with bright leaves that is growing according to expectations doesn’t need fertilizer. Many maples have problems with brittle branches and wood rot if forced to grow too fast.

Historic trees get a second shot at life with cloning efforts

The majestic oak that sits on the corner of Cedar Lane and Palisade Avenue in Teaneck, N.J., is headed for the chopping block, but the historic tree may live on, if experts can manage the tricky feat of cloning it.

The practice of cloning plants and trees – producing genetically identical copies – is nothing new. From impatiens at the local nursery to cherry blossoms in Washington, plants and trees have been cloned to replicate desirable traits.

“It’s been done for thousands and thousands of years,” said David L. Kidwell-Slak, a horticulturist in the floral and nursery plants research unit at the U.S. National Arboretum. “It’s really the primary way people have domesticated any plant.”

But matching the 250-plus-year-old red oak might be more challenging, according to tree experts. That’s because oaks are among the most difficult plants to clone. Callery pear, American holly, Atlantic white cedar, yellowwood and birches are easier to clone through cuttings, said Mike D’Errico, the executive director of the state’s Society of Certified Tree Experts.

Typically, about 6 inches of the branch tip, called soft wood growth, is cut, dipped into a rooting hormone to stimulate root growth, then put into a moist, warm environment.

Depending on the plant, the stem cuttings will form roots and be ready for replanting within weeks or months, said David Slaymaker, a professor of molecular plant biology at William Paterson University.

“The new plant is genetically identical to the plant the cutting came from, since it was actually part of that plant,” Slaymaker said.

The cuttings also can be grafted onto another plant. The results will be genetically similar, although the roots will belong to another tree.

A second, slightly more expensive and modern method of plant cloning is through tissue culture. In this process, young tissue is cultured in a sterile environment and treated with plant hormone to stimulate root growth.

If the Teaneck oak is saved through cloning, it would not be the first time that a tree of historical and emotional significance has been propagated for future generations.

Some of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington are clones of the original gifts from Japan in 1912. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has been cloning and archiving the genetic material of the world’s oldest species, studying their genetic makeup to discover the secret to their endurance, and replanting some of them.

In 2009 the township of West Caldwell, N.J., took 122 cuttings from what was then the state’s largest cucumber magnolia to make genetic copies.

The tree’s image had become the town’s symbol, engraved onto its official stationary and police cars, said Clay Allison of the Beaver Brook Nursery in Wantage, N.J., who handled the process.

Of the 122 cuttings, only about 25 to 30 of the offspring were successful, Allison said.

Bergen County is planning to cut down the northern red oak following a report that concluded that extensive decay, termite damage, the aftereffects of a lightning strike five years ago and the loss of 40 percent of its root system all weakened the tree, increasing the likelihood that it or its limbs will fall and hurt – or kill – someone.

The tree has special significance in some corners of the township. Over the years, many have fought to save it from developers. An ordinance this year gave it official historic status.

The ordinance explained, “The tree was standing before the birth of our nation and before George Washington’s retreat over the Hackensack River at Historic New Bridge Landing.”

The Puffin Foundation, which made a donation to Bergen County to take care of the tree in perpetuity, is working with tree experts to keep the oak’s lineage alive.

“Nobody wants this tree to go down,” said Todd Mastrobuoni, a certified tree expert, master arborist and tree risk assessor, who suggested cloning it. “And, at least, if we can come up with a way to give people something – that it’s not a total end to it – it will be worth the time and effort.”

The Puffin Foundation’s tree experts contacted Jason Grabosky, an associate professor of ecology, evolution and natural resources at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University. Grabosky says the group is considering three methods to increase the chances of success.

They will try taking terminal cuttings from the tree and using growth hormones to initiate rooting; try taking small branches and storing them in an environment with adequate humidity, a process that would induce the branches to use their stored carbohydrates and force them to grow shoots; and try using the sprouts that will be generated once the tree is cut down.

“There will be three different opportunities to try to make this work,” Grabosky said. “Red oak, as a group, is not very easy to do by cuttings. Younger ones are better. Older ones are hard. … With a 300-year-old large red oak, the odds are that this will not be highly successful.”

Nina Bassuk, a professor of urban horticulture at Cornell University who has been researching oak cloning since the late 1980s, said she has had measurable success with basal sprouts, the third method Grabosky plans to use.

In her method, the tree stump would be left about three or four inches off the ground. Once the sprouts appear, they will be put in the dark – a process called etiolation – by building a structure over them or covering them with dark cloth. The basal part of the sprouts will be treated with a rooting hormone and the roots allowed to grow. When the shoots are a few inches long, the dark covering will be removed and the bases painted with more rooting hormone.

After several months they can be planted, she said.

“It’s a difficult thing to do,” Bassuk said. “So if they can wait until October, they can get acorns, but if not, it’s possible that they can try this other method we have been working on. But with a 250-year-old tree, it’s not going to be a sure thing, but it’s a possibility.”

Cost is not likely to be a factor, she said, but the process is time-consuming.

If they were not looking for identical genetic material, the group could use the tree’s acorns, experts said. The acorns are not likely to be exact replicas, and could contain genetic material from any other tree in the area besides the famous oak.

Even if the cloning is successful, however, there is no guarantee that the offspring will live as long as its parent.

Sometimes, it’s just the luck of the draw, said Dirk Vanderklein, who teaches plant physiology at Montclair State University.

“All trees potentially can live quite long,” he said. “In fact, in theory, they can live forever. … The fact that that tree is the lone survivor of probably a couple thousand seeds that sprouted – it was just the luck of the lottery that that tree happened to make it through all the various things that have happened to all the other trees.”

Explore further

New method for assessing future tree and plant disease risks

©2013 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

Citation: Historic trees get a second shot at life with cloning efforts (2013, June 6) retrieved 1 February 2020 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

This guide to growing citrus from cuttings shows how to root and graft a citrus tree in one step.

Grafting and rooting citrus cuttings in one step.

Success in rooting citrus trees from cuttings requires the proper temperature, humidity, light levels, and rooting hormone. This guide shows how to grow citrus from cuttings with a good success rate at home without a greenhouse and without accidentally bringing a deadly citrus disease into your yard.

Growing Citrus from Cuttings – Rooting and Grafting Citrus – YouTube Video

In addition to this step-by-step guide, I have also made a YouTube video (see below) showing how to grow citrus trees from cuttings by rooting and grafting in one step. If you plan to try this yourself, be sure to read the rest of the article to learn some helpful details on rooting citrus cuttings that are not in the video.

Materials for Rooting Citrus Trees

I have set up a web page that lists the products that I used to successfully root citrus trees. You can find it here: Products for rooting citrus.

Grafting Citrus in a California Citrus Production Nursery

The best citrus trees are grafted to unite a roostock that produces superior roots with a scion that produces superior fruit. I first observed citrus trees being rooted and grafted in one step in a California citrus production nursery. A whip graft was used to connect the rootstock to the scion. A rubber band was used to hold the scion and rootstock closely together during the healing of the graft.

Whip grafting a citrus scion to a rootstock cutting.

Grafting with Disease Free Citrus Budwood

In California we now have a disease called huanglongbing that is 100% fatal to citrus trees. It reduces the life expectancy of citrus trees from hundreds of years down to around 5 years. In its early stages, the disease is very difficult to detect, but still extremely contagious. We also have insects called citrus psyllids that spread the disease. The disease is also easily spread by human movement of citrus trees and cuttings.

Because of the severe disease problem in California, all citrus cuttings used for the propagation of citrus in California are required to originate in an insect-resistant structure from trees that have been tested and shown to be free of disease. This is the case for both citrus nurseries and also for hobbyists. The below photo shows the nursery’s tested source trees inside an insect-resistant structure.

Source trees for citrus cuttings.

Application of Rooting Hormone

The bottom of the rootstock is chopped off before application of the rooting hormone.

Chopping the end off of the rootstock.

Then the grafted cuttings are dipped in a powdered rooting hormone and planted in a rooting medium.

Applying the rooting hormone and planting the grafted citrus cuttings.

Citrus Cuttings Rooting in the Nursery

To get roots to grow the cuttings require the correct temperature, humidity, and amount of light. In the citrus production nursery this is achieved by bottom heat and mist every 15 minutes.

Citrus cuttings rooting in an insect-resistant structure.

Growing Citrus from Cuttings at Home

I do not have a greenhouse, but after seeing citrus cuttings being grafted and rooted in a nursery, I wanted to see if I could do it myself at home in my garage.

Disease-free Citrus Cuttings for Hobbyists

A vegetatively propagated tree will have any diseases present in the mother tree. To avoid accidental outbreaks of disease, hobbyists in California who propagate citrus now order cuttings from a program called the Citrus Clonal Protection Program or CCPP instead of taking cuttings from trees outside. Citrus cuttings from the CCPP come from tested trees in insect-resistant structures. I ordered my citrus cuttings for my home citrus propagation experiment from the CCPP.

Much of the world now shares California’s problem with citrus disease. The CCPP will ship budwood anywhere in the world where the local laws allow it. Many citrus growing regions where CCPP budwood is not allowed have their own disease-free citrus budwood programs. Here I have created a web page that lists some other programs: Citrus Budwood Programs.

The below YouTube video goes through in detail the process of setting up an account and placing a budwood order with CCPP.

Sterilizing Grafting Tools

Sterilizing the grafting knife.

In order to both maximize the probability that the graft lives and also to prevent the spread of disease, it is important to sterilize grafting tools. To learn more about sterilizing grafting tools, please see the following link: Sterilizing Grafting Tools.

Making my own Pots

To observe the growth of the roots, I made my own pots from clear plastic cups. I drilled holes for drainage and cut off the lips to pack them more tightly.

Preparing transparent pots.

Rooting Medium for Citrus Cuttings

Coconut coir is the ideal rooting medium for citrus. Coconut coir is a recycled waste product made from coconut husks. It comes in dry bricks that are expanded by adding water. It works well for rooting because of its ability to retain a large amount of water.

Preparing the coconut coir.

Creating the Conditions for Success

To achieve the ideal temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 26.7 degrees Celsius, I put my planting tray on top of a heated mat on top of a piece of rigid insulation. A thermostat measures the temperature and turns on the heating mat when the temperature is below the ideal temperature. To maintain high humidity I covered my plants with a clear storage container.

Insulation, heating mat, tray, and cover.


Before I started, I pre-cut parafilm-M for wrapping the graft and mixed the liquid rooting hormone. I used a ratio of one part concentrated rooting hormone to four parts water.

Preparing parafilm and rooting hormone.

Grafting and Rooting the Citrus Cuttings

For my graft I used a grafting technique called Z grafting. I found the Z graft especially useful because it allowed me to join oddly-shaped cuttings together easily. I wrapped the grafts with parafilm-M and a rubber band. Next I cut off the bottom of the rootstock, dipped it in rooting hormone, and then planted the grafted citrus tree.

Grafting and rooting citrus.

Misting the Plants

Next I set up my heating pad, tray, and thermostat. Then I added the plants, misted them, and placed the temperature probe.

Misting the plants.

I added my cover to maintain a humid environment. I found that it was adequate to water and mist the plants every one or two days

Citrus cuttings are covered to maintain high humidity.

Buds Growing

Within a couple of weeks, many of the buds on the cuttings began to grow. This is a good sign, but roots take longer to grow.

Bud growing.



Within a few months, I had some plants that were growing roots. I gradually reduced the humidity for the plants with roots before repotting them outside. Once outside I gradually increased the amount of light to avoid shocking the plants.

Rooted citrus cuttings.

Improving the Success Rate

I was excited to succeed with some of the plants. Most of the plants failed to grow roots, however. My success rate rooting this first batch of plants was only around 10%. I had used T12 fluorescent lights and one theory was that they did not produce enough light to induce rooting in most of the plants.

Citrus plants with no roots

I upgraded to T5 fluorescent lights to see if I could get these plants to root. It was summertime and the added heat from the T5 lights was enough to increase the temperature to a fatal level for citrus plants. I decided to try again with another batch of plants in the winter when the temperatures in my garage would be lower.

T-5 lights generated fatal heat.

Good Success Rate

I grafted my second batch of trees in winter so that cooler air could balance the heat generated by the T5 lights. I switched to a new temperature controller that could control both the heating mat and also a fan to keep the temperature in the right range. I also set my timer for 14 hours per day of light. In my previous attempt with the T12 lights I had used 18 hours per day of light. Plants need a certain amount of darkness and 14 hours per day of light is a safer day length to avoid stressing the plants.

The new setup increased my success rate from around 10% to between 60% and 70%.

New thermostat and fan.

Rooted Plants

Here are the first rooted plants of my second batch ready to plant in bigger pots. In the second batch of plants I experimented with rockwool and smaller containers in addition to my plastic cups. Although I succeeded with the rockwool and the smaller containers, I prefer the cups when watering by hand because the rooting medium dries out more slowly due to the larger volume. In another article, I describe an experiment in citrus rootstock propagation that worked quite well with rockwool and automatic watering.

First plants to develop roots in the second batch.

Keeping Home-Propagated Citrus Trees at Home

To stop the spread of the deadly huanglongbing disease, it is important to keep home-propagated citrus trees at home. Citrus trees in California and any part of the world that has citrus psyllids are vulnerable outside of an insect-resistant structure. Although the use of the disease-free cuttings ensures that the trees start without disease, they can easily be infected by citrus psyllids which are so small as to escape notice. Keeping the trees at home will help to avoid accidental outbreaks of disease in new areas.

Save Trees by Sharing

Please share this article with anyone that you think may be interested in growing citrus trees from cuttings. Knowledge of the importance of using a registered disease-free budwood source when propagating citrus cuttings will help to prevent the accidental spread of huanglongbing and other citrus diseases and will save trees.

Resources for Californians

Please visit for more information on how to stop the spread of deadly citrus disease.

California Law Regarding Citrus Propagation

In California, the collection of any citrus propagative materials, including budwood and seeds, from non-registered sources is illegal. Any citrus trees grown or grafted in California must come from source trees registered with either:

  • The Citrus Nursery Stock Pest Cleanliness Program, administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, or
  • The Citrus Clonal Protection Program, located at the University of California at Riverside.


Thank you very much to Rock Christiano of CCPP who correctly theorized that the low rooting rate in my initial setup was because of low light levels. Rock also suggested the 14 hour day length to avoid stressing the plants.


This article was funded by a grant from California’s Citrus Research Board.

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