from Darren Murphy, Club President
Propagation by taking branch cuttings is a method of cloning a mature tree to produce additional specimens. Fruit trees cuttings are required when the fruit is a seedless variety or you need a fast propagation method. Propagate fruit trees by taking softwood cuttings in late spring through early summer or semi-hardwood cuttings in mid summer to late summer. Softwood cuttings are fragile and dry out quickly, but produce roots quickly when placed in the proper environment.
Cut a six-inch softwood or hardwood branch section of the fruit tree with a sharp knife. Take softwood cuttings from the end portion of the branch where the stem is beginning to mature and snaps in half when bent. Take semi-hardwood cuttings from the end portion of the branch where the stem is becoming woody and beginning to harden.
Purchase rooting medium or create your own by mixing equal amounts of course sand, sterile peat moss and perlite. Add water to the medium to moisten. Fill a rooting tray with the moist medium.
Cut off all leaves from the lower half of the fruit tree cutting with a sharp knife. Pour a small amount of powdered rooting hormone onto a piece of waxed paper. Dip the cut end of the branch cutting into the hormone and gently tap to remove excess.
Stick the fruit tree cutting into a rooting tray filled with moist rooting medium to a depth of two to three inches. Tamp the medium around the cutting to hold it in place. Place the cuttings in the tray so the leaves are not touching.
Mist the cuttings with water and place a clear plastic bag over top of the tray. Secure the covering closed with a rubber band. Set the rooting tray in an area that has indirect, bright sunlight and maintains a temperature of approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pull on the softwood tree cuttings after three weeks of growth to see if there is resistance from root formation. Pull on semi-hardwood cuttings after six weeks of growth. Continue to grow the fruit tree cuttings until the roots reach a length of one inch. Gently remove the soil around the stem cutting to observe root formation and length.
Transplant all cuttings with one inch or longer roots into individual growing pots. Fill the pots with a sterile potting soil moistened with water. Gently remove the rooting cuttings from the tray and plant one in each growing pot at the same depth it was previously growing.
Grow the transplanted fruit tree cuttings indoors for a minimum of one year. Transplant the cuttings outdoors the following spring season.
Things You’ll Need
- Sharp knife
- Rooting medium
- Course sand
- Sterile peat moss
- Rooting tray
- Rooting hormone
- Waxed paper
- Water mister
- Plastic bag
- Rubber band
- 4-inch growing pots
- Sterile potting soil
North Caroline State University: Plant Propagation with Stem Cuttings
Washington State University: Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Tree and Vines