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How to Grow a Tree From a Branch Cutting (9 Expert Tips)

woman pruning citrus tree planted in a pot

Growing a tree from a branch cutting is an inexpensive and relatively easy way to get a new tree, but it can take a while to take hold, which causes many people to be unsure whether they are doing it the right way. If this sounds like your situation, keep reading as we provide several tips and tricks to help you have better luck on your next attempt.

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Before You Begin

We recommend getting several supplies together before you begin your project, so you won’t need to stop until you finish. Fortunately, you only need a few things.

Tools and Material
  • Planting pots
  • Coarse sand
  • Clean gardening shears
  • Sharp knife or box cutter
  • Rooting hormone
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic wrap

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How to Grow a Tree From a Branch Cutting

1. Prepare Your Planter

woman putting soil or peat moss into a planter pot

The first thing that you will want to do when growing a tree from a branch cutting is to prepare your planter. Fill the planter with a soilless medium that won’t get in the way of root growth. You can use coconut coir and peat moss, but the best option is likely sand. Fill the pot and water it, so it feels moist throughout, and make a hole about 1 inch wide and 3–4 inches deep to prepare for the cutting.

2. Select a Branch

Choose a branch on the tree that is less than 1 year old. Cut at a 45-degree angle right below a bud, using clean gardening pruning shears. The cutting should be 6–12 inches long.

3. Prepare the Cutting

gardener cutting green branch with pruning shears
Image By: Teona Swift, Pexels

Remove any leaves or needles from the bottom 2–3 inches of your trimming. If you are making a hardwood clipping, wound the bottom 1–2 inches of the cutting by making vertical cuts on each side with a sharp knife. This will help the cutting absorb more rooting hormones and water, which will help new roots appear faster. When making the cuts, keep them close to the surface.

4. Use a Rooting Hormone

Choose a rooting hormone, and follow the instructions on the package carefully to prepare it. In most cases, you will need to mix a small amount of the powder with clean water in a saucer. Then, dip the cut end of your clipping into the solution so it coats the bottom 2 inches before pulling it out and shaking off any excess.

5. Plant Your Clipping

woman in a greenhouse potting plants
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Once you shake off the excess rooting hormone, quickly plant the clipping into your pot. Add more sand to help keep it in place, then use a spray bottle to mist the stem, soil, and leaves with clean water.

6. Cover It

Place a few long skewer sticks at the edge of the pot to support the plastic wrap that you will place over it to hold in moisture.

7. Provide Sunlight and Water

Water from a traditional watering can
Image Credit: J K Daylight, Shutterstock

Place your clipping where it will get plenty of indirect sunlight with an ambient temperature of around 65–70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature fluctuates significantly, you can use a heat mat under the pot to help keep the soil temperature more consistent.

8. Check Daily

Check your cutting daily to make sure the soil is moist, and spray it as necessary. A gentle tug on the cutting will tell you if roots are forming.

9. Transplant

transplanting or repotting a mango tree into pot with soil
Image Credit: Regina Burganova, Shutterstock

Once you notice that the roots are forming — typically after 3–6 months, depending on the type of wood — you can transplant the clipping into a pot containing standard potting soil, where it will continue to grow into a tree.

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Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I Grow a Tree From a Broken Branch?

Many people wonder if it is possible to grow a new tree from a large broken branch that occurs due to an accident or storm. Unfortunately, it’s usually not possible to use a broken branch as a clipping, but you can likely use smaller branches that you clip off a larger one.

Can I Put the Clipping Directly Into the Soil?

Yes. Many kinds of wood will produce roots if you put the clipping directly into the ground. However, you might not know for several months if you were successful. Using the steps listed here will improve your chances, and you will likely learn the results sooner.

Why Don’t I Start the Roots in Water?

Many gardeners like to start growing roots from a tree clipping in water instead of sand, which can make it easier to see if and when the roots begin to grow. However, if the roots are used to growing in water, the transition to soil might shock them and set them back. When you start the roots in the sand, the transition is more natural.

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Growing a new tree from a branch cutting is not difficult. It only requires you to select a suitable branch, cut it with clean pruning shears, and soak it in a special root-growing hormone before planting it in a pot filled with coarse sand and covering it with plastic wrap to seal in humidity. After that, mist it daily with water, and check for signs that roots are developing, which should occur in 3–6 months. Once roots grow, replant the cutting in high-quality topsoil, and enjoy your new tree.

Featured Image Credit: Gustavo Fring, Pexels


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