Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hardwood Cuttings from Trees. Progress Report.

I'm starting to think this propagation method is very good. Not just for figs. Fig cuttings root easily by almost any method. These were prunings I had lying around this winter. I did what I've been doing to jump start fig cuttings. Use cuttings about 6-8 inches long. As thick as practical - pencil thickness seems good.  Thinner or thicker seems to work. Make incision through bark and cambium layer using sharp pocket or kitchen knife. Dip in rooting hormone dip-and-grow at 1:10 dilution 1 to 2 minutes. Wrap in moist paper towel. Place into plastic bag and close. Keep in warm place.
These cuttings are from ornamental plum.  They have calloused well.  There is some top growth.  Not sure if roots are developing yet.  I think I see root initials.  So these are still in the "maybe" category as to whether they will develop into little trees.

Laburnum (golden chain tree) cuttings. These are also a few weeks old. Same method. The top cutting is a "mallet" cutting. It is a small branch. The base is trimmed with some remaining stem from the 2-year growth, trimmed.  The bottom cutting is similar, pruned just below the junction with the previous years' growth.  The middle cutting is just new wood.  All have calloused and are forming roots.  Some previous years' growth seems to work best.  Small sample size of course.  With these, some previous years' cambium seems to help.

Redmond American Linden. These have some callous. They leaked a jelly-like sap for a while. Not much. The root initials look promising.  They are also in the "maybe" category, as to whether I'll get trees from them.  If the tops grow too fast, they might overwhelm the almost embryonic roots.


  1. Hello, thank you for your post. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your hardwood cutting propagation method. Specifically, after you dip them, do you wrap the cuttings individually in moist paper towels, or do you tie the cuttings in bundles and wrap in moist paper towels?
    I have a few bonsai that I want to try take hardwood cuttings from (crab apple, trident maple, zelkova).

  2. Victor, sorry for the delayed response. I have been demolishing a kitchen and less time online. I hope to finish that project soon :-)

    There are many right ways to do hardwood cuttings. Some species are easy, and some just don't take. For example, I started Hollywood plum, a Prunus cerasifera, and 6 out of 6 cuttings grew. At the same time and in the same garden I tried to start Shiro plum, Prunus salicina, and none grew. For really easy plants, like willows, we just stick them into the ground when dormant, and they take root with nothing added. I've done that for some roses, buddleia, and forsythia, as well. Figs strike very easily. To speed it up for figs, I score 1 or 2 incisions in the lower few inches, with a sharp knife, dip into rooting hormone - Dip-n-Gro - and place them in a zip-lock bag with moist paper towels. I check the paper towels every few days for mildew, and if there is any mildew, I replace the paper towel with a fresh one. That has also worked for some plums. I think that would work for crab apple, but I have never done that. Most apple rootstocks are varieties of apple that are grown from rooted shoots using a stooling method which is different but still ultimately a modified cutting method that leaves the shoots on the original plant as they grow, while keeping soil hilled around the shoots. You can google on stooling for more. I would try the crab apple by the incision + rooting hormone to see what happens. I have not done that myself, so it's a guess. I think maples would be more difficult, but I have never tried them. Ditto for the zelkovia.

  3. Oh, more answer to your question - I do wrap individually in paper towels. You do have to watch them so roots don't intertwine too much with the paper, or each other. If too intertwined, I soak for a while to let the paper disintegrate, or plant with some of the paper on the roots, doesn't seem to hurt anything.

  4. Update, on the cuttings on this page, the Laburnums grew roots, and have continued to stay alive. However, the plants are only a very small shrub. They have not grown into trees. The plum grew into trees. The lindens did not survive.