How to Root Fruit Tree Limbs

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Rooting cuttings from your existing fruit trees provide wonderful opportunities to grow new trees for your garden or orchard. With a few ingredients, care and patience, you'll achieve good levels of success in fruit tree propagation.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening shears
  • Rooting hormone
  • Plastic pots, 4-inch
  • Growing medium (vermiculite or sandy soil)
  • Gardening cloche or plastic bags
  • Misting unit (spray bottle)
  • Grafting knife

Growing Fruit Trees from Cuttings

  • Set up propagation area. You will want to root your fruit tree cuttings in a warm, humid, protected environment. A greenhouse is ideal, but if you don't have access to one, a small gardening cloche can work well. A cloche is an environment created by stretching plastic sheeting over a series of bent plastic tubes to form a mini-greenhouse. If a cloche is not possible to construct, simply placing a plastic bag over each individual cutting can create a suitable rooting environment.

  • Fill plastic 4-inch pots with a growing medium. Vermiculite or a sterile potting soil mixed with sand are both good choices. You want to avoid rot, so good drainage is essential to successfully rooting your cuttings.

  • Take your cuttings. The most prolific cuttings will be taken from the tips of the branches, where new growth happens. You will also have the greatest success with cuttings taken during the trees' heavy new growth phase. Carefully cut the tips of the branches off the tree you want to propagate. Cut them about 3 to 5 inches down, depending on the amount of visible new growth. The exposed wood on the inside of the cutting should be green and moist.

    Use a grafting knife to cut the exposed tip at an angle. This exposes more pliable wood to the rooting hormone and growing medium.

  • Dip cuttings in rooting hormone, then plant. Rooting hormone comes in varying strengths. Check with your local nursery person to determine the strength of hormone you should use for the type of tree you attempt to root. Dip the cut end of the cutting into a glass of sterile water, and then into the rooting hormone. Tap off any excess, clumping rooting hormone, and then plant the cut end into the growing medium in the 4-inch pots. Stick the end about 1 inch into the growing medium.

  • Mist the cuttings, then cover. Using a spray bottle with sterile water. Give them a good drink, so the soil is nice and wet. Then cover the cuttings with the plastic bags.

    In a more elaborate set-up, like a cloche or greenhouse, you can establish a timed misting unit to keep the cuttings moist. If you are watering by hand, you will want to mist the cuttings three to five times daily.

Tips & Warnings

  • A sterile growing environment is key. If you propagate in a greenhouse or cloche, clean the structures with a 10-percent bleach solution between crops or periodically to eliminate contaminants.
  • Bottom warming can also be helpful in certain environments. A heating pad placed underneath the cutting containers can help achieve desirable growing conditions.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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