Propagating laurels from cuttings can be challenging, but if you make the cuttings with care and follow the experts' recommended procedure, propagating from cuttings is likely the best way, and you will eventually have a hedge of laurel shrubs bordering your landscape. Laurels are notoriously difficult to grow from seeds.
Winter is the best time to take cuttings of laurels. The plant is dormant and the rooting process should be complete by time the warm spring weather sets in.
Propagate Laurel Using Stem Cuttings
Step 1: Take the Cutting
Cut 5 to 6 inches off the end of a live branch with a very sharp knife to make a cutting. The cuttings should be trimmed of all leaves except the top three or four. The bottom of the cut should include part of the main stem (the heel). Cut the bottom at an angle. Wrap the stems in damp paper towels and place them in a plastic bag.
Step 2: Prepare the Container
Pour potting soil or specialized rooting medium into a gallon pot.
Step 3: Treat the Cutting With a Rooting Hormone
Dip the cutting in water. Mix up a bowl of rooting hormone solution. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone solution. Gently shake off excess fluid.
Step 4: Plant the Cutting
Press a 6-inch hole into the soil or rooting medium. Pour an inch of sand into the bottom of the hole and push the cutting into the hole with the leaves sticking out. Press soil into the hole and around the cutting.
Step 5: Water the Cutting Appropriately
Water gently around the cutting, just enough to moisten the soil without soaking. Too much water will cause the cutting to rot.
Step 6: Protect the Cutting for a Year
Place the pot in a sheltered place with full sun for at least part of the day. After the cuttings product roots in about six weeks or so, if all danger of frost is past, place the pot outside in a sunny place. Keep moist, but not soggy. It will take a year for the sapling to grow strong enough to transplant into the place where it will grow.
Propagate Laurel Using Root Cuttings
Step 1: Select the Root and Sever It
Uncover a root from the laurel you are cloning. Do this in winter when the tree is dormant. Select a 6- to 8-inch section of root the thickness of a pencil. Cut the end closest to the tree. Make the cut straight across. Cut the opposite end away from the tree at an angle. The cuttings must be placed right side up from the way the root grew.
Step 2: Prune the Cutting to a 2-Inch Length
Cut each 6-inch stem into 2-inch lengths. Cut the top straight across and the bottom of each root section at an angle.
Step 3: Plant the Cutting
Moisten the cuttings, then dust the lower ends with sulfur. Fill gallon pots with soil or specialized rooting medium. Press a hole in the soil with your finger. Fill the bottom of the hole with sand, then place the angled bottom of a cutting in the hole.
Step 4: Water the Cutting Regularly
Pour rooting medium into the hole, pack soil around the cutting and cover the top with 1 inch of soil. Water regularly so the soil remains moist but not soggy. Place the pot in a sheltered sunny place till spring.
Step 5: Protect the Cutting
Set the pot outdoors in a sunny place when shoots appear. Keep moist. It will take about a year for the sapling to be large enough to safely plant in its chosen spot. Do not plant outdoors till all danger of frost has passed.
Tom King published his first paid story in 1976. His book, "Going for the Green: An Insider's Guide to Raising Money With Charity Golf," was published in 2008. He received gold awards for screenwriting at the 1994 Worldfest Charleston and 1995 Worldfest Houston International Film Festivals. King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Southwestern Adventist College.