It's gorgeous, healthy and well-loved. A tree that provides enjoyment, beauty and shade to your outdoor landscaping or indoor haven can be propagated fairly easily. This will generate an identical specimen that can be replanted indoors or out. While it seems simple to start a new tree from a single branch, it does take some understanding of the workings of a tree as well as the best water and light conditions to get the most robust roots to grow from a cut tree branch.
Reasons for Propagating a Tree
There are many reasons to propagate from an existing tree. You may want to easily and inexpensively grow an identical tree in another part of the yard. Or maybe you'd like to try your hand at growing the same type of tree indoors to enjoy all year long. A cutting from your tree that's ready to be transplanted is also a lovely and sentimental way to share something you enjoy with someone close to you.
Types of Cuttings
Some trees take better to the process of growing roots from cuttings than others. Hardwood cuttings should be done in the early spring. Hardwoods include spruce and pine trees. Softwood cuttings, also best when cut during the new growth of spring, can use a little rooting hormone on its rough stem where it's been cut to get it to grow. It can also handle moist soil to get it to root. Softwood includes oleanders and other large shrubs.
Growing a Tree from a Branch
The key is in the cutting and controlling the water, light exposure and container. Fresh tree cuttings in water need a lot of humidity to assist them in growing roots for a successful transplant. For a single cutting, a flower pot is fine to use. Cover the bottom of the pot with a clear plastic bag or, if small enough, a plastic jug cut in half. This will keep the humidity high while also making it easy to monitor the water level and drainage. For larger crops of cut branches, uses a rimmed plastic tray with a wire frame and plastic stretched over the top. Mist the cuttings on a regular basis to keep the humidity high. Make sure there are holes in the bottom of the plastic bags, jugs or trays so that the water doesn't get rancid. The cuttings will need bright light but not subjected to direct sunlight that can cause them to struggle. There may be some wilted leaves during the process, so just remove those to give the plant a good chance at growing healthy roots. It will take a few weeks to months to get the cutting to its fully established state. Once the roots are long, healthy and thick with new life, they're ready to be transplanted.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.