Propagating plants can be a great way to add to your collection, and they make fun gifts to offer friends and family. Many plants can be propagated from cuttings, including pine trees (Pinus spp.). The Mugo pine (Pinus mugo, USDA zones 2-8) and Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus, zones 3-8) are among the easiest pine species that can be rooted from cuttings. To successfully grow pine trees from cuttings, follow the proper steps for taking the cuttings and planting and caring for them.
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Taking Pine Tree Cuttings
Taking the right cuttings from a pine tree is important to successful propagation. It depends on the stage of growth of the stems as to when you take cuttings. For example, mugo pine is best rooted from softwood cuttings, while Eastern white pine is best rooted from hardwood cuttings. Softwood is the new growth, which is still soft and pliable, and hardwood is older growth, which is older and hardened.
The best time to take softwood cuttings from pine trees generally is during May, June, and July when the new growth has flushed but has not hardened yet. The best time to take hardwood cuttings is during winter, when the tree is dormant.
Use sharp hand shears to take the pine tree cuttings by making a slightly angled cut. You want a length of around 6 inches. Remove any side shoots around the lower 2 inches of the cutting. You can also make some small, vertical cuts at the base of the cutting. These wounds can help stimulate root growth. Place the cutting with the soft growth pointing upward and out of the soil to allow the other end to root.
Planting Pine Cuttings
Wash and dry the base of the cutting and then dip it in rooting powder. This will help the cutting to grow roots plus minimize the risk of rot. Make a hole in your soil using a pencil or stick; then insert your powdered cutting into the hole.
You can fit several pine cuttings in each pot. You'll want soil that drains well, so mixing your usual potting soil with some horticultural perlite can help. Submerge the bottom half of the cutting in the soil, ensuring no needles are in contact with the soil.
Growing Pines From Cuttings
The first months of your propagation process should be all about establishing healthy roots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Ensuring you have a pot and soil type with good drainage will help prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.
When checking to see if the cuttings have successfully rooted, avoid tugging hard so that you don't damage the delicate roots. You may also be able to see some root growth from the base of the pot.
Any cuttings that have rooted can be repotted. It's best to move new cuttings to larger, individual pots at this stage, adding some pine fertilizer if you wish. Your pine tree cuttings can live in their pots for a couple of seasons to help better establish the plants. You can then transplant your new pine trees into the ground.