How to clone a tree limb

How to Plant the Stem of a Tree to Clone | Home Guides

By SF Gate Contributor Updated July 15, 2021

Growing a tree from a cutting offers all the joy of raising a child without those troublesome teenage years. Trees "cloned" from cuttings are identical to the parent, so be certain you like what you see before you begin. Not every tree germinates from a cutting so you may need to consider other propagation methods. There are many trees that you can clone including birch, fig, cedar, fir, magnolia, dogwood and ginkgo. Once you choose an appropriate parent tree, you can create an entire forest without spending a fortune if you follow the right procedures for cloning trees.

  1. 1. Prepare Potting Medium

    Fill a flower pot with a well-draining, sterile potting medium. Make your own by blending one part peat and one part perlite or sand. Moisten the medium.

  2. 2. Select Cutting Type

    Determine whether the species of tree you wish to germinate requires softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings, advises North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. Softwood cuttings are flexible pieces cut from the tree in summer while you take stiff hardwood cuttings in winter. Semi-hardwood is halfway between in flexibility and should be taken in the fall.

    Most university extension articles on germinating trees provide lists of what kinds of cuttings different trees require. Alternatively, try one of each type of cutting from the same tree and see which one works best.

  3. 3. Take a Cutting

    Use sharp pruning shears to take cuttings from a healthy parent tree. Cut off a 6-inch section of current-season growth for each cutting. Select branch tips without any flowers or buds, if possible; remove any flowers or buds on the cuttings.

  4. 4. Add Rooting Hormone

    Remove leaves, if any, from the lower half of the cutting. Use a sharp pocket knife to slice off a thin strip of bark along the cut end of the stalk on either side of each cutting. Dip the cutting into root-promoting compound and tap off extra power, advises Michigan State University Extension.

  5. 5. Plant the Cutting

    Stick the cut end of the cutting into the soil in the planting container. Press it until half the cutting is under the soil. If you put more than one cutting into the same pot, space them far enough apart that all leaves on the cuttings can get sun. Put the cuttings in a greenhouse or cover with a sealed plastic bag, and place in indirect light. Keep the cuttings and their medium moist by watering when dry and misting with water daily.

  6. 6. Transplant the Tree

    Transplant your sapling to a pot containing regular potting soil once it has rooted and new growth appears. The amount of time this takes varies among species and even among cuttings. Irrigate the sapling whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Transplant to a permanent outdoor location in the fall of the young tree's second year.

    Things You Will Need

    Although experts recommend germinating 6-inch cuttings for cloning trees, you can sometimes plant a larger "stem" of a young tree with success. Cut it down to 36 inches, shorten the branches by half and stick the bottom 12 inches in fertile ground in the autumn. Water often enough to keep it moist in dry weather. Success depends on luck and the species of tree. Willows, for example, root easily.


    Take multiple cuttings for every tree you hope to grow. Germinating from cuttings is not an exact science and not every cutting will root.


  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, 13. Propagation
  • Michigan State University Extension: Rooting Hormones Improve Uniformity Among Vegetative Cuttings


  • Although experts recommend germinating 6-inch cuttings, you can sometimes plant a larger "stem" of a young tree with success. Cut it down to 36 inches, shorten the branches by half and stick the bottom 12 inches in fertile ground in the autumn. Water often enough to keep it moist in dry weather. Success depends on luck and the species of tree. Willows, for example, root easily.


  • Take multiple cuttings for every tree you hope to grow. Germinating from cuttings is not an exact science and not every cutting will root.

How to Clone Plants (with Pictures)

Plant Cloning is fun. People have done this for thousands of years. Any seasoned, as well as new gardeners, should always at least clone plants once.

While new growers may find it confusing, but the process is really simple within a few steps.

What is plant cloning?

Plant cloning is the act of producing identical genetical plants from an original plant.

Simply put, cloning is just to take the cutting/clipping of a plant and grow it elsewhere on its own. After 1-3 weeks, the roots will form from the cutting, and a new life of a clone begins.

Why clone plants?

There are several reasons why as a gardener you should propagate plants.

– Cloning is a quick easy and cost-saving method of making new plants.

– Cloning is an efficient way to keep the best genes as the new plants will inherit the same qualities and characteristics of the mother plants.

– Instead of the germination step when starting to grow a plant, making a clone is another widely used method of producing a new plant. Also, when the cuttings of the plants are inherently mature, they can also flower fast after rooting.

Cloning does not really affect the mother plant’s health. You can clone as many cuttings as you want as long as the original plants still have lots of branches.

But that doesn’t mean you can do ten clonings and all of them successfully root. It’s not uncommon to see some of your clones die before rooting. Expect that and don’t get discouraged.

There are several ways to propagate. In this post, I will cover the four primary effective methods to clone, which have been proven and used globally.

  •     Clone with rockwool
  •     Clone with soils
  •     Clone with water
  •     Clone with machines

Part 1 – Preliminary steps


1.1 Tools needed

– A healthy and vibrant plant
– Sterilized sharp scissors or knife
– Rooting powder/liquid/gel (optional)
– Plastic/humor dome to cover the cloner. (optional)
– Rockwool cubes/Soils/a cup of water/cloning machine (depending on the method you use for cloning)

1.2 Rooting hormones or not?

By nature, plants can produce the rooting hormones themselves after a short span of time. They have the auxins hormones themselves, which aid in the initial root creation. Some plants like tomatoes are easy to clone because they possess lots of natural auxins hormones while others are challenging to do without using an added hormone.

The rooting hormones help stir the plant cell growth and establish roots faster. Rooting hormones can be organic (honey, willow extract) or synthetic in the powder, liquid or gel form.

It may boil down to preferences if you want to use the rooting hormones or not. Some prefer to let plants grow naturally and do not like to use synthetic hormones that may contain chemicals. But you can only clone easily for some crops like tomatoes, mint, basil, rosemary, peppers without using rooting hormones. Other types such as large fruiting or single harvest crops are hard to clone without applying that stimulant.

Personally, I use the hormones because it speeds up the rooting process. Using it doesn’t decrease the cloning rate, but only to increase it. So why not?

2. Select

Select a healthy well-established plant, which does not indicate any sign of diseases for weeks.
Identify a vigorous branch that comes off from the main stem. You often see this as a “v” form, where you will see the new growth – new branch regrows after the cutting.

3. Cut

As new cuttings are very sensitive to microorganisms, bacteria, etc., be sure to clean and sterilize the scissors/knife /razor before doing.
Take a cutting at a 45-degree angle close to (not into) the main stem as this helps to increase the surface area, making it easy for the roots to sprout.
Then place your cutting into a glass of water immediately. Doing this helps prevent oxygen exposure because the new cutting is somewhat sensitive.

Choose the branches near the bottom of the plant, which possesses a higher rate of root production as they contain more natural rooting hormones.

The cutting should be at least 4 – 8 inches long.

Then remove all branches and leaves on the cutting’ sides, except for the top not to waste energy on photosynthesis, and let the cutting just focus on rooting.

If the top leaves are too long, you can cut and reduce them to prevent evaporation.

Part 2 – Cloning methods

1. Rockwool method

As rockwool naturally has a high pH level, you need to soak the rockwool cubes in neutral water overnight (or several hours) to bring their pH down.

Then, dip your cutting into a rooting hormone for 15 – 30 seconds. If the hormone is in the powder form, make sure the cutting’ s end gets a little wet before applying. You don’t need to dip the whole cutting into the hormone. Just cover it on the bottom part of the cutting.

Now time to place the stem into the rockwool and ensure that the stem end must come into contact with the rockwool cubes.

Mist it daily to moist the growing environment.

Place the cloner under normal daylight. If your place doesn’t have lights, you need to provide some grow lights like CFLs or T5 tubes (not something that is too intense like the HPs)

2. Potting Soil Method

Traditional cloning with soils is an easy yet efficient method.
Unlike rockwool, you don’t need to soak soils overnight. Just get the soils saturated enough.

Dip your cutting into the rooting hormones for 15 – 30 seconds, then place it into the potting soil

3. Water Cloning Technique

First, fill the cup/plastic bottle with 3/4 of tap/distilled water.

Prepare the water 15-20 minutes before starting to get the water in the cup close to the water of the room temperature.

Check to ensure the pH level of your water is at between 5.5 to 6.0.

Cut a piece of cling-wrap or plastic to cover and wrap over the top of the cup

Use a tip of a pen, or scissors to poke a hole in the cling-wrap or plastic. Make sure the hole size is smaller than the cutting stem to keep it tight into the pot.

Now, put the cutting into the pot, keeping its end at least 5 cm under the water. Place the cloning pot under the indirect sunlight, or low grow lights.

4. Cloning Machine Technique

Cloning machines seem to be the most efficient and quickest way to propagate plants.
It is effective for some reasons. First, your cutting is not immersed in water but is constantly misted with low-pressure water, which avoids diseases for the fragile roots. Second, there’s plenty of oxygen for the roots. Third, you can do multiple clones at one time.

The most important thing you is to get a cloning machine. And all the steps are very easy to do as follows.

Set up the cloning machine as per the manual.

Fill with the water at the indicated level.

Again, dip your cutting into the rooting hormones, then placed it into the neotypes.

After that, run the cloning machines, and voila.

For details about choosing and how to use the cloning machines, you can read our past post.

How to care for Your new Clones

Humidity Dome

If your cloning environment is right, you don’t need it. If not, you should. The humidity dome does help keep the moisture and humidity for your clones. This is very helpful when you don’t want to mist your cloners regularly and want to spend less checking and maintenance of it.


Cutting does poorly in cold places, so keep it in warm areas. The perfect temperature is at about 70 – 75oF (20-24oc). If the surrounding environment place is low in temperature, you can use a heater or a heating mat to keep the temperature in place.


If you cannot provide the cloners with enough daylight, you need to give it some grow lights. Since new cloners are weak, they don’t need full sunlight or intense grow lights. That’s why weak CFL bulbs or fluorescent T5 tubes work great.

The cloners don’t really need any light for the first 1-2 days, but some growers still put the clones under some soft lights for the first few days, and it is still fine.

After that, you can turn the lights on 18/24h a day. The rest 6 hours of darkness is essential because it is mostly the time when the roots form.


If you grow with rockwool, and soils, you need to mist them daily. For water cloning method, be sure to check the water too if it is drained, contaminated and needs replacing.
For cloning with machines, the misting is done automatically. If the system gets too hot, you can get a timer and set misting intervals.


In about 7 – 10 days, you can see the rooting. But other plants can take longer time, up to 3 weeks.
If by this time your cutting’s roots still don’t form, they will never show up. You should trash it, and do another cloning.

When you see that the root systems have shown up enough, time to do the transplantation.

If making the clones in the rockwool cubes or cloning machines, you can immediately see the roots sprouting.
But it gets a little harder when cloning with the soils because you cannot see inside of the pot.
No problems. You can check inside the soils after ten days or two weeks. A little trick is to let the soils dry a bit for easy checking and extraction into the new growing environment.
Another tip is to use a transparent pot with the soil or cloning method. You will see what happens inside it.

And it’s advised that you transplant the new cloner into a correct size of the container. The new container size must not too big as the young clone will need to adapt to a new environment.

This infographic below will give you a visual way to how to clone plants.


Share this infographic on your site.

<a href=”/how-to-clone-plants”><img src=”/wp-content/uploads/files/inline-images/how-to-clone-plants-infographic.png” border=”0″ /></a><br />Source: <a href=””> Gardening Blog</a>

How to clone plants

Cloning plants at home

Growing a garden from seed takes time, and the result is unpredictable. It is much easier to clone plants at home by rooting cuttings. This method allows replenishing hydroponics with clones of the most promising mother plants without material and time costs. In this case, you will be able to regulate the number of your plantations, their sex, as well as the external parameters and flavor characteristics of the fruits. There is another important plus of vegetative propagation - better survival compared to seeds and seedlings, as well as increased yields.

Cloning procedure

When using cloning to replenish a greenhouse, there are several steps to follow.

  1. We select healthy shoots with no signs of yellowing or leaf disease.
  2. With a sharp knife at an angle of 45 degrees, we cut off the young branch of the mother plant, which, unlike the old one, will easily form new roots.
  3. We put the cutting in water with a pre-adjusted pH of 5.8-6.2.
  4. We cut off almost all the lower foliage so that the seedling focuses on the formation of the root system and does not expend energy on the development of leaves;
  5. If necessary, update the cut before planting.

IMPORTANT: sharpen and clean the knife blade well. This will prevent damage to the mother plant and clone, as well as prevent pathogens from entering the fresh cut.

There are two methods of rooting cuttings . In one of them, growers wait for roots to form by soaking the cut cutting in water for 1-2 weeks. The second method is more efficient. It involves the use of root stimulants. Modern manufacturers offer a wide range of such drugs.

Rapid Rooting Stimulants

Highly effective rooting agents in the form of a gel and spray are available from the English brand Growth Technology. Gel formulas are more reliable, as they provide close contact of the drug with the cut area of ​​the cutting. As a result, the gel not only protects the clone from pathogens, but also supplies it with vitamins and hormones for rapid root formation. Compared with the traditional method, the result is achieved 10 days faster.

Clonex Growth Technology is suitable even for rooting branches with immature or overripe wood. It does not contain alcohol and is recommended as a safer and higher quality product than older powders.

Powerful Root Stimulator Clonex you can buy here.

BAC's Bioclone Root Accelerator is an alternative. It is suitable for both soil and hydroponics substrate. The drug protects the cut from moldy fungi and infections.

Bio roots from GHE is considered a good organic stimulant. It works in several directions: strengthens the root cap, increases immunity to pathogens, stimulates the development of friendly microorganisms for accelerated root growth. Economical, effective in any environment.

How else to speed up the establishment of clones?

To ensure the best rooting of cuttings , a number of recommendations must be followed:

  • Choose a substrate that will hold water well to provide the growing roots with sufficient moisture. Coconut substrate and mineral wool work best with this, but you should not choose perlite for planting clones.

  • Provide constant light to cloned plants to optimize photosynthetic reactions and get more carbohydrates needed for growth.
  • Maintain optimal temperature conditions, avoiding hypothermia and overheating.
  • Use reflectors or surround the cutting box with white material that effectively reflects light towards the seedlings.
  • Feed your clones with vitamin B1, N and K.

Good luck and big harvests! If you have any questions - ask them to High Growing specialists!

Garden "cloning" - VSP.RU

Fruit trees - apple trees, pears, plums, unfortunately, are not eternal. And after a certain period of time allotted by nature, they die. Therefore, every gardener simply needs to master the skills of repairing and restoring his garden.


A fruit tree, especially if it is productive and its fruits are tasty, it is necessary to prepare a replacement in advance, without waiting for its natural death. And it’s quite simple to do this - cut a branch from a favorite variety and plant it on a growing stock. Any cultivated fruit tree consists, as it were, of two parts - a rootstock resistant to adverse conditions (root system and a stem 20 or more cm high) and a crown developed from a grafted cutting of a cultivated variety.

For apple trees, wild Siberian berry apple trees or Dobrynya, Purple ranetki are grown from seeds as a rootstock. To obtain rootstocks for pears, the seeds of the wild Ussuri pear, Tyoma pear are sown, for plums, the seeds of Felt, Sandy or plum cherries are sown. Rootstock seedlings are suitable for grafting when their stems are the thickness of a pencil. If desired, the seedling can be grown up to three or four years of age and all grown branches can be grafted with one or more varieties. This is called skeletal grafting, and this technique is used to increase the winter hardiness of a good variety. Mature trees can also be re-grafted, if, for example, the quality of the fruits is mediocre, and winter hardiness is high.

Vaccinations are done either in spring - by cuttings, or at the end of summer - by a kidney (eye). Grafting with a kidney is called budding. Its advantages: from one branch of the scion, you can make several vaccinations, as well as repeat the failed spring vaccination with a cutting, because the root system and stem of the scion have been preserved.


Spring grafting with cuttings is done in different ways. The most common copulation is simple and improved. Can be grafted over the bark, split, etc. Spring vaccinations of stone fruits (plums, apricots) are carried out at the end of April, pears and apple trees - in the first decade of May. Cuttings (annual twigs) of the desired variety for spring grafting must be stocked in advance. They are usually cut in November before the onset of severe cold and stored in a snowdrift or in a refrigerator freezer, after wrapping it in a damp cloth (newspaper) and then packing it in polyethylene. It is permissible to cut the cuttings in the spring, just before grafting, but the buds should not be “awakened” so that they do not have a green “nose”. It is also necessary to check whether the branch is frozen (the wood of the cutting taken on the cut should be white, and under the bark without a brown layer). For summer grafting (budding), cuttings are cut immediately before work.

Before grafting, it is necessary to prepare the tools - secateurs and grafting knife. The knife must be very sharp (to shave the hairs on the arm), it is sharpened on whetstones of varying degrees of graininess, at the end, editing on a belt is desirable. Poor sharpening leads to tissue grinding at the cut, which prevents the tissue from overgrowing at the grafting site. You will also need garden pitch or PVA-based wood glue to cover wounds and wrapping material. As a winding, polyethylene strips 1-1.5 cm wide or cut along the strip of milk bags are used. It is permissible to use electrical tape, but it must be wound with the sticky side outward, otherwise, when it is removed, the bark can be torn off and the vaccine will die. You will need a jar of 0.5-0.7 liters of water, in which you can dissolve a little honey or sugar (0.5%), grafted cuttings are placed in it. There should be little water in the jar - 2-3 cm, only to cover the sections of the cuttings. You also need to purchase two or three "crocodiles" of different sizes, which are sold in radio parts stores. And be sure to prepare a label with the name of the variety.

After winter storage, the cuttings are kept for two or three days in the lower compartment of the refrigerator, then their lower ends are cut by 1-2 cm, placed in a jar with a layer of water at the bottom of 1.2-2 cm. In a day, the cuttings will “get drunk” and ready to be vaccinated.


For simple copulation, a scion cutting of the same thickness as the rootstock is selected. Before grafting, the stems of the rootstocks are wiped first with a wet, then with a dry cloth. Hands and tools should be clean, a damp cloth is usually wrapped around the forearm of the left hand to wipe the knife and accidentally contaminated fingers. We make a cut on the scion handle, the length of which should be at least four diameters of the branch (Fig. 1-3), the longer the cut, the better. We leave two or four buds on the handle, we make a cross section above the top one (Fig. 9) and place it in a jar of water, otherwise the cut will dry out. Then we make a cut of the same length on the rootstock and carefully combine the cuts of the rootstock and scion (Fig. 7). If the stock is thicker than the scion, it is necessary to ensure that the cuts are aligned on at least one side, while it is permissible to plan one of the side parts onto the stock (Fig. 7). To fix the sections in the desired position, we fix them with a “crocodile”, and then we wind them. We start it 1 cm below the cuts and end 1 cm above the cuts. In the process of tying, we remove the “crocodile”, and finish the tying with a loop, inserting its end under the last loop (Fig. 8). The winding should be made as tight as possible. If a kidney is stored on the opposite side of the scion cut, then it must be bypassed during the tying process, i.e. leave open (Fig. 8). It will begin to develop first and will feed the rest of the buds of the scion. We cover the cut above the upper bud of the scion with pitch or glue.

The most common improved copulation. After the cuts are made on the scion and rootstock, it is necessary to make splits on them at a distance of 1/3 of the cut length from the sharp part (Fig. 10). Then the scion and stock are combined so that the tongue of one goes into the tongue of the other (Fig. 11). If the thickness of the scion and rootstock is not the same, it is also permissible to plan one of the sides of the rootstock so that the cuts coincide on at least one side. In this case, fixing the slices with a "crocodile" is unnecessary. This is followed by a tight strapping, the upper cut of the handle is smeared.

During sap flow (when the bark easily falls behind the wood) the cutting can be grafted onto the bark. This is mainly done after cutting down the dead tree into the remaining healthy part of the stump. An oblique long cut is also made on the cutting of the scion, and on the opposite side of the cut, the upper skin is peeled off. On the hemp of the scion, the bark is first separated from the wood with a sharp wooden spike and the prepared scion stalk is inserted there. You can insert two or three cuttings (Fig. 12), after which the stump with vaccinations is tied very tightly. It is more convenient to graft behind the bark with a cut (Fig. 13). In this case, the bark on the rootstock is cut at a distance of 3 cm from the cut, slightly separated from the wood and the prepared cutting is inserted. This is followed by a tight strapping around the entire stump. The upper part of the cuttings and cut hemp is covered.

It can also be grafted by the bark into a thick side branch of a mature tree (fig. 14). An oblique saw cut is made on the branch, it is cleaned with a knife, the bark is cut 3 cm long from above, separated from the wood and the graft is inserted, then tightly wrapped. The strapping must necessarily cover the lower cut of the branch, otherwise it will dry out and the graft will die.


When the grafted cuttings begin to grow and reach 15–20 cm, the tie is removed. To protect the grafted trees from the windbreak, they make protection. Tire sticks are superimposed on the cuttings grafted onto the side branches and not very tightly tied in three places: below the grafting site, above it and above it. A stake is hammered to the side of a separately grafted tree and a shoot is tied to it with a figure eight. If two or three vaccinations were made on the stump, the pegs are driven in for each cutting separately and also tied with a figure of eight. Tires are removed in the spring of the following year, while during the summer you need to make sure that the strapping does not crash into a growing branch.

At the end of summer it will become clear which of the cuttings were not successful. You can fix the matter by resorting to a summer vaccination - budding, which is carried out from August 15 to September 15.

The one-year shoot for budding is cut immediately before work or the day before. All leaves are immediately cut off from the shoot, leaving a part of leaf petioles about 1 cm long, and placed in a jar of water. The shoot must be with well developed buds and fully matured - i.e. end with a large apical bud, and not with young leaves. For vaccinations, the largest buds are taken from the middle part of the shoot. Rootstocks are pre-prepared: two weeks before the start of work, they are watered abundantly. The day before, the lower part of the stock is cleaned - the branches are cut off with a sharp knife, the leaves are sniffed. On the day of vaccination, the stems of the rootstocks are wiped first with a wet, then with a dry cloth. They choose a place with a smooth smooth bark for a rootstock, make a cut of the bark at the grafting site with a slight depression in the wood 2.5-3.0 cm long (Fig. 15) and then cut off 1/3 of the bark strip from above (Fig. 16). Then they take the shoot (graft) ready for budding with the left hand with the top away from you. Below the selected kidney, 1.2-1.3 cm from it, with a knife blade, make a transverse incision in the bark, going a little deeper into the wood, place the knife at an angle of 45 degrees (Fig. 17). Then put the knife 1.2-1.3 cm above the kidney and start a longitudinal cut of the shield. Gradually, slightly deepening the knife into the wood, guide it until it comes into contact with the lower transverse notch (Fig. 18). Taking the cut shield by the rest of the leaf petiole, insert it into the prepared cut on the rootstock (Fig. 19) and tie tightly (Fig. 20), leaving the petiole of the leaf outside. For insurance, you can plant two or three buds per stem. On the 20-21st day, we check the survival rate of the eyes. If the eye has taken root, the petiole easily falls off when touched. In this case, the strapping can be removed, but it is better to leave it until spring. If the eye has not taken root, then budding can be repeated on the other side of the stem. In the spring of next year, the strapping is removed, the stock is cut off just above the level of the accustomed eye, the cut is covered. When the shoot begins to grow and reaches 20–25 cm, a peg is driven into the tree and the shoot is tied with a figure eight. In the future, it is necessary to remove from the stem all the branches of the stock that grow from sleeping buds.

The art of grafting is often considered difficult by gardeners, and first graftings are often unsuccessful for beginners. Therefore, listen to the advice of V.A. Starostin, candidate of agricultural sciences. These are the “little things” on which, according to him, success depends. Firstly, before starting work, you need to practice on wild tree species - wild apple tree, Ussuri pear, poplar. Skill and eye are developed only by experience. Secondly, the novice grafter does everything slowly. The stalk dries out during this time, the cambium oxidizes. You need to first prepare the scion and place it in a jar of water, then make a cut on the rootstock. The work must be done as quickly as possible, even if at first not even very carefully. Thirdly, poor binding, stock and scion shifts during wrapping. Fix the stock with a scion "crocodile", moisten the cuts with at least saliva and tighten the winding as tight as possible (not only allowing it to break). Fourth, a very short, stubby cut. The cut should be even and long, optimally 4-5 cm and not shorter than 3 cm. And the fifth is a dull knife. The grafting knife must be carefully sharpened on small bars and finished on a whetstone or belt.

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