How to root a tree branch without cutting

How to Root a Tree Branch Without Cutting | Home Guides

By SF Gate Contributor Updated August 29, 2020

Air layering is an asexual or vegetative method of propagating trees without planting seeds or taking cuttings. Roots actually form while the potential cutting is still on the tree. By remaining attached to the tree during root formation, the air-layered branch receives sunlight and a natural environment. Another advantage of air layering over rooting cuttings is less frequent monitoring. Make air layers on last season's wood during spring or on new wood in late summer, recommends Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

  1. 1. Prepare the peat moss

    Place a handful of sphagnum peat moss for each intended air layer in a sealable plastic bag, pour water into the bag and seal. Sphagnum peat moss used for air layers must be thoroughly moistened, which can take an hour or more.

  2. 2.

    Select the branch

    Select a branch approximately the diameter of a pencil and locate a node – a leaf bud – approximately 12 inches from the tip of the branch.

  3. 3. Girdle the branch

    Cut a ring around the circumference of the branch – a girdling cut – approximately 1/4 inch below the selected node, cutting through the cambium, or bark, but avoid cutting into the wood.

  4. 4. Girdle below the first cut

    Make a second girdling cut in the same manner 1 inch below the first cut.

  5. 5. Loosen the girdled band

    Slit the band of bark between the two girdling cuts with a vertical cut and loosen the band.

  6. 6. Remove the girdled bark

    Remove the band of bark and scrape any remaining cambium off of the exposed wood.

  7. 7.

    Apply rooting hormone

    Dip a cotton swab into the rooting hormone and apply the hormone to the exposed wood on the branch so that the rooting hormone clings to the surface of the exposed band

  8. 8. Wrap the branch in moss

    Open the sealed bag of sphagnum peat moss and take out a handful of moss. Hold the moss in place around the exposed band on the branch while covering the moss with polyethylene plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap with twine or electrical tape.

  9. 9. Monitor the air layer

    Check the air layer every few weeks to maintain adequate moisture in the peat moss and to monitor rooting progress.

  10. 10. Sever the branch

    Sever the branch below the rooted band after roots fill the peat moss. Tree-branch air layers generally take one season to form roots.

    Things You Will Need
    • Sphagnum peat moss

    • Sealable plastic bag

    • Sharp knife

    • Hormone rooting powder

    • Cotton swab

    • Polyethylene film (plastic wrap)

    • Twine or electrical tape


    Sterilizing equipment used for plant propagation is a common practice. However, Ventura County Cooperative Extension of the University of California refutes the value of equipment sterilization, indicating there is potential damage to equipment through caustic chemicals such as alcohol or household bleach and that benefits for disease reduction are not proven. Be on the safe side and wash your knife with soap and water and rinse well. Dry with a clean paper towel.


    Propagating grafted trees by air layering is not recommended. Trees grafted onto root stock take on certain characteristics of the roots, such as disease resistance or increased hardiness. A rooted branch from a grafted tree does not express all the characteristics of the parent tree.


  • Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Air Layering For Difficult-To-Root Plants

How To Successfully Root a Tree Branch

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Trees are gorgeous, and sometimes you have a favorite. However, if you plant seeds from your beloved tree, they might not grow up to be what you hoped, as the seeds are the result of two trees coming together through pollination.

Duplicating your favorite tree means rooting a tree branch. But how?

Rooting a tree branch requires that the cutting is under a year old. The branch must start in water or sandy soil. Dipping the cut end in hormone powder is believed to raise the odds of success. The cutting will take anywhere from a few weeks to months before being ready for transplanting.

Rooting a tree branch is often preferred to air layering or growing from seed because it is faster. However, not all trees will grow from cuttings.

Deciduous trees are usually the easiest to grow from a cutting, while evergreens are often considered the hardest.

How To Root A Tree Branch In Water Or Soil

Rooting a tree branch is pretty straightforward. However, you do need to ensure it isn’t a grafted tree. Rooting a grafted tree branch will not result in a duplicate but a tree of the scion (the non-root stock tree used during grafting).

Be sure to research what type of season your tree of choice does best with rooting. For example, softwood trees root best if the cutting is taken in spring or early summer. Hardwood trees, however, tend to root best at the end of autumn or early winter.

  1. You need to cut a branch from the tree that is less than a year old. Preferably use a sterile pruner or knife. The branch should be between 6-10 in (15 – 25 cm) long.
  2. Remove leaves and buds from the lower part of the branch that will be submerged.
  3. If using rooting hormone (advised for tree cuttings), dip the cut part into it, or apply gently.
  4. If using water: place it in a container with around 7.5 cm. Do add water regularly and change once a week. If using soil: place it in a pot with soil that drains well, such as sandy soil or potting soil. Keep the contents moist. Using cling film or a plastic bag with holes can help ensure the soil doesn’t dry out between watering.
  5. The branch will take at least a few weeks, if not months before its new roots are thick and long. Once the roots are looking hearty, you can transplant the new tree.

The advantage of rooting the branch in water is that you can easily see when the new roots are ready to be transplanted. However, if your pot is clear (such as the sawed-off bottom of an old soda bottle), you watch for the roots to form in the soil.

The transfer from water to soil can be hard on a plant. David Clark, a horticulturist, advises slowly adding a bit of soil over the course of a few weeks to help your plant transition.

If you want to see someone rooting tree branches with soil, Veronica Flores has a YouTube video that will walk you through it:

How To Root A Tree Branch With Air Layering

Air Layering is propagating a new tree without taking a cutting. Instead, you select a branch from the tree and leave it on the tree while it makes new roots.

Some people find this method more successful than rooting a branch from a cutting. However, air layering usually takes longer than typical rooting methods.

  1. Prepare your sphagnum peat moss. Place it in a plastic bag with added water and seal it. Leave it for at least an hour. If you don’t have sphagnum peat moss, you can try potting soil. It isn’t ideal but will be better than other options.
  2. Locate a healthy branch that’s as fat as a pencil. Find a node (leaf bud) that should be a foot (30.5 cm) from the branch’s tip.
  3. Cut a ring on the branch .25 in (.6 cm) below the node using a sterile implement. You want to go deep enough that you are past the bark but not cutting the wood. Alternatively, you can wrap copper wire at the same spot you would typically cut. The wire needs to gouge halfway through the bark.
  4. Coat your “wound” (the ring) with rooting hormone.
  5. Pack your sphagnum peat moss around the “wound,” then wrap it with cling film. Then secure it with twine, tape (electrical is good), or zip ties.
  6. Check your branch every week or two to ensure it has plenty of moisture.
  7. Once the peat moss is clearly filled with roots (typically takes an entire season), you can detach the branch from the tree.

Some people are now using air layering pods rather than traditional air layering methods. They claim to be safer for the tree while being more secure than your twine and cling film method. They come in three sizes and cost around ten dollars for a pack of ten.

Want to see a demonstration of air layering? Watch this YouTube video:

Popular Trees To Root From A Branch

Fruit trees are one of the most common to root. An apple is a wonderful option to try if you have never rooted a branch before.

14 Popular Fruit Trees To Root From A Branch

  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Cherry
  • Fig
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Olive
  • Orange
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Pomelo
14 Non-Fruit Trees To Root From A Branch
  • Arborvitae
  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Cypress
  • Fir
  • Elm
  • Hemlock
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Tsuga
  • Willow

When rooting a non-fruit tree, it will be easier to do it from a deciduous than an evergreen. This is because evergreen branches are often brittle. But if you like a challenge, give them a go.

Using Natural Rooting Hormones

There is growing popularity of trying to use natural rooting hormones. Two common choices are honey and cinnamon.

Honey is not actually a rooting hormone. However, honey does have antibacterial properties, which makes it worthwhile when using it for other cuttings.

Cinnamon is trickier because in much of North America, cinnamon isn’t even cinnamon. However, there is evidence that oil from real cinnamon does have anti-fungus properties. This can be useful when propagating some plants, especially roses.

When it comes to rooting tree branches, using honey or cinnamon isn’t going to hurt the tree branch. It may even eliminate some bacteria or fungus that may have transferred to the branch when being cut. But it isn’t going to give you the benefits of a rooting hormone.

Final Thoughts

Whether you root a tree branch using water, soil, or air layering, moisture and patience are key to success. Don’t let your branch dry out, and remember that some tree varieties can up to an entire season to produce enough healthy roots.

However, no matter how you decide to root a tree branch, it is still faster than growing from seed.


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cuttings or it is better to dig a branch for rooting

In this article we will consider such a method of propagating an apple tree as rooting branches. It is important to know and understand all the subtleties of this technology so that the process ends with success.

Cuttings and twigs of apple trees for rooting should be no more and no less than 1 year .

They are cut into 20 cm long, there should be 3 buds on one handle.

Select only green shoots which are whitish-green in cut. Twigs with a yellow-brown cut are not suitable for propagation. Follow the advice of professionals on how to root cuttings of an apple tree, and you will succeed!

Contents of the article:

  • 1 How to root apple branches?
    • 1.1 Useful videos
  • 2 How to dig up an apple branch for rooting?
  • 3 Rooting apple cuttings in water
  • 4 Rooting apple cuttings in the ground
  • 5 Conclusion and useful tips

How to root apple branches?

Important! In winter, select a fully mature young one-year or two-year-old branch, break it, being careful not to damage the bark.

One shoot can be broken in several places every 20 cm. After fixing the branch in this position, wrap the stick so that the branch does not straighten.

In the spring at the beginning of March, the tree will send nourishing juices to the broken branches to heal them. Therefore at the beginning of April, you can cut off the tape and cut the shoot along the breaks .

Formation of cutting roots.

Next, take care of the formation of roots:

  • Cut off the top of the plastic bottle, pour rain or melt water into it, add 3-4 activated charcoal tablets, put on the windowsill. Water should be at a level of 10 cm from the bottom of the bottle.
  • Place twigs in it.
  • After 3 weeks, look: the branches should grow a callus, and then roots.
  • When the roots grow to 7 cm, then transplant the seedlings to a permanent place.
  • Shade them, do not forget to water them regularly.

Usually more than 70% of seedlings take root in this way.

Useful Videos

Watch a video on how to harvest cuttings in late autumn:

Watch a video on how to harvest cuttings in autumn:

How to dig up an apple branch for rooting?

Apple trees that give a tasty and rich harvest , I would like to have more, and then a completely fair question arises: is it possible to root an apple tree branch?
The answer is, of course, but it is important to follow certain rules of care.

Important! On a branch that is buried in the soil and constantly watered, but not separated from the mother tree, roots grow by the end of August. This branch is called a branch.

A cutting is a long branch placed in the ground . Remember that it cannot be cut off from the apple tree, as it will receive nutrition from the mother tree. Cut it off only after receiving a branch with roots.

This propagation method can be used on a young tree. The tree itself is initially planted at an angle in order to then dig in the shoots. A few years after receiving layering, the apple tree is transplanted horizontally.

This method is excellent for dry areas. If you have a plot in such an area, then try to bury 2 branches on both sides. Take care of them by watering them and adding soil if necessary.

Usually these 2 shoots also become roots after 3 years. Dig them up, cut them off and plant them elsewhere.

Watch the video on how to take root cuttings:

But some growers do not separate cuttings. And as a result, they grow a tree that has a strong root system that saves it from drought.

Rooting apple cuttings in water

It is best to cut the branches in late February - early March, before the start of the growing season.

Important! The cut shoot should not have buds that open, and they should have 3 dormant buds, so that the twig then spends all its strength on the formation of roots.

Cut twigs can be placed in solutions of rooting or heteroauxin for rooting.

You can also use traditional methods :

  1. Pour one and a half liters of water into a container, pour 1 teaspoon of honey . Dip the branches into the solution at 1/3 of the height, leave for 12 hours.
  2. Take a larger potato, cut out its eyes, cut a hole, insert a twig. If potatoes are constantly watered, then the roots of the apple tree quickly grow roots, as they receive not only water, but also the nutrients they need from potatoes.

    Sprouting roots in potatoes.

  3. Place the water container with the cuttings in it on the strong magnet . On a magnet, callus grows much faster. In ordinary branches, callus appears after 2 weeks, with a magnet it appears after 5 days.
  4. Put 3-7 drops of freshly squeezed aloe juice into a bottle of water , then the roots will appear much earlier.
  5. Cut 1-3 branches of willow or several branches of poplar, willow, rosemary , place them in a container of water, place an aspirin tablet in 20 ml of water. When the roots appear on these branches, then take them out, and place the shoots of the apple tree in the water. Don't change the water, just top it up.
  6. Cut twigs that are 1-2 years old. Cut them so that the branches are 3-5 cm long. Place the branches in a saucepan and pour water so that they are covered by 3-4 cm. Let the saucepan stand on the fire for half an hour. Then remove from heat and leave for 8 hours. Next, strain the solution through a four-layer gauze. This solution of can be stored for about a month in the refrigerator. Apple tree shoots are placed in the infusion for 4 days to accelerate the appearance of roots.
  7. Stick a branch from an apple tree to aloe leaf .
  8. Pour 1 liter of water into a container, place 1 tablet succinic acid . Cut shoots are placed in this solution for half an hour.
  9. Dissolve 100 g of yeast in 1 liter of water . Put the branches in a yeast solution for a day. Then rinse them with water and place them in a container of water. Add a few pieces of charcoal to it.

When rooting cuttings in water:

  • Do not change the water , but only add it. Water at room temperature is best.
  • Do not put a large number of cuttings in one vessel.
  • If you harvested the branches in the fall and start sprouting them late in the winter or spring, then place them in water, leave for a while, and then cut off the dry part and then put them back in the water.
  • Add some substances to the water to help develop roots.
  • If you cut cuttings in the winter, then such cuttings must be kept in a vessel with water in the dark. If you put a stalk with leaves in a vessel with water, then good lighting is necessary for germination.

Rooting apple cuttings in the ground

Cut the cuttings, put them in water.

First method:

  1. Keep them in the cellar until May.
  2. In May, the cuttings are planted, covered with a transparent plastic bottle.
  3. Constantly watered.
  4. When the leaves grow, they are cut off.
  5. As a rule, after a month, the cuttings have roots.

The second method is the immediate planting of cuttings in a wooden box in light and nutritious soil:

  1. The box is placed in a room with a temperature of +10...12°C. Since at this temperature the roots are warm, and the branches themselves are relatively cold, the roots grow quickly.
  2. Do not forget to water cuttings .
  3. In the fall, you can transplant the cuttings into the garden and cover them with lutrasil for the winter.

Conclusion and useful tips

  • Choose for rooting only annual cuttings and twigs , they have a greenish color.
  • If you put cuttings in water, then do not change it, but simply add it.
  • You can use to accelerate the germination of top dressing roots: root, heteroauxin, potatoes, aloe leaves, honey, magnet, cuttings of willow, poplar, willow, wild rosemary.
  • If you plant the cuttings directly in boxes with nutrient soil, remember that the air temperature should be +10...12°C.
  • Don't forget to water them regularly.

How to root an apple branch, is it possible at home, a branch and a cutting

Before using the rooting of future trees, it is necessary to carefully examine the planting material. Experienced gardeners recommend taking twigs from an apple tree that is at least 1 year old. The cuttings are then cut into pieces of 20 cm, leaving at least 3 buds on each. Also important is the color of the shoots. For rooting, fresh specimens of a pure green shade with a white-green cut are suitable. A yellow-brown cut indicates the old cuttings, so this one is not suitable for reproduction. 9Ol000 2 ways are widespread: in water and in the earth. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but in any case, you should listen to the advice of professionals and follow a certain algorithm of actions. This article will tell you about growing apple trees from seeds.

In water

In order for the seedling to take root in water, it is cut at the end of winter - beginning of spring, before the apple tree awakens.

Leave 3 buds on the handle, but all of them must be dormant. Thus, at the beginning of the vegetative period, the branch will use all its strength to create a root system. One of the popular types of rooting with water is to place the cutting in a solution with a substance that accelerates root growth. These include heteroauxin, root.

There are a number of folk methods available for simplicity and quite effective, if you rely on reviews on Internet resources.

  1. 10-15 g of honey is diluted with one and a half liters of water, the branch is lowered into the solution so that 2/3 of it is above the surface. After 12 hours of feeding, the stalk is removed and inserted into a pre-prepared hole in half of a raw potato.
  2. Water the potatoes regularly, cutting out the eyes that appear. The seedling receives all the necessary substances from the root crop and moisture, thereby accelerating the process of root formation.
  3. The second method is related to the effect of a magnetic field on living organisms. Farmers advise to speed up the growth process by placing a container with cuttings on a power magnet. It is noted that the appearance of roots under such conditions is faster by 2-2.5 weeks of the standard vegetative period. That is, after 5 days, the first root embryos will appear on the cutting.
  4. Gardeners add aloe juices, wild rosemary and willow extracts to solutions. You can also add an aspirin tablet to the water to make it easier for the branches to adapt. Sometimes the stalk is stuck directly into an aloe leaf, known for its medicinal properties.
  5. Another popular method is a decoction of young shoots. Branches cut into pieces up to 5 cm, pour water and boil for 30 minutes. The container is removed from the fire and left in a dark place until completely cooled. After 8 hours, the liquid is filtered and stored in the refrigerator, but not more than 1 month. Namely, cuttings are initially placed in this solution, the process of root appearance is accelerated by 4-6 days.

Folk methods - methods not scientifically proven. Therefore, we advise you to try growing cuttings in different ways, so you can choose the most convenient and effective for yourself.

There is also evidence that for the process of rapid adaptation and stimulation of the root system, yeast is used, in the proportion of 100 g per 1 liter of liquid.

The stalk is kept in it for about 24 hours, then it is placed in clean water and a few pieces of coal are added there.

In the ground

The root formation process with the method of placing in the ground is longer and takes not 1-2 weeks, but more than a month. Before using the germination of seedlings in the ground, the branches are in any case placed for 12-18 hours in water. This is necessary to stimulate the root system.

At the beginning of May, the seedlings are placed in their permanent place of growth, in the ground and covered with a transparent plastic bottle. During the month, the bottle is not removed, and the seedling is regularly watered and the soil around is loosened. Closely monitor the swelling of the kidneys and the appearance of foliage at this time. The first leaves are cut off to give good nutrition to the roots. Read about grafting apple trees in spring for beginners here.

In the second method, the cuttings are stuck directly into a container with soil, which is pre-impregnated with organic fertilizers. The box is placed in a warm heated room, with a temperature range not lower than +10-+12°С, but not higher than +15°С. In this way, the roots receive warmth and nourishment, while the tip is kept cold, which slows down the growth and development of the leaves.

Learn how to graft an apple tree onto a wild game here.

In all methods, regular watering and high illumination of seedlings are important. Water is taken at room temperature so as not to burn the root system.

Seedlings that have grown stronger are transplanted into the garden in September-October, while covering them with spunbond for the cold period.

What is digging an apple tree and how to get a seedling

A seedling is chosen carefully, from a healthy and prolific apple tree. To do this, you can make a spring pruning of an old apple tree and choose your favorite branch, at least 1-2 years old, and dig it next to the mother tree. This is done in early spring, when the vegetative period has not yet begun and the tree is less vulnerable.

The branch is watered regularly with water and root solution, preventing the soil from drying out. With proper care, roots will appear on the seedlings in mid-August. This method is called digging, and the branch is called layering. You can learn about grafting an apple tree into a split from this material.

Under no circumstances should cuttings be cut off from the apple tree, the separation occurs only after the branch has taken root.

If you plan to propagate using this method, then the mother tree should initially be planted at an angle, thus it will be easier to dig in the shoots later. After cuttings are obtained, you can transplant the apple tree vertically or leave it as it is, making an ornamental garden. In arid regions, 2 branches are added dropwise on both sides. This link will tell you how to transplant an apple tree in the spring to a new place.

After 1-2 years, the root system is resistant to various changes and the trees are detached from the main one and transplanted to another place.


This video will tell you how to root an apple branch.


It is quite easy to root an apple tree branch and get new seedlings if you follow a few simple rules.

  1. It is necessary to store cuttings for grafting and rooting only from a healthy and strong apple tree, 1-2 years old.

    Learn more