How to root a tree

Rooting Softwood And Hardwood Cuttings

General Tree Care

By: Heather Rhoades

Image by Lex20

Many people say that shrubs, bushes and trees are the backbone of garden design. Many times, these plants provide structure and architecture around which the rest of the garden is created. Unfortunately, shrubs, bushes and trees tend to be the most expensive plants to purchase for your garden.

However, there is one way to save money on these higher ticket items. This is to start your own from cuttings.

There are two types of cuttings to start shrubs, bushes and trees — hardwood cuttings and softwood cuttings. These phrases refer to the state the wood of the plant is in. New growth that is still pliable and has not yet developed a bark exterior is called softwood. Older growth, which has developed a bark exterior, is called hardwood.

How to Root Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings are typically taken in early spring or early winter when the plant is not actively growing. But, in a pinch, hardwood cuttings can be taken anytime of the year. The point of taking hardwood cuttings in non-growth periods is more to do with doing as little harm to the parent plant as possible.

Hardwood cuttings are also only taken from deciduous shrubs, bushes and trees that lose their leaves every year. This method will not work with evergreen plants.

  1. Cut off a hardwood cutting that is 12 to 48 (30-122 cm.) inches long.
  2. Trim the end of the cutting to be planted just below where a leafbud grows on the branch.
  3. Cut off the top of the branch so that there are at least two additional leafbuds above the bottom leafbud. Also, make sure that the area left is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) long. Additional buds can be left on the branch if necessary to make sure the branch is 6 inches (15 cm.).
  4. Strip the bottom-most leafbuds and the topmost layer of bark 2 inches (5 cm.)  above this. Do not cut too deeply into the branch. You only need to take off the top layer and you don’t need to be thorough about it.
  5. Place the stripped area in rooting hormone, then put the stripped end into a small pot of damp soilless mix.
  6. Wrap the whole pot and cutting in a plastic bag. Tie off the top but make sure the plastic is not touching the cutting at all.
  7. Place the pot in a warm spot that gets indirect light. Do not put in full sunlight.
  8. Check the plant every two weeks or so to see if roots have developed.
  9. Once roots have developed, remove the plastic covering. The plant will be ready to grow outdoors when the weather is suitable.

How to Root Softwood Cuttings

Softwood cuttings are normally taken when the plant is in active growth, which is normally in the spring. This will be the only time you will be able to find softwood on a shrub, bush or tree. This method can be used with all types of shrubs, bushes and trees.

  1. Cut a piece of softwood off the plant that is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) long, but no longer than 12 inches (30 cm. ). Make sure that there is at least three leaves on the cutting.
  2. Remove any flowers or fruit on the cutting.
  3. Trim the stem to just below where the bottom most leaf meets the stem.
  4. On each of the leaves on the stem, cut off half of the leaf.
  5. Dip the end of the cutting to be rooted in rooting hormone
  6. Put the end to be rooted into a small pot of damp soiless mix.
  7. Wrap the whole pot and cutting in a plastic bag. Tie off the top but make sure the plastic is not touching the cutting at all.
  8. Place the pot in a warm spot that gets indirect light. Do not put in full sunlight.
  9. Check the plant every two weeks or so to see if roots have developed.
  10. Once roots have developed, remove the plastic covering. The plant will be ready to grow outdoors when the weather is suitable.

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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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how to breed more plants by cuttings

Why is this method so popular? And because the offspring during cuttings will be an exact copy of the parent, will quickly take root in a new place and will please with endurance in harsh conditions. And most importantly, you will receive a new planting material for free.

Types of cuttings

Cuttings are different. Which option to choose depends on the type of plant.

Green cuttings

In most cases, lignified cuttings are used for propagation, but some plants prefer to propagate by young green shoots.

Suitable for: barberry, weigela, hydrangea, deren, viburnum, vesicle, lilac, chaenomeles, mock orange.

How to root. Actively growing young lateral shoots are cut with a sharp knife into segments with 2 to 3 internodes. The lower cut should be oblique at a distance of 0.5 - 1 cm from the kidney. The top cut is straight. It is even more reliable not to cut the cuttings, but to tear them off with the "heel" - the part of the stem from which they depart. Cut off the lower leaves.

Then the cuttings are treated with a root formation stimulator - Kornevin or Heterauxin (1): either the lower part of the shoot is powdered with powder, or the drug is diluted in water and the cuttings are placed there for 6 hours. Then they are planted in a garden or pot to a depth of 2 cm. 3–5 cm of coarse sand must be poured over the ground: it protects the cuttings from decay.

Stem cuttings

This variant is suitable for herbaceous perennials, which use cuttings for propagation. They are cut until mid-summer.

Suitable for: aquilegia, astilbe, cornflower, gelenium, delphinium, sedum, phlox paniculata.


How to root. The stems are cut into pieces with two internodes. They are dusted with any root formation stimulant and planted in the ground - preferably in a greenhouse. Such cuttings will take root quickly - if, for example, at the end of June you plant cuttings of panicled phlox, then in August you will get young plants with roots - they can already be transplanted into a flower garden.

Semi-lignified cuttings

These are shoots that have begun to bark on the bottom, but the top is still green.

Suitable for: hydrangeas, rhododendrons.

How to root. At the end of June, the tops of semi-lignified shoots of the current year are cut off and cut into cuttings with two internodes. Cut off the lower leaves. Longitudinal incisions 1–2 cm long are made on the bark. The cuttings are powdered with a root formation stimulator and planted in pots in a mixture of peat and sand in equal amounts. After 2 - 3 months roots are formed, and young plants can be transplanted into open ground.

General rules for cuttings

Each type of cuttings has its own characteristics, but there are also general rules that must also be taken into account.

Cut in the morning or on cloudy days. At this time, there is more juice in the cuttings - such ones take root better.

Cover with bottle. No matter where the cuttings are planted - in pots or directly in the garden - they need to arrange a mini-greenhouse. The easiest way is to cover them with a plastic 5-liter bottle without a bottom, or put them in a large jar with a lid (2). Such a shelter will help maintain high humidity around the cutting.

In a few weeks young shoots will emerge from the buds. At the end of summer, they begin to gradually open the bottle so that the seedlings get used to the fresh air, and then the shelter is completely removed.

Spray. One shelter with a bottle is not enough, because it is very hot in summer. Cuttings should be sprayed regularly with warm water. Ideally, daily. It is possible once a week (many people come to the country house for the weekend), but in this case, the soil around the cuttings should be constantly moist. So water them properly.

Protect from the sun. During rooting cuttings should be in partial shade.

Insulate in winter. Rooted cuttings are left to winter where they were planted. And so that they do not freeze, in late October - early November, the soil around them is covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves or covered with several layers of non-woven fabric.

In the spring or autumn of the following year, young plants are transplanted to a permanent place.

Popular questions and answers

Typical questions of gardeners about plant cuttings we asked agronomist-breeder Svetlana Mikhailova.

Which fruit crops can be propagated by cuttings?

Many varieties of cherries, almost all varieties of cherry plums and some plums propagate well with green cuttings. But cherries and apricots do not give roots on cuttings.

Can apple trees be propagated by cuttings?

In the vast majority of apple varieties, cuttings do not take root. But there are pleasant exceptions. The roots on the cuttings form: Altai ruddy, Gornoaltayskoye, Zhebrovskoye, Zhigulevskoye, Kuznetsovskoye, Moscow red, Pepin saffron, Gift for gardeners, Ranetka purple, Ural bulk, Flashlight.

Is it possible to propagate pear cuttings?

Pears, like apple trees, in most cases cannot be propagated by cuttings. But this culture also has varieties that give roots: Lada, Moskvichka, Smart Efimova, Autumn Yakovleva, Memory Zhegalova.


  1. State catalog of pesticides and agrochemicals permitted for use on the territory of the Russian Federation as of July 6, 2021 // Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation https://mcx. departament-rastenievodstva-mekhanizatsii-khimizatsii-i-zashchity-rasteniy/industry-information/info-gosudarstvennaya-usluga-po-gosudarstvennoy-registratsii-pestitsidov-i-agrokhimikatov/
  2. Kudryavets D.B., Petrenko N.A. How to grow flowers // M .: Education, 1993 - 176 p.

Summer cuttings of trees and shrubs - myths and real experience. General principles, mistakes. Photo - Botanichka

As a child, I was delighted with a fairy tale where the main character cleverly hid from the chase - he stuck branches from a bush into the ground, and a dense impenetrable green forest immediately grew behind him. I have been experimenting with twigs since I was four years old (and still do). So, summer cuttings are a great opportunity to get a young seedling of the desired variety. The procedure is simple, fast and almost always it is possible even for beginners. Unsuccessful cuttings are associated with an obvious neglect of its basic principles. More on this later.

Summer cuttings of trees and shrubs - myths and real experience

General principles of summer cuttings

1. There is a time for everything

The cutting needs time to "ripen" before cuttings. After cuttings, the twig needs time to take root, adapt and prepare for winter.

MYTH 1: It is best to take young green branches for cuttings.

How do you know if a cutting can be cut and rooted? Just. He is still young, but already has a hard bark. It can be matured shoots of this year or last year. It is necessary to start grafting when the sap flow has already been completed, and berry bushes are grafted after the fruit appears. Ornamental shrubs are ready for cuttings one to two weeks after flowering.

The easiest way to determine if a rose is ready for cuttings: if the thorn breaks off easily when pressed to the side, feel free to cut the cuttings!

Although the terms are conditional, and for each type of plant they are selected individually. For example, I cut gooseberries from mid-June to early August. I can also propagate currants before flowering in June with last year's shoots. Coniferous - before the third decade of June, it is already necessary to cut. Hazel, lilac and hydrangea will be ready to give good cuttings at the end of June. If you plant them in August, then the new plants will not have time to get stronger for the winter and will not endure it in the open field.

If the rose thorn breaks off easily when pressed to the side, feel free to cut the cuttings! © Ekaterina Danilova

2. The right environment is necessary for the formation of roots

In water, the cuttings of most bushes and trees give roots reluctantly, they rot.

MYTH 2: cuttings need nutrient soil, humus, fertilizer.

Never plant cuttings in fertilized and rich in organic matter. Such a trick will take place only in the south, there - wherever you stick a stick, it will sprout anyway.

In the open field or at home, cuttings take root in light and poor soil.

Based on my experience, high-moor peat with sand in a ratio of 1:1 works best. Sand can be replaced with perlite or vermiculite. Conifers, such as juniper, take root well in sphagnum (this is moss).

3. Preparing the cutting

Oblique cuts, straight cuts, above the kidney, below the kidney, cut with a knife, cut only with secateurs - what you can not read from advisers on the Internet.

MYTH 3: the cutting must be cut obliquely at the bottom and horizontally at the top.

I'll tell you a secret: the difference in which cut and where is not so significant. What matters is that there should be a few buds on top that are potentially ready to sprout, and enough space on the bottom for roots to form, but not too much so that the excess does not rot.

The optimal length of the cutting is from 5 cm to 10 cm. We dig it into the ground by 1. 5-3 cm, depending on the thickness of the twig (the thicker, the deeper).

MYTH 4: cuttings must be stuck into the ground at an angle.

My practice shows that there is no difference: the stalk is stuck into the ground obliquely or evenly. Perhaps this matters with large volumes of plantings and a limited area, when it is better for plants to grow closely from an inclined cutting. My amateur landings are not crowded.

I almost always cut the leaves. A piece of petiole or even a petiole with part of a leaf can be left at a rose, currant, lilac, mock orange and other bushes. They make it easier to track how rooting occurs, and the process of photosynthesis for a plant is important.

Tip! Before cutting the cuttings, the mother bush (or tree) must be well watered in advance, but it is not necessary to feed.

Cuttings can be stored for a very long time in a damp cloth in a cool place: a couple of weeks, even months.

On the lower part of the cutting, where the roots are planned, it is advisable to make a couple of scratches on the bark. If the bark is too thick, you can even cut off a small strip of a few millimeters around the entire circumference. I always cover thick cuttings on top with wax so that they do not dry out too much.

MYTH 5: Cutting pruners should be cleaned with alcohol.

Alcohol for cuttings is completely unnecessary. A tool that makes an even cut (secateurs or a knife - it doesn’t matter) should be washed with soap and rinsed in a strong solution of potassium permanganate before work. In general, my experience shows that holding the cuttings themselves in potassium permanganate for a couple of minutes is not a sin. This is especially true for gooseberry, currant and rose branches.

On the lower part of the cutting, where the roots are planned, it is advisable to make a couple of scratches on the bark. © Ekaterina Danilova


Cuttings need greenhouse conditions

You can object, they say, there was a case, without any shelter, a cutting was taken and grew perfectly. Agree. It happens.

Attention! Willow, hazel, lilac, mock orange, and acacia take root wonderfully without any hotbeds in the middle lane.

Most plants need a greenhouse, a shelter that protects from temperature fluctuations and moisture loss in the soil, protecting from the scorching sun.

It is very convenient to cover the stem with a cut plastic bottle. Just make sure that he has enough space there, and he does not touch the walls.

For a large number of cuttings, a mini-greenhouse is made on arcs, close enough to the ground (30-40 cm) with a film. You can make a box for cuttings and cover it with glass.

We ventilate the mini-greenhouse in good weather by slightly lifting the edges of the film or glass. It will be possible to remove the film only when the cuttings take root and confidently start growing. We gradually accustom them during the day to the sun, and at night to a cold snap.

Conifer cuttings in the open field will be grateful if you first cover them with damp white paper bags and only then stretch the film or cover with glass.

The soil must always be moderately moist during rooting.

It is very convenient to cover the stem with a cut plastic bottle. © Ekaterina Danilova

5. Rooting stimulants are not required

All living things want to live!

MYTH 6: cuttings will not be accepted without root stimulator.

The natural stimulus for the formation of roots is already the fact that the branch is separated from the mother bush and placed in the soil. Therefore, roots are formed even without external stimulation.

As for "Kornevin", "Heteroauxin" and similar preparations, I will say: the thing is good, if not overdo it. With stimulants, the percentage of plants that have taken root is, of course, higher.

The results of cuttings can only be assessed after a couple of weeks. In some cases, you will have to wait a month or even a month and a half until shoots appear on the new plant - a symbol of success.

In short, these are all the basic principles of summer cuttings.

This is how fruit and ornamental shrubs, including roses, reproduce.

Attention! The cuttings of some trees and coniferous plants in the summer have specifics.

Gooseberry three weeks after cuttings. © Ekaterina Danilova

Specifics of summer cuttings of some trees and conifers

Some trees and conifers are more difficult to cut than bushes.

Due to my inexperience, I tried several times to "plant" branches of apple and pear trees, taken from a chic neighbor's garden. Alas and ah ... they do not take root. These trees can be propagated by layering. Branches are rooted without cutting them off from the parent tree. Only after the roots appear, the cutting can be separated.

Trees and conifers are cut from cuttings as soon as active sap flow has ended (end of May-first half of June). The stalk is cut off green on top and already having a bark on the bottom. The growth point (the very top of the cutting) is cut off.

In order for cuttings to develop roots actively, the tip of a coniferous cutting needs to be slightly split, because the resin clogs the cut, preventing any interaction with the environment.

MYTH 7: cuttings of coniferous plants should be done only in winter.

It is possible that coniferous plants are cut in nurseries all year round. The material would be suitable. But I believe that only young branches are suitable for cuttings, such as we have in the middle lane only in May-June.

Cuttings of juniper "in the snail"

Of all my experiments with conifers, the most successful is cuttings of juniper "in the snail". I'll tell you if you're not in a hurry.

Preparation took half an hour:

  • I cut off a strip of 15 cm from the substrate for the laminate (such a thin porous polyethylene film).
  • I spread moss on this strip (the roots of seedlings are often wrapped with this moss during shipment).
  • On May 25, having cut young twigs from a neighbor's chic twenty-year-old juniper, I laid them with stems on a prepared base and turned into a snail.
  • Before laying the base of the branches, I slightly split (about 5-7 mm). 2-3 cm from each cutting got into the moss, the rest was located on top. Growth points, of course, I pinched off, cut off part of the needles. 9009eight
  • I put a folded snail, which could easily fit in my hand, for a while into a glass with a warm solution of potassium permanganate.
  • I placed the whole structure in a transparent bag, which I tied on top.
  • I made a few holes in the top of the bag for ventilation.

In the future, it was necessary to rinse the glass every two or three days, pour fresh water into it.

On June 23, the cuttings showed fresh green, barely visible shoots. I started a gentle airing. I added Kornevin to the glass.

On July 25, I already completely removed the package.

Unwound the snail on August 15th. The roots were pretty decent, the longest - 5-7 centimeters.

The plants were transplanted into the open ground on August 16th.

Spudded for the winter, sheltered under a dry air shelter.

Total: cut 15 cuttings. They gave roots to 11. After transplanting in the open field, 8 began. Overwintered and survived 4 plants. I think this is a good result for a beginner amateur.

Cuttings of conifers "in the snail". © Lomakina Tatyana

Causes of unsuccessful cuttings of plants in summer

Even if you did everything right, in your opinion, but the result is not pleasing - do not be upset. As the classic said, experience is the son of difficult mistakes.

Analyzing my own and other people's experience, I can single out the following possible mistakes in summer cuttings of trees and shrubs.

1. Cutting what cannot be propagated by cuttings

Before experimenting, find out at least fundamentally: do these plants grow from cuttings? Do not even try to propagate cherry, apricot, spruce, larch or fir cuttings. They don't breed like that.

2. We are in a hurry, or we are late

It is very difficult at first to choose the time for grafting, the moment of removing the shelter and transplanting to a permanent place. Check with someone knowledgeable if you're not sure. And if you are sure - also listen to what the “experienced” will say. You will then know how competent they are.

3. We take cuttings that are not right and wrong

One so desires to take a cutting that is strong, straight, striving upwards, the one that is thicker and stronger than all its brothers. Do not take! Such cuttings take root with difficulty. The branch that grew sideways, leaned towards the ground, and was shaded by neighboring branches, will take root faster. Nature itself intended it for the cutting!

I also noticed that if the plant is well-groomed, it has been heavily overfed with manure, it has many new shoots, it grows in a sunny place and feels great - the cuttings from it take root poorly, many rot.

If you decide to bring a grape stem from Moldova and plant it in the Leningrad region…. Well, it is quite possible to root it in greenhouse conditions or at home, but this seedling is not destined to grow and bear fruit in the open field. Take cuttings from plants in your region - the likelihood of success will increase significantly.

When cutting, the branch that grew sideways, leaned towards the ground, and became shaded, will take root faster. © Ekaterina Danilova

4. Forget about care

Like small children, cuttings need daily care: airing, watering, if necessary - treatment from diseases and pests.

Many times it happened to me: I started to actively engage in cuttings. Then they started to grow, I was delighted, relaxed, and the cuttings die from excessive heat in the greenhouse or from a night draft under the film, from insufficient watering or excessive waterlogging as a result of a July downpour.

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