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  • Can I clone cuttings from tree stems?

    Created by Linda Pearl on

    I want to take stem cuttings from a crabapple tree in the neighborhood. It’s rumored the owner is meaning to chop it down. (It’s on the planting strip, so I can access the tree legally.) I intend to put the clippings in an Aerogarden hydroponic system. What kind of cloning gel or etc. would you recommend for this?

  • Author
  • #296998

    Eric Vinje

    Hi Linda –

    Propagation by stem cuttings is the most popular plant propagation method for woody shrubs, ornamental trees and plants. Here’s how it works:

    1.) Select a healthy stem cutting that is representative of the plant/ tree and absent of flower buds, disease and insects.

    2.) Take cuttings from the upper part of the plant and from the side. For some reason, cuttings taken from the middle of the plant do not root as well.

    3.) Select a stem that is four to six inches long and has at least two or three leaves attached. Leaves produce sugars from photosynthesis and hormones that promote rooting.

    4.) Using a razor blade or sharp pruning shears make a clean slice at a 45 degree angle to maximize the rooting area. Most cuttings root best if the slice is made just below a leaf node (where branches come out of the stem).

    5.) Remove flowers or buds from the cutting, as well as any lower leaves. Cut the remaining leaves in half to reduce moisture loss through transpiration. Also, less foliage will maximize the amount of energy the cutting can expend on developing roots as opposed to maintaining the leaves.

    6.) Quickly dip the bottom two inches of the stem cutting into a cloning gel or rooting hormone (we recommend Clonex®). This will help seal the cut plant tissue and promote new root growth. Note: Rooting solution is not always necessary but will greatly improve your success rate.

    7.) Place the cutting into a cloning collar (if using a hydroponic system) or small pot with moist vermiculite, perlite or other soilless potting mix. Be sure to poke a small hole in the growing medium before placing the cutting into it. This way the rooting gel won’t rub off of the stem.

    8.) Cover with a mayonnaise jar or put the whole container in a plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect and maintain high humidity levels.

    9.) Keep your new plants warm and in bright light, but out of direct sunlight, and provide bottom warmth with a heat mat at all times. Avoid overheating the cuttings.

    10.) Keep the growing media moist and wait until roots appear — this can take a few days or a few months. Replant in another container with moist, but not wet, potting soil.

    Hope it helps!

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