Tree Branch Growing: Tips On Planting Trees From Twigs

branch cutting
Image by XOques

By Teo Spengler

A great, inexpensive way to propagate your favorite trees is to try planting trees from twigs or cuttings. Growing trees from cuttings is fun and easy, as long as you follow a few simple steps. Read on for information on how to start roots on branch cuttings.

Tree Branch Growing

If you trim your trees every few years to make the backyard more orderly, you can use those clippings to plant new trees. To be successful when you are planting tree branches, you’ll need to get those branch cuttings to root.


When you are planting trees from twigs, you’ll end up with trees identical to the “parent” tree. This is not always the case when you plant seeds, since two trees were involved and you may be growing a hybrid.

On the other hand, if the tree you hope to duplicate is grafted, you don’t want to try tree branch growing as a mean of propagation. A tree is grafted when the crown is one species that has been grown into a rootstock from another species. Planting tree branches of grafted trees only duplicates the crown tree.

Some trees and shrubs – like forsythia, golden bells and plane trees – grow quickly and easily from cuttings. In fact, for certain species, planting tree branches has a greater chance of success than planting seeds.

How to Start Roots on Branch Cuttings

Some gardeners like to start rooting tree cuttings in water, while others prefer rooting them directly in sandy soil. In either case, you’ll do best to clip pieces of young branches, those under a year old, for growing trees.

To start planting trees from twigs, use a sharp, clean pruner or knife to clip off sections of tree branch around 6 to 10 inches long. Remove leaves and buds. Dip the cut end in hormone powder, available at garden stores.

You can either place the base end of the cuttings in a container with several inches of water, or else sink them into a pot with potting soil. If you have decided to start rooting tree cuttings in water, add water to the container as it evaporates. If you are growing in soil, keep the soil moist.

One way to keep the cuttings moist is to cover the container with a plastic bag. Cut a few slits in it first to let it breathe. Fasten the mouth of the bag around the container with a rubber band or string. Watch for roots to grow.

Once you have succeeded at rooting tree cuttings in water or soil, you can transplant the young plant to a larger pot or even to a prepared bed. It’s critical to keep the soil moist during the first growing season so that the new tree can develop a strong root system.

The best idea, when you are practicing tree branch growing, is to start many more cuttings than you think you will need. This makes it likely that you’ll get a few healthy new trees.

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