November 15, 2021

Propagating Fruit Trees

My winter project this year is working on my first food forest garden. Fall and winter are the best times here for planting trees and shrubs, so I'm working toward having a variety of things to plant. And not just in my designated food forest. I'm looking to plant food producing species in our woods as well. 

There are several ways to obtain these. One is to buy them. Another is to raise them from seeds, and I'll have more about that in a future blog post. Still another way, is to propagate them from cuttings. I recently found a video on how to do this and gave it a try with cuttings from one of my pear trees.

Lengths of branches are cut and stripped of existing leaves.

Live sticks are placed in a sealed jar with an inch of water.

The jar is stored in a dark place until sticks begin to grow nubs.


These are then planted in pots.

Once they develop a good root system,
they can be transplanted into the ground.

Probably the best time to do this will be spring, since everything is going dormant now. But at least I know it works. I tried it with redbud branches, but they never sprouted, so this may be best for fruit trees. Starting with larger sticks would be better, because the plantings would be larger.

I can see this as being an ongoing project and good way to plant more food producing trees. And all for free! It doesn't get any better than that. 

Propagating Fruit Trees © November 2021


Susan said...

This is good news! I'd love to have more fruit trees, but they are very expensive. We're past the safe planting time, but I am going to bookmark this post for next year.

Leigh said...

Susan, yes, fruit trees from commercial nurseries are very expensive! I've been researching more economical options and will put them all in an upcoming blog post. This one is the best way if you have access to existing fruit trees. And one can never have too many fruit trees!

Ed said...

Redbuds, the bane of my propagation existence! I have tried a half dozen times using various methods to get redbud seeds to grow. I have been unsuccessful every time. I have one tree down at the bottom of my hill and a half dozen saplings that grow nearby and I would like to propagate them and scatter them throughout my property. I need to gather more seeds and try again.

Leigh said...

Ed, I haven't tried redbuds from seeds yet because the seeds I collected seemed to be very small, compared to photos online. So far, I've transplanted two seedlings that I found, and they are doing well. I found a cheap source at my state's forestry service website. It came to $5 per tree including shipping. If redbuds are common in your state, maybe that would be an option.

Charlotte Boord said...

How long was it from when you first placed the twigs in the jar and when you planted them into the pots? I imagine by springtime your pear sprouts will be more than ready to be transplanted.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I have done a little bit of cutting growing (long ago), but this is a entirely new method to me. Thanks for sharing!

Cederq said...

Leigh, Why strip the leaves off of the twig? Does it promote root growth and new limb development? Could you use a growth supplement in the water? Have you tried grafting twigs from other fruit trees to a stout, well established tree donor?

Leigh said...

Charlotte, good to hear from you! I think it took about a week for the nubs to start to appear. Everything here is losing its leaves now, but I'm guessing the survivors will put out a growth spurt next spring. At least I hope so!

TB, it sounds like there are similar methods to explore. I'll have to learn about these too!

Kevin, well, there are no roots to take up nutrients to support the leaves.The twig is still alive, and this method seems to force it to put out the nubs to continue living.

No, I've never tried grafting. But it does seem like a logical next step, doesn't it?

Ed said...

Yes the seeds are very tiny. I've read a variety of sources where you are supposed to scarify them first with sand paper, soak in warm water, put in freezer for a length of time, etc., all of which I have tried along with various combinations.

I've heard that one can transplant them if they are small enough but the two I tried didn't survive and I was loath to kill any more for an experiment. My problems is my source, it is very brushy and I can't identify them until they are probably bigger than they should be for such endeavors.

I have thought about buying them but with the huge deer population in the area, I would feel like I would have to protect them. I would like to get a huge stand of them (100's) at the edge or our property among the other trees.

All this talk though has awoken a desire to try again so I might go down there later today and get some more seeds. This time I'm just going to put them in a bag and freeze them and try planting them in the spring and see what happens.

Leigh said...

Ed, if you have a source of seeds, it's worth the time and effort to experiment. I, for one, will be interested in what you figure out!

Rosalea said...

I have tried three times to propagate High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) shrubs, but so far have been unsuccessful. I'd love to have a row of them along the pond as food for the birds. Perhaps I'll try again using your method. Good information as always. Thanks, Leigh.

Leigh said...

Rosalea, please let us know how it goes!

Debby Riddle said...

So helpful. We lost our pear tree to the fire. It has root- spouted. I'm hoping I can graft onto it.