Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rooting fruit and nut tree cuttings

First time for everything! I finally decided to try and root some woody fruit and nut tree/shrub cuttings. So far I have a bunch of elderberry, Nanking cherry (for the birds, hoping they leave other fruits alone), filberts (hazelnuts) in potting medium under a plastic-wrap cover to increase humidity. I still have beach plum and both red and black currants to cut. According to my biodynamic planting calendar, the next optimal time is March 14-17, but they may be in full bud by then.

The hardest thing for me is remembering to keep the cuttings oriented in the direction they were growing when I cut and handle them. To plant them, I mixed up 1/3 sand with 2/3 organic potting mix, and dampened it well. I had put the cuttings immediately in a container of water, so all I had to do was cut segments below a node, re-wet the bottom, dip in rooting hormone, and stick in the pot.

The containers I'm using are half-size disposable steam table pans (aluminum) from Sam's Club (a package of 30 was $6.28). I poked drain holes in the bottom of a few, put some plastic spacers in the bottoms of some others without the drain holes, and put the medium-filled, drainable containers on top of the spacers. The pans are plenty deep for the cuttings, and the outer pan will catch any excess water.

Here's the progress so far:

Elderberry cuttings, dipped in hormone and placed in pot on Feb. 17, kept covered for a moist environment. I did have to take the lid off a time or two as something moldy-looking was growing on a couple of the tips.

Nanking Cherry and Hazelnut cuttings, started the same day as the elderberries. The hazelnuts don't show any signs of growth from the bud nodules yet, but the cherries flowered, and a few now even show tiny signs of leaf tips. Those white strips holding up the plastic "tent" are slats from a window blind.

It's too soon to disturb any of these cuttings to see if they are actually beginning to root, and frankly I'm a little nervous that they may not root! These trays are kept on the bookcase under my living room windows where they only get a half-day of light. I will post again when I know for sure if I passed, or failed the "rooting cuttings" test!


  1. i am doing the same thing. For some reason it is super hard to come across the sand cherries or nankings here in western nc... Finally found some crappy looking ones at tractor supply :)

    I have gotten crepe myrtles to root from cuttings as well as an elberta peach.
    would love to know how long it takes ur nankings to root.

    nice to meet a fellow plant/garden lover! I want to plant my little garden seedlings now with this nice mild weather!

    1. I'm from WNC, sure wish I was back there!

      My Nanking cuttings aren't putting out any roots yet, but it's still early. The elderberries are almost ready to transplant, though.


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