So, you’re interested in how to take apple tree cuttings? Well, you’re in the right place. Apple trees are not just about those juicy fruits and pretty blossoms; they’re also fun and educational to propagate. Whether you’re looking to spread the love of your favourite apple variety or just want more of these beauties in your garden, this guide’s got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of apple tree cuttings and get you on your way to growing some new trees!

Taking an Apple Tree Cutting
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What is an Apple Tree Cutting?

An apple tree cutting is a small section of branch cut from a mature apple tree, used to propagate a new tree. This method of propagation allows you to clone the parent tree, ensuring the new tree produces the same variety of apples. Cuttings should be taken from healthy, disease-free branches for the best chance of rooting and growth.

How to Take Apple Tree Cuttings?

Taking cuttings is a delicate process that requires attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

What You Need

  • Sharp, clean pruning shears
  • Rooting hormone powder or gel
  • A pot or container with well-draining soil
  • A plastic bag or plastic wrap
  • A label or marker

Step 1 – Selecting the Cutting

Choose a healthy branch from the apple tree, ideally one that is at least one-year-old and has several leaf nodes. The best time to take cuttings is in late winter or early spring, just before the bud break.

Step 2 – Preparing the Cutting

Using your pruning shears, cut a 6-8 inch section of the branch at a 45-degree angle. Ensure the cutting has at least 2-3 leaf nodes. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting to prevent moisture loss.

Step 3 – Storing the Cutting

Store the cutting in moist sawdust or vermiculite for 3-4 weeks in a cool place like a basement, cellar, or refrigerator. This chilling period helps to form a callous over the cut end.

Step 4 – Applying Rooting Hormone

Dip the calloused end of the cutting into rooting hormone powder or gel. This step encourages root growth and increases the chance of successful propagation.

Step 5 – Planting the Cutting

Plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil, burying the lower half of the cutting. Water it thoroughly, then cover the pot with a plastic bag or wrap to create a humid environment. Place the pot in a warm, bright area but out of direct sunlight.

Step 6 – Monitoring and Care

Check the cutting regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. In a few weeks, the cutting should start developing roots. Once you see new growth, gradually acclimate the plant to less humid conditions.

Large Apple Tree
Large Apple Tree

Is it Easy to Grow Apple Trees from Cuttings?

No, rooting and growing apple trees from cuttings is not easy and can be quite challenging. Apple trees are typically propagated through grafting onto hardier rootstocks rather than from cuttings. This is because the rootstocks of most popular apple varieties tend to be susceptible to disease, and grafting onto hardier rootstocks provides greater resilience and health for the tree. When it comes to rooting cuttings, the process can be unpredictable, and success rates can vary significantly.

How to Improve Apple Tree Cuttings Success Rate?

To aid in the success rate of rooting apple tree cuttings, consider these focused steps:

  • Select Healthy Branches: Choose cuttings from healthy, disease-free branches. Opt for one-year-old wood with several leaf nodes. Healthy cuttings have a higher chance of rooting successfully.
  • Use a Chilling Period: After taking the cuttings, store them in moist sawdust or vermiculite in a cool place like a refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. This chilling process helps form a callus over the cut end, crucial for successful rooting.
  • Apply Rooting Hormone: Once the callus forms, apply rooting hormone to the cut end. This hormone significantly increases the likelihood of successful root development.
  • Take Multiple Cuttings: Increase your chances of success by taking several cuttings. Not all cuttings will root, so having multiple attempts can improve your overall success rate. This also allows you to experiment with different conditions and techniques to see what works best for your specific environment and apple tree variety.


In wrapping up, remember that mastering how to take apple tree cuttings is a bit of an art form, with its own set of challenges. But don’t let that deter you. Just focus on picking the healthiest branches, giving them a good chill, using some rooting hormone, and don’t forget to take a few extra cuttings for good measure. Not every cutting will take root, and that’s okay. Each try teaches you something new and gets you closer to growing your very own apple trees from cuttings. So, keep at it, stay patient, and enjoy the process. After all, gardening is as much about the journey as it is about the results. Maybe you will have your own orchard or row of espaliers in a few years.

Garden Doctor Tips

“Choose a cloudy day for taking cuttings to reduce stress on the plant!”

“Label your cuttings with the variety and date to keep track of progress!”

“If possible, take multiple cuttings to increase the chance of success!”

“Maintain consistent moisture and temperature during the rooting process!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you root apple tree cuttings in water?

Yes, you can root apple tree cuttings in water, but results will vary. Rooting them in soil is generally more successful. The water method allows you to visually monitor root development, but it might not provide enough nutrients for optimal growth.

How long does it take for apple tree cuttings to root?

It usually takes several weeks to a few months for apple tree cuttings to root. The exact time can vary depending on the cutting’s health, environmental conditions, and care.

Do apple tree cuttings need sunlight while rooting?

Apple tree cuttings need indirect light but should be protected from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can be too harsh for delicate new roots and can dry out the soil too quickly.

Can you take cuttings from any apple tree?

Yes, you can take cuttings from any apple tree, but choose healthy, disease-free branches for the best results. Different varieties may have varying success rates, so some experimentation might be necessary.

How do you know if an apple tree cutting has rooted?

You’ll know a cutting has rooted when you see new growth, like leaves or shoots, and the cutting offers resistance when you give it a gentle tug. This indicates that roots have formed and are anchoring the cutting in the soil.

When is the best time to take apple tree cuttings?

The best time to take apple tree cuttings is in late winter or early spring, just before the bud break. This is when the tree is still dormant, and the cuttings are less likely to go into shock.

Do apple tree cuttings need a greenhouse environment?

Cuttings don’t necessarily need a greenhouse environment, but they do benefit from a humid atmosphere, like under a plastic cover, which simulates greenhouse conditions and helps prevent moisture loss.

Can I use homemade rooting hormone for my apple tree cuttings?

While you can use homemade rooting hormone, like honey or willow water, commercial rooting hormones are usually more effective and consistent in promoting root growth.

How deep should I plant the apple tree cutting?

Plant the cutting so that half of it, including a couple of leaf nodes, is buried in the soil. This depth ensures stability and provides enough space for root development.

How often should I water the apple tree cuttings?

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to rot, while under-watering can dry out the cutting. The frequency will depend on environmental factors like humidity and temperature.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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