Home > Cloning / Propogating, Fruit Trees > Try, Try, Try Again: Fruit Tree Cloning

Try, Try, Try Again: Fruit Tree Cloning

Sweet Cherry Cuttings

Sweet Cherry Cuttings

A few years ago, I learned how to clone grape vines. Ever since then, I’ve tried the same approach to clone other plants. I’ve managed to clone an Elderberry bush, a Lilac, countless Weeping Willows, even a tomato; but there is one category of plant I just can’t seem to clone: Fruit Trees. If I had the option, I would just give up cloning and resort to Grafting or starting plants from seed. Seeds are out of the question because the genetics of apples vary so widely that a seed from the best apple in the world will usually develop into a crab apple tree. Grafting would require that I have the proper root stock, something I haven’t found a way to order yet.

My only option left is to try, try, try every possible  method to clone these trees. It’s something of a winter obsession for me.

Pear and Apple Cuttings

Pear and Apple Cuttings

Red clips -> Pear;      Blue clips -> Apple. The side with the colored clips are treated with root growing solution.

In the winter of 2009, I tried to use Miracle Grow as my rooting medium, with good initial success. The cuttings grew new leaves, but no roots.  This year, I’m trying two rooting mediums, Sand and Garden Dirt. I’m also trying two planting styles, one with bare cuttings, and another with a solution that encourages roots to grow. I’ve moved my setup from my seedling room where the light was very bright in the morning, to my kitchen where the lighting is a constant shade. I’ve also used much less water in the base rooting medium, in an attempt to keep the cuttings from rotting.  I’ll only add water with my misting bottle.To top it all off, I’m applying a small amount of Anti-Fungal agent, something I apply to my trees during the summer months.

I’ve started very early this year, and I hope to try three different approaches by spring time. My newest concern is if I will have enough cuttings for further experiments, as I’ve pruned three trees already.

  1. December 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Do you know of any sources that say this should or might work, or are you blazing new trails in the area?

    • December 13, 2010 at 1:06 pm

      Every source I’ve found has said this will NOT work, but I’m rather stubborn. If I can clone a Weeping Willow Tree, why not a Apple ?

  2. December 14, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I’ve heard that sticking a fragment of willow in alongside your cuttings will encourage reluctant roots. Good luck! If you decide on grafting, I think Making More Plants by Ken Druse is excellent:


  3. matt
    February 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    try using CloneX gel
    cover the root in gel then place inside rock wool
    put the root with gel and rock wool inside a hydroponic device like an inexpensive aerogarden.
    the roots will pop through the rock wool after about 30-60 days.

    • February 14, 2011 at 12:19 am

      Thanks Matt, I’ll give that a try.

  4. Jante
    June 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I use crushed weeping willow leaves, soak in water a couple days. strain and use the water. So far it’s worked on everything i’ve tried. Even roses. Although i havent tried fruit trees. So, how’s progress?

  5. banana
    October 31, 2012 at 12:49 am

    if you cut a willow switch and stick it in the ground it will root itself within 10 days. it’s so easy that i’m thinking about cutting a lot of switches next spring, mix it with soil in a trough or something similar, flood it with water and stick cuttings of various plants i have to see which ones root themselves. if it’s kept moist it should be pretty successful. you could try something similar.

  6. January 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve heard of taking a willow branch and cutting it into small pieces and placing it in a pan on the stove. Then simmering it for an hour or two and after it cools using the resulting liquid as a liquid rooting hormone. Either water with it or place it as the medium in your cloning bucket.

  7. January 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    ^ with water.

  8. January 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Try wrapping cutting with a moist papertowel or newspaper and place into a ziplock.

  9. January 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    and yes if you dont have rooting compound try soaking willow tips in water then soaking cutting in there. add vitaman b1 too

  10. Matt Green
    June 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    So I think I am just connecting dots here but aspirin used to be made from the bark of willows. They use aspirin to make cut flowers last. Im going to try using aspirin in my water. Ill see if it works. Im trying lace leaf maples. Trees are the hardest thing I have tried yet. Everything else I have tried except trees is easy. Any advice or suggestion are welcome.

  11. January 26, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Try and take cuttings that are new and green with at least two buds on them that are not woody yet. I think this will help you!

  12. March 25, 2016 at 3:36 am

    Just a comment in regards to apple trees. I’ve eaten plenty of seed grown apples from the apple cores thrown out car windows over the years.and so far they’ve all been pretty nice and definitely not crab apples. Give seeds a chance! If nothing else you will grow plety of rootstock for grafting. 🙂
    Love the idea of cloning though. I think I read somewhre on the then that walnuts are supposed to take from grafts?

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