I'm trying to propagate some deciduous trees from cuttings I've taken. I have 3 different stems for each of 2 trees I've collected from (one being a red maple, the other being a mulberry). Both will loose their leafs soon, and the red maple's leafs have already turned colors. I'm in zone 5a and these cuttings were taken in the past week or so, after the first couple of frosts (nights below 32dF) but with the weather coming back to warmer autumn temperatures.

Right now I just have these cuttings sitting in cups of water as I prepare some rooting hormone from weeping willow stems, then I planned to plant the maple and mulberry stems in small pots with potting soil and water them once with the rooting hormone, then with regular water.

Do I need to do anything in particular to keep these tree cuttings growing healthy, given that they'd naturally be losing their leafs around now? For example does that change whether I should keep them indoors/outdoors, give them more artificial light or let them be in the partial shade of an indoor spot during winter, wait before I plant them in pots at all (in which case would they sit in water, or just left dry over winter), etc.

  • My specific question is in bold. Any guidance is appreciated however as I'm just beginning to learn about tree propagation.
    – cr0
    Nov 7, 2016 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


Hardwood cuttings work best for mulberry; though you haven't said which variety of Acer you're trying to propagate,softwood cuttings are more likely to be successful,or from seed. Softwood cuttings are taken earlier in the year, around May or June in the northern hemisphere - more info on that here http://homeguides.sfgate.com/propagate-red-maples-23902.html

Hardwood cuttings are taken when the tree is dormant, during or after leaf fall; the wood you use should be about the thickness of a pencil, and quite woody, not soft and sappy, and about 10 inches long. Once prepared, its usual to insert them into a pre prepared trench outdoors if you have lots, or just insert in an area of soil previously dug over where cuttings can stay for up to a year without disturbance - inserted into deep pots in a cold frame, they may produce roots more quickly. However, even in a cold frame, in a cold winter, its possible the pots will freeze, which isn't desirable at all. Precise instructions can be found here https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/propagating-hardwood-cuttings/.

Going by your description of the cuttings you've already taken, it sounds like you need to start over with the mulberry cuttings, and wait till next year to take Acer cuttings. If you want to use rooting hormone for the hardwood cuttings, its best to have that available for use at the time you take the cutting, and the cutting should be prepared and inserted in the soil in as short a time as possible - rooting hormone powder is probably the most useful for this purpose, but its not absolutely essential to use it at all.

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