cloning a tree

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Dec 12, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to pull some information out of my old, rusty brain ....

    It is possible to make a new tree by clipping a bit of a twig from an existing tree and sticking that in some soil you keep moist .... right? This would effectively clone the tree, right?

    Is there a word for this?
     
  2. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    I expect we have all heard tales about the willow fence posts that start to grow after being placed in the ground.

    That and what you suggest is vegetative propagation. Cloning would take tissues from the plant to form the plant. I really don't think taking massive amounts of tissues via vegetative propatation would be the same. It is my understanding that the fast growing hybrid poplars that one Colorado company sells are tissue cloned from a fraction of a leaf.

    There are various methods for vegetative propagation. As an example, with the India rubber plant you take off the outer layer of the stem, place damp moss around this area, then place plastic around it until roots form. When the roots are developed you simply cut off the new plant. This method is called air-layering. With roses, choke cherries, currants, etc. you do as you described, take a cutting and place in damp sand. Treating the cut with a root stimulant is usually advised. Also leaf pruning allows that the stem cutting need to take in less moisture until roots are formed.

    Various plant propagation works better by one method than others. I suggest you get a book or a list showing the best method for each that you wish to propagate.
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you take a cutting, as described, from a tree that has been grafted on the rootstock from another tree, you will get something different. Dwarf trees are often one desirable cultivar grafted onto a dwarf root stock. A branch cutting will get you a full sized tree.
     
  4. spring77

    spring77 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, its called vegetative propagation. You can do this extremely easily for some species of trees and shrubs and some won't do it at all. The willow/poplar family is famous for having chunks of branch root if you just stuff them in the ground. On the other hand hawthorn cuttings won't root no matter how many hormones you treat them. If you were trying to do this with a specific tree I'd go online or check out a book on Plant Propogation to find out if it is doable or not beforehand.
     
  5. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    See www.freeplants.com to start. Michael Dirr has written "The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagarion". Making More Plantsby Ken Druse, is good for a beginner--clear instructions, pictures on the various methods.

    It is a fascinating subject one the basis for many a business. I'm just getting started.
     
  6. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Yep, depending on the tree. Vegetative reproduction *is* cloning. I've always heard 'vegetative reproduction' in reference to when it happens under natural conditions, like a spider plant sending out runners or bits of Java fern rooting themselves. When a gardener or nurseryman does it deliberately then it's generally called 'cloning.'

    I don't know what the tree is that you are dealing with, but I would suggest taking a green (ie not yet woody) bit of new growth and trying to root that. In fact, take 2 dozen cuttings because odds are that most of them will fail and you want to improve your odds of getting at least one to 'take.'

    Get a nursery tray of the kind that you would use to start seedlings (not the tiny ones that are the size of ice cubes - something bigger than that). Don't just use regular old soil from the backyard to root them. The cuttings have what can be described as weak immune systems while they are trying to grow roots and they will be very susceptible to funguses in the soil that wouldn't normally be a problem. Use a sterile potting soil or maybe peat moss mixed with vermiculite.

    Most plants will only be able to produce roots from 'nodes.' Those are the spots along the stem where leaves or new shoots sprout from. So when you clip your cuttings you'll want to make sure that there are at least 2 nodes going into the soil. Clip off any leaves or shoots from those nodes.

    There should be at least one actively growing tip on the top of the shoot. Trim off any fully mature leaves from plants that have large leaves. This is because plants normally take in water from their roots and 'excrete' it through evaporation through the surface of the leaves. But you don't want a whole lot of surface area for evaporation because these plants are going to be struggling to stay hydrated until they have root systems.

    Cover the tray with a clear plastic cover. This can just be saran wrap as long as it doesn't press down on the cuttings. At least once a day, spray the cuttings down with water. Use a well-rinsed-out windex bottle or something like that. Unless they have thick waxy leaves (like holly), they can take in water through their leaves and will need this to keep from drying out. Needless to say, keep the soil very moist at all times. Put a very, very small amount of fertilizer in the water if you are using a substrate that has no nutritional value to the plant (like peat moss & vermiculite).

    You can also use rooting hormones obtainable at most garden supply centers. The usefulness of this stuff is sort of like the Chevy vs. Ford thing. Some people think they help, others think they are next to useless. Certainly they don't hurt.

    Note that these methods are for cloning plants or trees that are finicky about it. There are plenty of plants that don't need nearly so much coddling. Good luck.

    -Jack


     
  7. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I just bought a whole bunch of trees to be delivered in the spring. And, of course, I've bought several trees in the past. Some are doing really well.

    I get to thinking that if there is a tree I really like, I can't really just use the seed because the seen might produce a tree that is different from the tree I like so much.

    I have some maple trees and some apple trees I've been thinking of propogating.

    I've ordered some cold weather pecans. If the pecans will survive the winter, I'm thinking I would like to have lots and lots of them. But they won't bear seeds for years and years.
     
  8. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    I don't know about the maples or pecans but the apples are most likely from grafts (almost all apple trees sold are from grafts). They do this to control the size of the tree and give them a better root system then they naturally had.
     
  9. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    A number of years ago I went to California and attended the California Farm Equipment show in Tulare.

    One of the exhibitors had a tree trunk wrap to protect trees. A side benefit was that the wrap somehow encouraged earlier production.

    I have used the micro-nutrient Spray-N-Grow as a foliar fertilizer, and have seen excellent results. Better blooms and for the first time full production of rose hips.

    I suspect that keeping a nut tree or fruit tree sprayed with micro-nutrients would encourage earlier production. Perhaps a wrap, micro-nutrients, and some polyacrylamides in the soil would make a difference.
     
  10. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    3girls,

    I spent spent a bunch of time cruising the freeplants site. Good stuff! He didn't cover the varieities I'm specifically interested in, but it seems that there was enough there to at least give it a try!

    jack_c-ville,

    you offer a lot of excellent info that was not at the freeplants site. What time of year do you suggest doing this?

    wy_white_wolf,

    so it would seem that I would want to start two apple trees. One for the root stock and one for the fruit. But again, I would want to start with a bit of tree and not with a seed, right?
     
  11. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    The root stock would have to be from a differant kind of tree. Spicies would depend on what size you wanted to limit it to and root structure you'd want.

    For the apple part you would just craft a branch from the apple tree to it. No need to start this tree.
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I'm a fan of "St. Lawrence Nurseries". They do not use a dwarfing rootstock. They use a standard size Antonovka rootstock. http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/apples.html Antonovka is one of the trees I ordered from them this year with the idea that should I get a hankering to try my hand at grafting some day, I would use the same stuff they use.
     
  13. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rootstocks of dwarf and semi-dwarfing types, as well as graftingt supplies can he ordered from Mellingers Inc., North Lima, Ohio. They do have a web site www.mellingers.com. Two good books on the subject are, The Grafters Handbook by R. J. Garner, and Plant Propagation Practices and Principles, sorry I don't remember the author of that one.
     
  14. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    All aple trees are grafted, as their seed does not predictably carry on the same traits as the original tree. You can plant 100 seeds from one apple tree, and get only a couple that bear the same quality of fruit....

    Maples would likely sprout roots from cuttings, or graft. However those you can grow from seed much easier. They will predictably reproduce.

    There are products you can put on a tree branch, wrap it, and it will more likely spout some roots at that point. Cut the branch, plant it, treat it real well, & it could turn into a tree.

    This has extremely different results on different types of trees, as others mention.

    Does your state or county have a tree program? Here in Minnesota you can buy trees in bundles of 10 for a buck or 2 per tree. They are very small, but would be far cheaper than trying to graft on your own....

    --->Paul