Creating a Bonsai from cuttings

Cuttings are a resonable way of starting a tree but yet again they will take some time to develop.

Most trees will take from cuttings, Pines however will not. Some species, Willow for example will root from a piece of wood as thick as your arm, if left in a bucket of water. You need to know a bit about the tree you are dealing with.

There are two types of cutting that interest us in bonsai, hardwood and softwood or 'semi-ripe'.

Hardwood cuttings

These are usually taken at the end of the growing season, from this years growth.

Dig a 'V' shaped trench about a spit (Spade depth) deep and put about 5cm of sharp sand in the bottom. Take your cuttings and have them about 12cm longer than the hole is deep. Dip the end in hormone rooting compound and place them in the trench, at about 6cm apart. Now fill the trench in. The following spring they will start into growth, leave them where they are through that year and dig them up the following spring.

Softwood cuttings

Are taken from this year's growth, usually in early summer. They should be kept in a shaded place as the sun will 'cook' them. Before taking them prepare a seed tray or pot and have a clear cover ready, a large plastic bag will do. The compost can be either 50:50 Peat:Sand, or 50:50 Peat:Pearlite. You may substitute the peat for a similar material such as coia (coconut)

Take the strongest growth you can and remove any soft tips as these will rot. Leave about four leaves. Dip the end in rooting compound and insert into the compost, deep enough to avoid touching the bottom of the container. Make sure you press the soil firmly around each cutting. Water the lot thoroughly with a fungicide added. Now put the clear cover over the container.

leave them until new growth appears and if it is not to late in the season pot them on into individual pots.

Conifer cuttings

Most Conifers are easy to root from cuttings (Pines being the exception). They can be treated as softwood cuttings, but will take longer to root. When removing them from the stock plant break them off with a 'heel' of old wood. Take all foliage that will be below soil level off as this will rot.

If you are only taking a few cuttings you may put the cutting in a pot and seal it in a large plastic bag.


No matter wether you're taking a single cutting or a number in perhaps a seed tray, try to avoid the bottom of the cutting touching the bottom of the container as this will reduce the chances if the cutting 'striking'



Allen. C. Roffey 00:58 07/01/2006