Getting trees on own roots

I apologize for creating a new topic, but I know the question of how to get a tree to grow on its own roots has come up.

I was reading an old book on grafting, and on page 164-165, there are instructions for how to get a tree to grow on its own roots (also instructions on how to relieve graft incompatibility.). I can’t vouch for the technique, but thought anyone interested in trying this might enjoy reading about it.

The book also has intructions for how to do a number of different grafts, and variations on them. Some I had never heard of before. An interesting read.


Some pretty sophisticated styles for approach grafts to get the scion going on its own roots! The method I took was far more rustic.
Lord Lambourne proved to be a diminutive tree standing on Bud9 (bench graft from Greenmantle, which appeared to have been made as a cleft graft) and it had a fine fruit in a mild summer here, Since it needed to gain whatever size it can attain, I dug it up and replanted it with the graft union buried about 3 inches. It is pushing its own roots now, but at the same time the fruit splits on the south side of the tree in normal summers here in semi-arid Spokane. Often the split winds completely the circumference of the exposed fruit, and the little tree ceases to grow.

I top worked it this season.
Thanks for posting the book!

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Stumbled across another article detailing how to start pear trees on their own roots from cuttings:

What I found most interesting is that there was such a wide range of results depending on the variety. It sounds like Bartlett would be pretty easy whereas with Anjou it would be difficult.

Anyway, just another point of reference for those interested in growing fruit trees on their own roots.


Yes, and there are a few varieties of apple I have read about in England that are so easy to root, one can cut a cut a twig or even branch at a joint, sticking in the soil and starting another apple tree, just like that. Sounds more like a willow!

Others, not so much…

I’ve tried to start a Japanese Maple by green wood cutting and rooting hormone. One piece looks as though roots are developing - all I need is one!


As I’m interested in growing a few apples, pears, cherries, plums on their own roots I often search around the interenet looking for any experiences along those lines. Mostly it’s in old articles & journals like those already mentioned. Here’s another one I just ran across. The main focus wasn’t on own root trees but there was some good info within. Thought folks interested might find this interesting as well. From Univ Iowa archives, 1888.

This year we root grafted several apples and planted graft an inch or so below ground. Plan to do cherries and a plum this coming season. Appreciate hearing of others’ experiences.


The PDF article is no longer available at that address. Do you know where it is? If not, do you know the title of the article so we can look it up?

Last spring I thought it worth trying to root the cutaway parts of Geneva 30 apple root stock. Scored each a couple inches, dusted with Rootone and dibbled some holes. Kept the pieces out of direct sun for a month, then out of afternoon sun for the rest of the season. There might be four of six that took root - still haven’t dropped leaves. (This concerns me, though.)


Probably this article:

Title: rooting of pear cuttings - Limited tests indicate possibilities of rooting commercial varieties


Another old article that I found interesting - has to do with rooting cuttings. I’m not sure it hasn’t been referenced here before (maybe that’s where I got it?) but in case not, here is the link:

Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator’s Society 1: 33-37 (1951)
The Effect of Juvenility on Plant Propagation
By F. L. O’ROURKE Michigan State College

Here’s a bit of the text (it covers a lot more, of course):
Practical plant propagators have long known that cuttings taken from young seedling plants root much more readily than cuttings from mature plants of the same species. Goebel (11), in 1900 mentioned this relative ease of propagation in younger individuals and established the term “juvenility” to describe the physiological condition involved. …

Seedling Age And The Rooting of Cuttings - Gardner (9) in 1929 reported the chance discovery of the ease on rooting of cuttings taken from apple trees in their first season of growth, and further comparisons made with older trees of apple and many other woody plant species. With most fruit tree species, cuttings from one-year seedlings rooted well, from two-year old plants only fair, and practically not at all during the third year or thereafter. … This investigator also noted that not only were a greater number of cuttings rooted from younger plants but that the time required for root production was much shorter. He tested cuttings taken from one-year budlings of apple with negative results. He then tried treating cuttings from older trees with seed extracts, but without success as far as rooting was concerned. Gardner then cut one-year apple seedlings back to the ground and noted that the sprouts arising the second year furnished cuttings which could be rooted “and in some cases even more readily than that of the first year.” Stoutemyer (17) reported in 1937 that cuttings taken from watersprouts of apple failed to root. Seven-year old seedlings and one-year old seedlings of crabapple were cut back to the ground. Cuttings taken from the resulting sprouts the next season rooted well. Stoutemyer considered these shoots intermediate between the juvenile and mature growth phase. …"

Of course, often we don’t have a young tree to being with and are trying to root cuttings from older trees in order to GET a young tree! But always some little bits in these older publications to inspire thought - and hopefully future success. Sue



This is a Greengage plum that I started from a cutting from my grafted tree in 2015. I planted it out in Spring 2016, where it got chomped by deer. Now that I have dogs on patrol, it has grown well. It needs pruning in a few weeks, but is around 10 feet tall right now. I started 10 cuttings and they all took. I gave the others away to friends, and theirs have grown well also. Most have already been getting fruit. Mine would have been loaded this year, but a late freeze got every last one. One friend said that hers was the only tree that had fruit this year. So far so good, now if mother nature cooperates, maybe I’ll get some plums next year.



Can you tell us what specific methods you used?

For example, did you use rooting hormone? Did you use cuttings taken when the tree was dormant or when it was leafed out for the summer? What conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, and growing medium) did you use?

It would be quite interesting and potentially very helpful to have this kind of information.

Thanks for sharing.

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I took cuttings late winter, during pruning, before leafing out. I used about 10 to 12 inch cuttings and scraped the ends on two sides. I did use root tone on the cuttings, and used regular potting soil with compost and perlite mixed in. I kept them in my greenhouse, which has fairly high humidity, and warmer than outside, but I cannot tell you exactly what humidity and temp. It was somewhat of a haphazard effort on my part. I only needed one to take as that was all I wanted. Sorry I don’t have more specifics for you, but this was one of my first hardwood rooting attempts.




Thanks for the information! It’s helpful for others interested in replicating your results.

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My rooted cutting Green Gage plum tree today.

If the weather and bugs cooperate, maybe I’ll get some plums this year.




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