How to Grow Roots on a Broken Branch

Written by bonnie grant
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How to Grow Roots on a Broken Branch
Downed branches may be rooted if they are retrieved and planted quickly while the tissue is still alive. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Winter's heavy snows, ice and winds can really wreak havoc on your favourite plants. It is a sad morning when you wake up and find that one of your prized trees has lost a limb. There is hope, however, that the branch can become an entirely new plant. Propagation of woody plants is often done by cuttings. A cutting is not much different from a broken branch, except that one is cleanly severed and intentional, while the other will require some trimming following an act of nature. Growing roots from woody stems and branches, however, takes longer than other types of propagation.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sharp knife or pruners
  • Alcohol
  • Rooting hormone
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Pot
  • Plant mister
  • Plastic bag big enough for the pot
  • Sticks or straws
  • Potting soil
  • Bigger pot
  • Trowel

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  1. 1

    Sterilise a sharp knife or pruners with alcohol to prevent spreading disease. Find the terminal end of the branch and cut a section of the wood 3 to 5 inches long. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone to help the branch grow roots faster.

  2. 2

    Make a soilless rooting mix from half peat moss and half perlite. Fill a pot with the mixture and water the medium with a plant mister until the medium is evenly moist. Poke a hole in it big enough to accommodate the cutting. Insert the cutting into the medium to a depth of at least 1 inch. Place a plastic bag over the entire pot and put it in a location with temperatures ranging from 15.6 to 21.1 degrees Celsius with dim lighting during rooting.

  3. 3

    Check the cutting frequently for moisture needs. Keep the same moisture level while waiting for roots. When watering, add the water around the periphery of the cutting and keep excess moisture off the wood to prevent rot and mould. Use sticks or straws if necessary to keep the bag from contacting the cutting. Rooting may occur in a month, but it may take longer.

  4. 4

    Open the bag daily for an hour to allow excess moisture to escape and prevent the growth of mould. Remove the bag when the cutting has rooted and move the pot to a well-lit, warm area. The branch will now be forming leaves and will need light to perform photosynthesis.

  5. 5

    Re-pot the cutting when the root mass is thick. Fill a slightly larger pot with potting soil and gently lift the cutting out of the medium with a trowel. Plant it in the potting soil and water it until the moisture seeps out of the drainage holes.

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