It is easy to start a tree from a root sprout. With the right tools and knowledge, these separable parts of a plant can clone your favorite tree in your yard.

Start a Tree From a Root Sprout

In this article, we will teach you effective techniques to cut, transplant, and grow a healthy baby tree from root sprouts.

How To Start a Tree From a Root Sprout

Thorough preparation and correct timing are the key elements to starting a tree from a root sprout. You will find root sprouts at the base of a tree or a shrub. They grow fast, retaining the nutrients of the parent plant. You can get a new growth tree from root sprouts in this cost-effective way.

– Prepare for the Cut

Before you begin, start organizing the supplies that you will need. Here is a list of the basic tools and equipment you will need for this project:

  • Sharp pruners: Sharp pruners give the root sprout a clean cut. The ideal type of pruner will be bypass types. Don’t forget to sterilize the blades with any household disinfectant before you cut the root.
  • Planting containers: This will hold the cuttings once they are detached from the parent tree. Sterilize the container before use to prevent the delicate root sprouts from developing bacteria.
  • Rooting hormone: This is required to stimulate root development and growth. You will need this immediately after you make the root cut.
  • Rooting medium: This provides support and moisture to the newly cut root sprout. Mix one part peat moss and three parts sand and have them at the ready. You can also place the cutting in a potting mix with perlite.

– Choose a Healthy Parent Tree

Identify the tree from which you want root sprouts from. To establish healthy trees growing from roots, choose the right parent tree. It has to be healthy and thriving, as a diseased parent tree will result in a weak baby tree.

If the parent tree belongs to someone else in your neighborhood, remember to ask permission before you place the cut.

– Choose the Right Time To Cut

It is important to time the cutting of your root sprout properly. This will depend on the species of the tree. Take cuttings when the tree is soft and viable.

Here are some things you can take note of to help you determine the perfect time to cut root sprouts from your tree.

  • Non-woody, soft-stem trees: For these trees, you can take a root sprout at any time of the year. The roots of such trees develop very quickly and easily.
  • Softwood trees: For woody plants, take a cutting in late spring and early summer. Take the cuttings from the soft new growth.
  • Semi-hardwood: The woody stems of these trees mature during midsummer to early fall. This will be the right time to place a cut.
  • Hardwood: The best time to take a cutting is between late fall and late winter. This is the time when the plant shows no sign of active growth.

Before you begin to cut, check the species of the tree and its viable season first.

– Cut the Right Root Sprout

To get a new tree growing from roots, make sure you use the right root sprout. Pick root sprouts that are growing away from the main stem as this will cause less damage for the parent tree. Placing a cut at a distance from the main stem will retain the volume of the parent tree.

– Cut With Care

Before you place the cut, dig a hole 4 to 6 inches around the root sprout. Use a hand shovel or spade to prevent damage to the parent tree. Dig until you reach the main tree’s root system.

If the sprout has developed a root system of its own, dig it out in its entirety, cutting the link from the parent tree. If the sprout has not developed its root system yet, wait until it establishes one. Scrape off some of the tree bark present under the soil to aid root formation.

– Clip the Sucker Roots

With the help of pruning shears, clip the sucker roots off the tree. Make sure the roots are extending out of the base section you have removed. Retain as much soil around the roots as possible, this will protect the delicate roots.

clip the sucker roots off the tree

Place the cuttings in a sterile planting container until you replant them.

– Rooting Tree Root Sprout

To get the new tree roots sprouting again, begin by moving them into water. Take a container, fill it up with a few inches of water, and place the roots inside. When you begin to see tree roots sprouting well, you can now move the cuttings to the soil.

Move the baby tree to a light organic soil. Keep the soil moist and give sufficient time for it to develop shoots and roots. You will soon see a new growing tree.


How to Transplant Tree Shoots

When you see the new tree growing from its roots, it is now time to transplant the baby tree. You will have to pay attention to the following factors in your transplantation process.

– Know When to Transplant

Transplant once the baby trees have established their root system. You will notice that the shoots have become sturdy and will hold the soil well. This is the first growth phase. At this stage, you can either move it to a larger pot or transplant it into the ground.

– Uncover During Fall

The right time to uncover the baby tree and transplant it is in early fall. This will give the plant enough time to adapt to the soil conditions and temperature before the winter chill sets in.

– Pick a Suitable Spot for the Tree

Depending on the species of the tree and its growth, choose a suitable area for its growth. Dig a hole bigger than the pot. A wide hole will help the tree root’s growth in the initial stages. Leave as much soil as possible around the baby tree to protect it.

– Fence the Tree

You can opt to secure the baby tree with a fence. This will protect it from animals who come looking for tender plants to feed on.

Root sprouts grow fast, and they also retain the nutrients from their parent plant. Thus, the new tree roots that will sprout from the baby tree will require little or no attention.

Root Sprouts Care

Whether you begin to grow your root sprouts in water or in soil, you will need to ensure they receive adequate care. This will make it grow healthy and free of diseases.

oil palm sprout with root 1

Here is what you need to do.

– Do Not Damage the Parent Plant

In your process of obtaining root sprouts, take care not to damage the parent plant. Loosen the soil around the root sprout with a shovel or a fork. Lift it with its associated roots without disturbing the parent plant.

When you detach it, check whether it has a root system. Firm the soil around the parent plant to complete the process.

– Use Hormone Rooting Powder

Immediately after cutting it, dip the base of the root sprout into hormone rooting powder. This will stimulate growth and activate the root system. Cover the tip of the base with the powder and tap to remove any excess formula.

– Place Cuts in the Right Season

Take care when you cut the root sprout as your baby tree’s health will depend on the time you cut it from its parent. Take note of what type of tree the parent plant is, but the ideal time to cut is between early October and early April for most species. Summer and winter cuts tend to result in weak baby plants.

– Avoid Taking Decaying Root Sprouts

Decaying stumps carry insects and fungi. This can hamper the growth of the new tree growing from the roots. Cut low to avoid decaying root sprouts.

Cut in a smooth and sloping way to make the water drain and the danger of insects and fungi will be reduced. Also, leave the bark intact. A wounded bark invites pests, insects and fungi into the tree.

– Prepare the Soil

Once you choose a spot to transplant the baby tree, take additional care to prepare the soil. Nourish the soil well. Mix compost or manure to provide nutrition and organic material.

Mix compost Manure to Provide Nutrition

The soil needs to be moist but not soggy. Soggy soil can destroy the young delicate roots of the plant. With this in mind, preventing water logging at the base of the plant is essential.

Water the plant enough to ensure it retains moisture. Also, clear the area of seeds and wild growth as these can compete with the new root system for nourishment and water.


How long will a tree root sprout keep?

A tree root sprout can survive for several weeks to a few months, depending on the species and growing conditions.

Is it better to water a tree root sprout at night or in the day?

It is generally better to water a tree root sprout during the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler, and evaporation rates are lower. This helps ensure that the water reaches the roots and is absorbed, rather than being lost to evaporation. Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day when the sun is high and temperatures are at their peak.

Can you overwater a tree root sprout?

Yes, overwatering a tree root sprout can lead to root rot, which can be fatal to the plant. Proper drainage is important.


Now that you know that growing trees from root sprouts is possible, let us summarize the process we learned from the article above.

  • Choose a healthy parent tree.
  • Choose the right time to make a cut.
  • Place the cut cleanly and with care.
  • Transplant the cutting after the first growth phase during early fall.
  • Avoid taking decaying root sprouts.
  • Use hormone rooting powder to activate the root system of the baby tree.
  • Nourish the soil around the new plant with compost or manure.

Using these tips, you can now clone your favorite tree in your yard or garden. Root sprouts are an easy and cost-effective way to start a new tree.

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