There are a number of plants in my landscape that bring back fond memories – plants that I propagated.

Red Mulberry. Photo credit: Vern Williams, Indiana University,

Red Mulberry. Photo credit: Vern Williams, Indiana University,

There’s a mulberry tree in my backyard that I rooted years ago. I took the cuttings from an old mulberry tree in my hometown. As a boy, I climbed the tree, got in trouble once for coming home with mulberry stains on my clothes. I liked the berries and still do. I have good childhood memories about the tree.

About twenty years ago I visited the property adjacent to my childhood home. The tree was still there. It was during mulberry season. I enjoyed a few mulberries. I took about eight or ten cuttings from the tree. About a year after my visit, the property sold. The new owner bulldozed the tree.

But because of the cuttings that I rooted, the tree still lives and not just in my memory. The trees produced by those cuttings are genetically the same as the parent tree. Essentially, they are clones. The one in my backyard produces mulberries each year.

You too can propagate memories. Not all plants can be propagated from cuttings but many can be. Sometimes trial and error is necessary to learn proper timing in taking cuttings. But most reliable references will provide the time of year to take cuttings based on the plant species.

Stem cuttings should be removed from the parent plant with a clean, sharp knife or pruner. Ideally your cutting should be 4-6 inches in length and not much thicker than a pencil in diameter.

Take the bottom two-thirds of leaves off on each cutting. The cuttings should be stuck upright in a propagation medium. I usually use a good quality potting mix and mix in a little course sand or perlite for better drainage. The cuttings should be inserted deep enough to hold them upright, usually ½ to 1 inch.

To help promote rooting of moderate to difficult to root plants, wound the cuttings by scraping the lower ½ to 1 inch of the stem with a clean, sharp knife. The scrape should remove the bark or “skin.” Then dip the cutting in a rooting hormone covering the scrape with the rooting powder prior to inserting the cutting into the rooting medium.

I usually use a four inch pot, gallon size pot or bedding plant flat with drainage holes as a rooting container. I may stick as many as ten stem cuttings in a gallon size pot. I place the container of cuttings in a shady location outdoors and keep it moist. The cuttings should produce roots in two to sixteen weeks, depending upon plant species and the environment.

After the cuttings have rooted, carefully remove them and individually plant each rooted cutting in its own four inch to one gallon size pot. Keep the potting medium moist but not soggy. After the roots adequately fill the pot, the plant should be strong enough to be planted in the ground.

As your rooted cuttings grow, hopefully they will provide fond memories.

Larry Williams