What is Tree Propagation?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Tree propagation is the process of using stem cuttings or seedlings from existing trees to cultivate new trees. This process helps to expedite the development of new trees and is often part of any aggressive campaign to replace wood that has been harvested from private or public lands. Be learning how to propagate trees, it is possible to make sure trees of all types continue to thrive and are available for future generations.

With tree propagation, two basic methods are employed. Both approaches call for the collection of seedlings or cuttings from currently healthy trees. All efforts are made to ensure the cuttings that are collected are also healthy and capable of being developed into a plant that will be able to flourish in a natural environment.

The first option in tree propagation involves grafting the cuttings onto a tree for the specific purpose of developing the cutting into a plant that is capable of eventually growing into a separate tree. Once the graft is considered healthy enough to survive on its own, it is harvested and nurtured for a short time in a controlled environment, such as a greenhouse. Eventually, the young tree is planted during a period when the climate is ideal and the tree is likely to take root and thrive. In most cases, the young tree is planted in soil that has been tested and found to contain the proper nutrients to support growth.


A second approach to tree propagation bypasses the use of grafting and nurtures the seedling or cutting in a controlled environment. As the seedling grows into a young tree and develops the beginning of a root system, the progress is monitored closely. When the development reaches a certain level, the tree is prepared for removal from the controlled environment and planted in soil where it is highly likely to thrive.

There are a number of benefits to the use of tree propagation. The process makes it possible to repopulate areas of land where the trees have been harvested for use in building projects or the manufacturing of various types of wood products. Rather than relying on nature alone to repopulate the area, tree propagation speeds the process along, making it possible for the area to be harvested again after several years.

Tree propagation also makes it possible to collect and prepare seedlings for use in areas that have lost tree coverage due to some sort of natural disaster. By reintroducing trees into the affected area, the potential for erosion is decreased and the ability of the area to recover from the disaster is enhanced. From this perspective, propagating trees can be seen as a way to protect the local environment from more damage.

Businesses and governments usually have an interest in tree propagation. Businesses propagate trees as a means of ensuring the continuing availability of natural resources for use in the manufacturing process. Governments see tree propagation as a way of protecting the environment, keeping valuable land usable for the economy and for the well-being of the general populace.


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