Conifer propagation

iog-6March 26, 2008

Here's what is probably a stupid question: I understand that conifers can be grown from seed and then they can be grafted -- scion wood onto understock. Can conifers also be propagated by way of cuttings, like one can do with perennials? Will a cutting, a branch, given the right conditions, take root? If so could that then be grafted down the road? I'm addicted to puchasing conifers but know sadly little, which should be apparent, about the mysteries of their reproduction. Many thanks in advance for any enlightenment.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

there is grafting .. and there is rooting cuttings.. as ways to replicate a certain specimen .... all can be grafted.. not all can grow from cuttings ...

genetics do not allow seeds to come true to named specimens .. except for species ... and probably other exceptions ...

but you can grow irregular seedlings of species trees.. to use in a few years to graft named cultivars onto ...

for example.. the bluest picea pungens [blue spruce] is known as Picea pungens 'Hoopsi' ... to make more hoopsi.. you have to graft them.. they will not root.. and seeds off the tree will be Picea pungens.. maybe blue.. probably not ... but you could use the seedlings to graft when they get old enough ....

link is to the ACS.. amer conifer soc website ... there are some great basic articles [general information] for info on conifers in general ... take some time to zoom around the site.. there is also the British CS ...

does that give you the start you were looking for????


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 12:55PM
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Some conifers can be rooted and some cannot.

I have rooted cuttings of Thuja, Chamaecyparis and Metasequoia. I am attempting to root Juniperus communis 'Gold Cone' and Pinus mugo 'Teeny' this winter. We'll see what happens...

Some of the low-growing pinus mugo cultivars (like 'Teeny') and most of the creeping junipers can also be rooted. Most upright growing junipers are almost impossible to root.

9 times out of 10, if a plant is grafted, it's because it cannot be rooted via cuttings.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:02PM
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As a general rule (with a few exceptions), species in the cypress family (Cupressaceae) and yew family (Taxaceae) can be rooted from cuttings, while those in the pine family (Pinaceae) can't, or only with great difficulty.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Thank you both for the information. Very helpful.

Ken, you anticipated my follow up question. I was assuming that conifer seeds, as with herbaceous perennial seeds, would not reproduce a cultivar and you have confirmed that for me. I take it that is a horticultural law generally.

At least cultivars can be reproduced by cuttings (in some cases) and grafts, if not seeds. It would be very frustrating if a witches broom or a sport could ever only be one of a kind. Imagine the prices...

I joined the ACS some time ago, Ken, and love the quarterly but haven't read any of the website articles on propagation -- I'll get over there and do that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Good luck with this year's rooting attempts, treelover.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:44PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

visit the acs for general info ... not propagating specifically .... look in the left bar for a link to the intro to conifers ...

genetics are genetics .. it isnt necesarliy a horticultural law, per se .... it isnt something limited to the plant world... my kids look like neither the flower known as me.. nor my wife ... sexual propagation leads to new places.. not back from where the seed came from .. in most cases .. and one hopes.. the progeny will be better... as i do with my kids .. lol

some plants seed nearly true.. but that might even be debatable ...

anyway.. that is the limit of my genetic knowledge ... lol ...


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 5:21PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Tsuga canadensis (the only tsuga I ever tried) is one of the few Pinaceae family members that roots from cuttings. Unfortunately, with you being in Rhode Island, and given the wooly adelgid trouble in the east, hemlocks are not the best choice for you.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Picea pungens 'Freida' roots easily from cuttings I am told.

Sciadopity's grafting is easier but rooting is more than possible. I don't know about all cultivars as a general thought.

Browsing through Bob Fincham's catalogs you'll find others that root, Pines, Spruces, etc -


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:34AM
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I'm concerned about wooly adelgids, tsugajunkie but am growing a Tsuga canadenis 'Moonfrost' and a 'Vermuelen's Winter Gold.' I'd love to try a cutting from the Moonfrost someday, which I think is a stunning plant. It was already quite large and old when I planted it. Beautiful.

Will look through the Arrowhead catalogs, Dax. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:33PM
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^ correcting my own comment. Bob Fincham = Coenosium, I think.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:13PM
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