The Q&A Archives: Propagating Peach Tree from Cuttings

Question: I took two branches off my peach tree, when it was dormant and planted in pots, placed a large glass jar over them to root them. They did fine for a couple of months, grew leaves and all looked good. Then I took the jars off and they are wilting and not looking too good. What should I do to keep them growing? The original tree is from my mother who passed away. The new ones are for my children to pass on from my mother. Please help. Carolyn Helley Huachuca City, AZ

Answer: What a wonderful gift for your children! I wish it were so simple to root a peach cutting. Most peach trees are composed of two parts: the upper part (the scion) that bears the fruit is grafted onto a rootstock. Grafting would be the preferred way to propagate your tree; but, of course, it means you must have access to a suitable rootstock, and learn the basics of the art of grafting. It is, in theory, possible to root cuttings like you tried. Unfortunately, it is tricky and the resulting tree can be weak and prone to disease. (One of the reason fruit trees are grafted to rootstocks in the first place is because the rootstocks transfer some of their desirable characteristics--hardiness, dwarfing, disease-resistance--to the tree above.) Did you see any signs of roots on the cuttings you made? I have a feeling they were simply living off stored energy, and when that ran out they withered. Are there any orchards in the area? Could you find someone local with the equipment and knowledge to graft them for you? I suggest you contact an organization named the North American Fruit Explorers. These folks are amateur fruit growers, passionate about preserving heirloom varieties. I'll bet a letter to the editor published in their newsletter "Pomona" would get you some help. The address: NAFEX, Rte 1 Box 94, Chapin, IL 62628

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