The Q&A Archives: Propagating Quaking Aspen

Question: How do I propagate quaking aspens? Can I take softwood cuttings and overwinter them in my garden under glass? Do I plant seeds and if so when is the best time?

Answer: Actually, you can easily start quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) from hardwood cuttings. Take dormant shoot cuttings early next spring, and plant them in a nursery bed with just their tips, with a few buds, exposed from the soil. They ought to take right off! The trees grow best in moist, well-drained soil.

Adult quaking aspen send out lots of underground runners that sprout "suckers", vigorous young shoots that grow quickly, since they have the advantage of the adult tree's root system to push their growth. This is why you almost always see groves of these "popples", and almost never see a specimen planted alone. They're also brittle, relatively short-lived (40 years), so stands keep themselves going with their numerous runner sprouts.

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