Monday, April 7, 2014

Cloning a peach tree.

I bought a cloning kit years ago and then promptly hid it from myself. I unearthed it a few weeks ago, so I put it out in a visible location (read: I will trip over it daily) so I would remember to try this technique this spring. What is so neat about cloning is that it is a fast-forward time machine. If you start a tree from seed, it will probably take a minimum of three years before it sets fruit. If you clone an item, you automatically have a plant the same age as its parent in just a few short weeks.

This technique is a variation of asexual propagation called “layering.” Layering allows roots to form on the stem first and then the stem is cut off. The result is a new mini tree that is ready to plant. How exciting is that?! The process should take 6-8 weeks. It is Day One and I already want to go out and see if roots have formed. Waiting is not my strong suit.

In the picture here, I am cloning a dwarf peach tree, Red Haven, I believe. The peach tree is of fruiting age, so I should have fruit this year from this cloned tree specimen.

1. Cut a ring through the bark and remove bark. Should be about 1/2” in height. 2. The end result: cup in place and branch is tied to hold cup as upright as possible, which keeps water in cup. 3. Layering cup. The bottom inch is a water reservoir. 4. Tools needed - sharp knife, rooting hormone, soilless rooting mix, and layering cup with lid. The directions say to moisten the mix after you put it in the cup. I wet it down first so it would be good and moist.          5. Applying rooting hormone. 6. Mistakes happen. The branch on the right side was too close for the cup to close. You need to have about an inch and a half of clearance under the cup. 7. Prune your mistake. Don’t you wish life were that simple? 8. Filling cup with soilless mix. 9. Lid is applied and secured through slots in the cup. Tada! After assembling all the items it took about 5 minutes to do this. Now the wait… 

I checked and this kit is still available. I purchased it from Lee Valley Tools. I don't remember what I paid but 5 cups cost $15 now, about the cost of one fruit tree. I see there are new options since I originally purchased it - a watering syringe and the rooting hormone. It is called the Rooter Pot. Click here to see it.

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