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how to grow bonsai from cutting

How To Grow Bonsai Plants From Cutting

Do you have a specific bonsai in your mind and want to do everything for it from scratch? How about going for a cutting method for growing your bonsai?

Cutting involves taking branches from a healthy tree and placing it into the soil to create a new tree. The cutting method may sound challenging, but we assure you it is not tough as you may think.

The cutting technique is quicker than seed development. You can grow similar species from cutting, which may not be possible with seedlings.

Here is the detailed step-by-step guide on how to grow bonsai tree with cuttings:

How to grow bonsai from cutting

Step 1: Choose a plant

Pick a plant you want to grow as a bonsai. Make sure the plant is healthy and green enough. If the plant is damaged or weak, it may not thrive well. 

Step 2: Take a cutting

Now, look for a sturdy and healthy branch from the intended parent tree if you cut it yourself. Make sure the branch you choose has a lot of recent, green growth.

After selecting a branch:

  • Cut it at a 45-degree angle.
  • Simply make one precise cut with a pair of bonsai or gardening shears. Be careful while doing this.

Place the cutting in a water-filled container as soon as you cut the branch. You can place it in a flower vase or mason jar.

Step 3: Remove excess leaves

Next, you should remove the leaves and trim them back.

Make sure you don’t clip off the leaves closest to the branch’s bottom.

It ensures that you can recognize new growth. By doing so, you won’t have to worry about your fresh cutting. During the challenging stage of photosynthesis, it consumes too much of its stored energy.

Step 4: Choosing a pot

You should select a pot for your cutting. 

For fingertip-sized bonsai, you can choose small plant pots. But, if you are using larger cuttings for your bonsai, go for larger pots.

Step 5: Add soil mixture

Prepare a combination of organic compost and soil. However, first, fill the container’s bottom with fine gravel or sand.

Regular potting soil or mixtures do not work well for bonsai trees.

You will need a bonsai soil mixture to grow a tree from cutting. It comprises organic compost, pumice, akadama, lava rock, and fine gravel. 

The pH range for the container’s contents should be 6.5 to 7.5. Rich and well-draining soil guarantee a healthy growth rate and excellent root development.


  • You should fill your pot to a depth of at least 3 inches.
  • Although if you are using larger cuttings, it may require a minimum depth of 3 to 5 inches. Smaller cuttings simply need 2 inches.

Step 6: Prepare for planting.

Using a sharp carving knife, you must remove the cambium (also known as the green stuff) from the bottom 2 to 3 cm of your cuttings.

Start by making a complete circle with your bonsai cuttings. Now, cut around 2 cm from the bottom of the cutting.

It aims to eliminate all cambium components, including living phloem and xylem. In short, you should get rid of anything green to reveal a white interior wood.

Step 7: Apply Rooting Hormone

Now you can apply rooting hormone to the bottom of the cuttings to ensure maximum growth. Nursery shopkeepers or retailers sell rooting hormones under numerous distinct brand names. These rooting hormones generally come in various mediums, including gel, liquid, and powder. Among them, powder is the most popular as they are easier to apply.

1. Powder rooting hormone: This is the most common product that you can get at any gardening store. Rooting hormone in powder formation is generally the most useful and best-rooting hormone for new or home gardeners who reproduce houseplants or other ordinary plants from cuttings.

2. Liquid rooting hormone:  You can utilize some liquid rooting hormone as is, while others take the formation of a concentrate, needing you to dilute them first. Read the directions on the package carefully—if you leave the cutting in the liquid hormone for too long or use a concentration level that’s too high, you endanger harming or killing the plant cuttings.

3. Rooting gel: A gel is identical to a rooting liquid hormone but thicker in consistency. If you can’t get your rooting hormone in powder form, you should use gel as it is normally easier to operate with than a liquid.

You can dip once for smaller cuttings and 3-4 times for larger ones.

Step 8: Planting the cutting

Place your cuttings into the pot. You need to keep your cuttings in place for them to grow. The easiest way to achieve this is to plant the soil as firmly as possible, keeping the cutting in place.

Step 9: Water your cutting

After planting, give the bonsai cutting regular watering. Continue watering the young tree whenever the top of its soil appears dry. The best time would be after two to three weeks.

You should place your cutting in an area with lots of natural light. An ideal place would be the window that faces south.

In any case, your cutting should be exposed to the sun for six to eight hours each day.

Step 10: Time to wait

Cuttings may take around two weeks to form roots, but it may take several years for the young tree to be ready for shape and pruning. You must be patient to master the art of growing your bonsai plants.

Additional Tips

  • During the first few weeks of planting a cutting, make sure to check on your bonsai several times every day. 
  • Water your cutting if it appears to be too dry. 
  • You can reduce the amount of sun the tree receives if the soil is still wet and seems more dehydrated than usual.
  • For the next few months, you must keep an eye on your cutting as it will assist you in learning how to tend to its needs. 
  • Always remember that patience is required when growing bonsai trees from cuttings. 

When to start cutting?

According to the bonsai experts, spring and summer are the best seasons to take cuttings and plant them. 

Why it is hard to grow bonsai from cuttings?

Bonsai is an art and a result of your constant surgery to make them look a certain way while living in a tiny pot. So creating a bonsai is as delicate as it seems. So it goes without saying that taking care of Bonsai trees demands a particular amount of understanding about appropriate care and taking them seriously. Otherwise, they will dry out and fail off rather quickly. 

Also, creating Bonsai from cuttings is straightforward but needs patience. It takes a few years before they are prepared for shaping. Be patient and let the cuttings expand before you begin with pruning and repotting.

The positive factors of bonsai creation from cuttings:

1. The roots that arise from a suitable cutting do so roughly at the exact level and expand evenly outwards from the branch. This gives you a huge benefit and a head start with making great surface roots otherwise named “nebari.”

2. The cutting will hold identical features to the plant from which it was taken. So if you know a neighbor who has a Chinese elm tree with really well-shaped leaves then a cutting from that tree will create the duplicate characteristic.

3. Another advantage to this form of hereditary reproduction is that some flowering species such as the azalea can take numerous years to flower if cultivated from seed. But, if you take a cutting from a flowering tree it will start blooming almost instantly.

4. Seeds are a very widespread source of bonsai material but achieving a tree of any ideal considerable size from a seedling takes numerous years. You can reserve a ton of this time if you can find a mother plant of the exact species from which you can get a cutting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1: How long does it take bonsai cuttings to root?

Ans: In about two weeks, a cutting’s roots will begin to grow if you fulfil various criteria. You should use bonsai soil, water it appropriately, and provide it with enough sunlight. 

In the first three weeks, you should water it often to promote and stimulate the development of new roots. After that, water it as necessary based on signals from the cutting itself.

Ques 2: What differentiates big bonsai cuttings from small bonsai cuttings?

Ans: Compared to smaller bonsai cuttings, ranging in size from 2 to 4 inches, larger bonsai cuttings often measure between 5 and 15 inches. Then, larger bonsai cuttings can propagate new roots faster than smaller ones.

Ques 3: What species of bonsai trees make the best cuttings?

Ans: There are certain species that respond well to the cutting method, whereas others don’t. Even if you use little cuttings, if it is not suitable for the cutting process, your cuttings won’t survive. All your hard work of cutting will go in vain.

Species that work well with the cutting method are: 

Most deciduous trees such as: 

Chinese Elms, Ficus, Japanese Elms, Willow, Other Elm Species, Carmona

Most fruit trees such as: 

Crab apple, Lemon, Lime, Plum, Orange, Pomegranate, Olive, Apple, Cherry

Shrubs such as: 

Azalea, Honeysuckle 

Ques4: Which bonsai tree species should I avoid when taking cuttings?

Ans: Avoid taking cuttings from evergreen bonsai species, including maples, oaks, pines, and junipers. These bonsai tree species are difficult to root and can take up to a year to produce new roots.

Ques5: Why Use Cuttings To Grow A Bonsai?

Ans: Well, why not? You can have a full-grown bonsai of your favorite species and take full credit. You can promote good growth and style your bonsai as you desire. There won’t be ugly scarring from cutting large branches to meet your dream bonsai tree.

Moreover, you can also make a twin or triple trunk bonsai and grow your bonsai successfully. It is a much quicker process than growing from seeds. 

Bonsai trees are expensive, and you can own them for free! Isn’t it a great deal?


Growing a bonsai from cutting isn’t a cakewalk, but it isn’t as challenging as climbing a mountain. You can grow a bonsai tree if you have the time and patience to dedicate to the project. You can design the bonsai as you want it to look! The only drawback to using cuttings is waiting for your bonsai to grow to enjoy the art.

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