How best to propagate weeping apple trees by taking cutting?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Terence in South Africa: As a general rule, most if not all weeping trees are propagated by grafting. This is an asexual method where the weeping tree is fused to the rootstock of a compatible tree, in your case another apple. I am not sure if you are talking about a crabapple or an apple grown specifically for fruit, but either way grafting is the method of choice. For a homeowner this is a challenge since it takes an experienced grower’s knowledge to do this successfully and we do not typically have rootstock available for us to experiment with. As for propagating your tree from cuttings, you might have some success with softwood cuttings but hardwood is usually difficult to root. Softwood cuttings can be taken in May or early June from the current season’s growth. Each cutting should be 4-6 inches long and potted up in peat such as perlite mix. The cut end should be dipped into a rooting hormone to encourage roots before planting. Make sure your containers are just a few inches in diameter and allow for good drainage. Keep the soil evenly moist but never sopping wet. It can take several weeks for roots to develop, and as they fill up the container they can be bumped up into a larger one to continue to grow. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight and avoid fertilizing until it is time to transplant them. For a higher success rate you can take several cuttings. If you would like more detailed information on propagation methods you can visit www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho67/ho67.pdf. This publication is for gardeners in the state of Kentucky but the information is still valid for your purpose. Good luck!