A graceful tree available in a diversity of colors, blooming seasons and sizes ranging from dwarf trees to giants reaching 50 feet and more, dogwood (Cornus spp.) is valued for its attractive foliage and spectacular blooms. The hardiness of dogwood, which includes both deciduous and evergreen species, varies depending on the species. However, most grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Clone dogwood by rooting softwood cuttings between early and late summer.
1 Cut stem tips from a healthy dogwood tree using a pair of clean, sharp garden pruners. Each cutting should be no more than 3 inches long. Leave two or three leaves on the top of the stems and remove the remaining leaves by pinching them cleanly from the stems with your fingernails.
2 Wound each cutting by scraping a sliver of bark from the bottom of the stems. A wounded spot aids in uptake of plant hormones. Scrape the stem with your thumbnail or the tip of a knife and then dip the bottom 1/2 inch of the stems in powdered or liquid rooting hormone.
3 Plant the stems about 1 1/2 inch deep in a container filled with half peat moss and half perlite or any lightweight, well-draining potting mixture. Any size container is appropriate as long as it has a drainage hole in the bottom and allows space to plant the cuttings without crowding. Poke planting holes in the rooting medium with your finger first to prevent loss of rooting hormone and damage to the stems. Allow adequate space so the leaves don't touch. Lightly pinch the planting medium around the stems.
4 Cut the leaves in half horizontally to save container space and be sure the stems don't touch. Water immediately to settle the rooting mixture around the stems.
5 Place the container in a plastic bag. Install three or four sticks or plastic straws in the container to prevent the plastic from dropping down on the leaves and then close the bag tightly with a rubber band. The plastic keeps the rooting mixture moist until the dogwood cuttings root -- usually about four weeks.
6 Open the bags for five to 10 minutes twice every week to prevent a buildup of humidity that may cause the stems to rot.
7 Place the container in a warm, shady place. If possible, place the container on top of a refrigerator, television set or other warm appliance.
8 Plant the stems in 4-inch planting containers filled with standard potting soil when the cuttings display new growth, which indicates the cuttings are rooted. Return the pots to a warm, shady location.
9 Water as needed to keep the potting soil slightly moist. Never allow the mix to become bone dry, but don't water excessively because the new plants may rot. Although you can plant the young dogwoods outdoors in spring, success is more likely if the trees remain in a warm, protected area for an additional year.
Items you will need
- Garden pruners
- Rooting hormone
- Planting container with drainage hole
- Peat moss
- Plastic bag
- Rubber band
- 4-inch planting containers
- Standard potting soil
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Dogwood
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cornus Florida
- University of Kentucky Extension: Propagating Plants in and Around the Home
- The American Horticultural Society, Plant Propagation; Alan Toogood, ed.
- The New Sunset Western Garden Book; Kathleen Norris Brenzel, ed.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images