Propagating Tree Collards from Cuttings

How to Rooting Cuttings

Starting a new tree collard plant can be easy but it takes a moment of daily attention to water and light until the plants have rooted. If you just ordered tree collard cuttings in the mail, we recommend our simple directions included to help make sure that your collards get off to a great start.  It requires only potting soil, containers, and cuttings.  It is the way we propagate our plants for sale.  You may find other techniques for rooting online including water cloning machines, using rooting hormones, and rooting in water.  While these may work sometimes, we have not found these methods to work as consistently.  That said, the cuttings are sold in bundles of 3 or 4 cuttings because they usually don’t all make it.  But even one happy plant can get you started and you can take more cuttings of it once it has taken off.

The basic steps for rooting a tree collard are: take a cutting, plant it in a container with potting soil, keep the soil moist in appropriate lighting, and wait patiently for your new plant to grow.

Below is an updated video we made in 2020 on propagating tree collards from cuttings, followed by a more detailed written explanation.

Take a cutting

You want to take your cuttings from fresh growth on the tip of an existing tree collard. You will probably want a cutting that is at least four to six inches long.  Make sure the cut on the bottom is cut at an angle. Next, cut off all of the leaves, except for 2-3 tiny ones on the very top of the cutting.  Leaves respire a fair amount of water so you need to remove them. It is fine if a cutting isn’t particularly straight as tree collards eventually get curly growth.  The diameter of the cutting should be at least as wide as a pencil.  Wider cuttings usually take off more quickly, but not always.

Plant cutting in a container with potting soil

We suggest using a second hand 4 inch or one gallon sized nursery container. If you don’t have one, an alternative is to create 4-5 quarter inch holes in the bottom of a quart yogurt container or something similar. Holes on the bottom are critical for proper drainage or the cutting may rot.

Fill the container with a high quality potting soil.  We use “recipe 420” potting soil by EB Stone, but any organic and natural potting soil available in your area will be a good choice. A good potting soil will hold on to a lot of water but will still drain well.  If you don’t have access to potting soil, you can also use perlite, vermiculite, and sand mixed with some compost. Garden soil on the other hand can be very ‘heavy’ and not drain very well in a nursery can but if you don’t have any other options, try using garden soil that is very high in organic matter (for example, collect soil from under a pile of rotting branches and leaves).

Gently tap your container with the potting soil down on a hard surface to help it settle.  Then stick the cutting two thirds or even further in your soil.  Gently press your fingers or fist down around the cutting.  Now it is time to water it.

Keep the cutting moist but not waterlogged.  Depending on the temperature and sun exposure, you will likely need to water your cutting daily.

During a hot time of year you’ll want to root your cutting somewhere shady that is protected from the heat. It is important that it get at least some sunlight though- it will die without any sunlight. During cooler months shade isn’t as critical, in fact your plant will root faster in the sun as long as it doesn’t get too hot and dry out. Tree collards can tolerate some freezing weather, but it is best to protect your cuttings from hard freezes until they have roots and are planted in the ground. In warm times of year you’ll want to water your cutting at least once a day, maybe more if it’s very hot.

Have patience

Besides keeping the soil around your cutting moist, you should leave it alone. Don’t pull it out to check for roots. They might be there… and you might break them off when you’re trying to check on them. Wait for you tree collard to start growing new leaves. We’ll post a picture of our tree collard cutting from the example above when it has more leaves to give you an example of when it will be ready to plant out. Once your tree collard plant have a fair amount of new growth and you can perhaps see a couple roots poking out your pot’s drainage holes, you’ll know it’s time to plant it in the garden. Three to six weeks is a fairly common wait time, though it can take longer.

Downloadable PDF on how to root and grow Tree Collards

Instructions on rooting and growing Tree Collard Cuttings