For best results, only take branch cuttings in late spring or early summer. Take branch cuttings no longer than six inches, as longer cuttings typically do not root as readily as small ones. After planting the branch cutting, poke numerous holes in a plastic bag and place it over the cutting. The bag keeps the seedling warm and moist, while the holes deter mold formation.
Gathering tree branch cuttings at the proper time of year is essential when growing new trees. During late spring and early summer, trees and shrubs naturally secrete hormones and other chemicals that promote new growth. Taking a cutting during this ideal time takes advantage of the tree's natural tendency to form new roots and twigs. However, planting a cutting taken during fall, when trees are shutting down, or late winter, when they have not yet fully exited their dormant period, usually produces poor results.
Many hardware stores and gardening centers sell soils specifically formulated for young trees. While these products do not harm the sapling, they are unnecessary, as any quality potting soil makes an effective substrate for the young cutting.
A chemical method to promote healthy growth in branch cuttings is to coat the base of the cutting in rooting hormone prior to planting. This chemical solution is similar to the hormones trees naturally secrete during late spring and early summer, and it promotes rapid, healthy root growth.