How to Grow Big-Leaf Maple Trees From Cuttings

Updated on July 19, 2017
Casey White profile image

Dorothy McKenney is a former newspaper reporter turned researcher. Her husband, Mike, is a professional landscape/nature photographer.

You have a stunning big-leaf maple tree in your yard and you yearn to have even more for your children and several future generations to enjoy. I am going to show you how to take cuttings off of that stunning tree so that you can "clone" it into trees that will have the same characteristics as the one you have now. If you are a bit of an entrepreneur, you'll take lots of cuttings and pot them. Maple trees are very popular because of their beautiful colors in autumn before that last leaf falls and you go to work taking cuttings.

Take a long look at that beautiful tree in your yard and visualize hundreds of them growing in pots ... and you haven't bought the first seed. Plant a maple from seed and it may turn out okay, but plant a one from a cutting and it is genetically identical to the tree from which the cuttings were taken. If your tree is healthy and providing lots of shade and lots of huge leaves to be raked up when they fall, you might just have yourself a little goldmine. Every day, more and more people are trying to find ways to make a little bit of money without that effort costing them a fortune, so something that is sort of "self-replicating" seems to be a pretty good idea, doesn't it?

Note: The big-leaf maple tree is the second most abundant tree in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I live. They are both grand and beautiful.

Things you will need:

  • One big-leaf maple tree
  • Sharp, sterile clippers
  • Potting soil (I use Miracle Grow and peat moss)
  • Potting containers (any size or shape will do)
  1. The hardest part of taking cuttings off of big-leaf maple trees is the waiting, waiting, waiting for that last leaf to drop off the tree in the fall. Once you know how to take cuttings and about the endless possibilities of ways to make money growing maple trees, you want to start cutting immediately. But don't! When the tree is nearly bare, you will see (literally) thousands of viable cuttings on it, and you are welcome to take as many as you want.
  2. Select a branch that has lots of new growth (buds) and make your cutting about one-quarter inch above a bud. The cutting only needs to be about 4-6 inches long and as long as you are cutting from new growth, you can take as many as you like.
  3. If you only want to plant one tree, only take a handful of cuttings, because not every cutting will root. If you want to plant hundreds in this manner, cut until your heart is content; the tree won't care. Just make sure you are cutting new growth. You can look at a branch and see where the old growth starts because there is a ring around it, separating the woody, old growth from the softer, new growth.

A variety of cuttings - make the cut just above the bud.
A variety of cuttings - make the cut just above the bud.

Plant as Soon as Possible

  1. Once you have your cuttings, they must be planted as soon as possible. But first, dip the root end in some good rooting hormone, then I suggest you put the cutting in a container so you can watch it closely (and transplant it outside later after you know you have some good rooting started), but I also suggest you don't keep the container in the house. Use a good potting soil like Miracle Grow and mix in a little peat moss so the mixture is a little lighter, giving the roots room to grow.
  2. Make sure you space your cuttings generously, allowing for lots of dramatic spreading once the tree begins maturing. It will grow very fast when it is young, but growth will begin slowing down when it matures. The active growth period for a big-leaf maple is spring and summer.
  3. Take note of the different colors of the big-leaf maple tree leaves in this article. They start out green, then begin turning yellowish, reddish, then brown.

Don't Repeat My Mistake

The first time I took cuttings, I put them in a container and put the container in the house where the temperature was usually around 70 degrees fahrenheit. They started developing some sort of white-looking fuzzy fungus and wouldn't root. Trees are meant to be grown outside, at least a big-leaf maple tree is. You can, of course, turn up a little soil outside and plant your cuttings directly into the ground. Either way, you need to plant almost the whole cutting, leaving only about one-half an inch showing.


  • If you have a small yard, try a different maple tree. This one is fast-growing and has a massive branching ... it needs a lot of space.
  • Do use a rooting hormone, since it helps to stimulate good growth.


Questions & Answers


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        Madeline 6 years ago

        Will this work on a Dogwood tree