Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.
Cuttings Are the Best Way to Propagate
Because Leyland cypress trees do not produce viable seeds, the most effective way to propagate them is by rooting cuttings. The best months in which you should take the cuttings are January, February or March. Although you may be successful during other times, the percentage of cuttings to take root will probably be much lower.
If you don't have one currently growing in your yard, you can usually find someone who does who would be willing to give you a cutting. You might even find one growing in the woods somewhere.
You need to remember that when you propagate a plant using cuttings, however, the resulting plant has the exact same characteristics as the mother plant. So make sure you select one that appears to be healthy with a nice shape. I like a Leyland cypress tree that has a nice "Christmas tree" shape.
Leyland cypress trees are also extremely drought tolerant, which makes them a popular tree here in New Mexico.
Things to Consider
Before you start taking cuttings from a Leyland cypress tree, there are things other than the time of the year that need to be considered, including the age of the tree. For the most part, the most successful rooting is achieved with cuttings that are taken from a tree less than 10 years old. However, you could also take the cuttings from new growth on older trees. Try to select cuttings that show some brown coloration in the lower part of the stem.
By the time you take the cuttings, you should already have your containers set up and ready to receive them. You can begin rooting them initially in small-volume containers (I use 3" round jiffy pots from Wal-Mart). They have great drainage and, when the rooting begins, you can always transplant the plant and the container into a larger pot.
Preparing the Initial Pot
Fill each of your containers with a rooting media such as a 1:1 peat-perlite mixture. You can also use a commercially-available bag of potting soil, such as Miracle-Gro Potting Soil, which is what I use.
Using a pencil, create a hole in the soil about 2 inches deep in which you will place your cutting, which should be about 6–8 inches long.
Taking the Cutting
- Strip all leaves from the bottom few inches of the stem.
- Dip the stem into a glass of water and then into a rooting hormone powder containing 0.8% Indole 3-butyric acid (IBA), which is a formulation for hard-to-root woody plants. You will find the powder at almost any large gardening center.
- Tap off the excess powder and place the cutting into your pot, pressing it lightly in place.
Cuttings will need to be kept in a warm, humid place (if you have a greenhouse, you're already ahead of the game). If you don't have a greenhouse, you can simply cover the pots with plastic wrap.
My personal preference since I don't have a greenhouse is to cover the whole pot with a plastic soda bottle that has the label removed. It makes a handy-dandy little greenhouse in a pinch. I'm a firm believer that if you want to grow something badly enough, you will find a way to do it using the things that you have available.
Once the Cuttings Have Taken Root
New foliage appearing or the cutting showing resistance to a gentle tug will be signs that the cutting has rooted and is ready to be repotted into a larger pot or planted outdoors. Plant the cutting in the spring in an area that receives full sun and well-drained soil. Keep the soil moist until the plant begins growing on its own.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Mike and Dorothy McKenney
Christopher Hoyle on April 04, 2020:
Thanks - found your instructions very helpful - we are in Cambridge New Zealand and I'm looking forward to take some cuttings of our neighbors Leyland Cypress Hedge before they trim it.
We have just come though a very very dry summer for our region in NZ so i take it I'm best to wait until mid winter before I take these cuttings (that is if the hedge hasn't been trimmed) - we are just getting into the cooler Autumn weather now. - appreciate your advise
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on March 07, 2019:
Thanks Rajan! Our Leyland cypress tree has been a blessing for our backyard birds.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 06, 2019:
Lovely tree and very useful instructions & photos to grow a Leyland Cypress tree from cuttings. Thank you for sharing.
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on February 28, 2019:
We are just suckers for the birds and that's the only evergreen tree we have in our backyard so I'm getting more ready. We have hawks that frequent so the birds need all the shelter they can get. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
RTalloni on February 28, 2019:
Thanks, thanks for this information. We need to put in a couple of evergreens along a back fence line, but want :) more.