Rooting a cutting in a potato

lamconSeptember 6, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Paul James on HGTV. He mentioned that a method of getting tree cuttings to root was to poke a hole in a potato, place the cutting in the hole and then completely submerge the potato under the soil.

Just for fun, we're trying it. After a couple of weeks, it's started to fizz up, and the leaves don't look promising, but they're still green and haven't shrivled yet. We're going to leave it for a while and see what happens.

Has anyone else ever tried this? How long does it take? How does it work? Does the potato give the cutting a moist place until the roots can develop and take to the soil? Thanks!

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Some trees grow from cuttings easily, some don't. What tree are you trying?

Wouldn't the buried potato grow into a potato plant?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 1:20AM
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Hi Noki,

We're using an Autumn Blaze Maple cutting. I thought the potato would grow into a plant too. That has yet to happen though. Paul James mentioned that the potato had to be completed buried under the soil. I'm wondering if there aren't buds and the sunlight is limited, if that plays a role in the potato sprouting.

Apparently this is a very old technique. Has anyone else tried it? I'm very curious to see if it works. I would think the ample moisture and nutrients in the potato would provide a decent climate (if the cutting doesn't rot first. I'm keep you all posted.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 9:00AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

PJ is very entertaining ... but i sometimes cringe at his suggestions ...

anyway.. have you tried the shows website????

if a certain plant is rootable .... as noted some are.. some arent.. you can root them in a milk jug ... top cut away .. with perlite ... and a gallon baggies for a tent .... AT THE APPROPRIATE time of year for such ...

why one would want to waste the cost of potatoes to it all is beyond me ...

there is a propagation forum ... and try google.. using the latin name ... something like ACER AUTUMN BLAZE PROPAGATION .... and you will learn how.. and when ...

good luck


    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 3:02PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I tried it but had better luck rooting the cuttings conventionally. Every type of cutting I tried did better without the potato.

Ditto what Ken said about PJ.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 10:25PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I wrenched my thumb once while attempting to do a faster-than-the-speed-of-sound channel switch when PJ came on. I'm afraid that if I have to look up his nose or at his tonsils one more time, my eyes will begin to bleed.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 12:45PM
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I've had excruciating back pain all day, but this post and answers made me laugh. Fortunately it doesn't hurt when I laugh, though I wish it it only hurt when I laugh.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 4:37PM
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I just posted this update in another area, but thought I'd post it here too:

Hi there,
I tried this after watching Paul. I tried it with a tree cutting which was a long shot. It didn't work for me with the tree branch. I kept it outside and made sure it was moist.

What was interesting is that on warm days, the potato would foam. Recently, I realized the cutting wasn't going anywhere and took it out to add to the compost pile. Thenwhile emptying the pot, to my amazement, the potato skin was still present, but there was NO potato left inside. I saw no signs of any insects. There were no holes in the skin except for the small hole I poked to start the cutting. It was unreal. The best comparison I can make is when you poke a small hole in an egg shell and remove the contents without breaking the shell.

Anyone have any ideas on what might have happened?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:57PM
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The potato rotted away (fermenting into the foam you saw), leaving behind the rot-resistant skin.

That's why rooting cuttings in a potato isn't a good idea; the rotting potato supports a massive population of decay organisms, which will also attack the cutting. Far better to root the cutting in soil, the chances of success are much higher.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:05AM
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PS bet the potato stank horrible, too!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:06AM
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I read that the settlers did that not to root the cuttings but to keep them moist when there was little water or because water was an inconvenience in their travels. Anita

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 4:23PM
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