How to Easily Propagate Tree Collards From Cuttings in a Permaculture Food Forest

After having a bounty of success getting all 4 of my purple tree collard cuttings to root for my permaculture food forest, I figured the only correct thing to do was to share the experience to help other food growers discover and grow this super healthy, perennial plant in their edible landscapes and food forests. 

Purple Tree Collard Cuttings Fresh Out the MailBox

Your tree collards should come wrapped in a damp material like sphagnum moss or a paper towel to keep your cuttings from drying out. In fact, whenever you order cuttings of fruit trees or other plants, they should be kept damp somehow. This is just something you want to keep in mind on your journey as a gardener.

Unwrapping of the Purple Tree Collard Cuttings

Whip those babies out of the packing and let's get it on and popping! 

Okay, all unwrapped? That's fabulous, let me explain my results and then walk you through the process. I successfully grew roots on all 4 of the pictured purple tree collard cuttings by separating them into two different scenarios. 

1. Directly sticking them in the ground in the food forest 


2. Sticking them into a planter filled with worm castings to feed them

Both methods were wildly successful in growing the roots.

With that said, I recommend growing them directly in the food forest as with that method, you will not have to disturb the plant again to transplant it outside. I do understand that some people live in places that have far harsher winters than Memphis, grow zone 7b. So... You really need to know just how harsh the winters are before you decide whether to start your tree collard cuttings indoors or directly in your food forest.

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Rooting in Food Forest, Topped With Worm Castings

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Rooting in Food Forest, Topped With Worm Castings
Purple Tree Collard Cutting Rooting in Food Forest, Topped With Worm Castings
Using your dibbler or or a small hand trowel, you want to wiggle a small hole into the ground right where you would like to grow your tree collard. Then, add some mulch around it to help keep the ground as moist as possible. As your cutting currently does not have any roots, this added layer of mulch will help keep everything moist and will also add more nutrition to the soil as it breaks down. 

Purple Tree Collard Rooting in Food Forest Beneath a Clear Wine Glass Greenhouse

Because I started two of my tree collards directly in the ground during the winter, I made several recycled greenhouses from old wine bottles. Bottle-cutting is a simple thing to do and is a great way to be environmentally friendly while protecting your tree collards from the cold and keeping the environment around them very humid. 

I also drilled a hole into each of the wine glass greenhouses to bring in fresh air for the tree collard cuttings. 

Plastic milk jugs with their tops cut off and plastic 2 liter bottles also make great recycled greenhouses, though I did find that I prefered the recycled liquor bottles because they are transparent and let through the maximum amount of light and have a good weight to them that keeps them from being blown away in the strong winter winds. 

Once your little greenhouse is ready, you simply flip it over top of the cutting and wiggle it into place, piling the mulch high around it to keep it from falling over. 

Purple Tree Collard After Rooting Process Started in Worm Castings

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Growing Roots
Purple Tree Collard Cutting Growing Roots
As was done with the tree collard cuttings in the food forest, the tree collards that I propagated indoors were wiggled directly into a planter filled with worm castings and placed across from a window with indirect sunlight. I did not cover these cuttings for humidity as I keep a humidifier running in my indoor urban jungle. 

Purple Tree Collard Cutting (from the Worm Castings Rooting) Before Planting in Food Forest

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Before Planting in Food Forest
Purple Tree Collard Cutting Before Planting in Food Forest
The tree collard cuttings that were propagated indoors in the planter of worm castings grew leaves very quickly although they did not have a lot of root mass to show for it. I decided to transfer them out to the food forest since the other cuttings were doing so well and I wanted their roots to get established before spring came. 

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Growing Leaves in Worm Castings and Planter

Purple Tree Collard Cutting Growing Leaves in Worm Castings and Planter
Purple Tree Collard Cutting Growing Leaves in Worm Castings and Planter
This planter is situated next to a window that gets low light BUT I have a grow light angled directly above it to compensate for the lack of sunlight. The cutting started off across from a window that got a bit more sunlight, but I felt that I wasn't paying enough attention to the cutting in that location and the humidity is higher in this new location because of a humidifier that runs nearly 24/7 and the presence of other plants. 

Collard Tree Growing Beneath a Wine Glass Greenhouse in a Permaculture Food Forest

The wine glass greenhouses were very successful, free, and reusable. They've since been removed once the tree collards' leaves outgrew their little houses. 

Two Collard Trees Growing Beneath Wine Glass Green Houses in the Winter of a Permaculture Food Forest

In this photo, you can better see the air-flow holes that I drilled into the wine glass greenhouses to keep the tree collard cuttings from overheating or becoming too humid (which can cause rot). 

Tips for Directly Propagating Tree Collards in the Food Forest

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