Growing from cuttings
Cultivating trees from cuttings, or "Sashiki" in Japanese, is very popular among Bonsai growers because it's an inexpensive way to propagate new trees. This method reduces the time it takes to grow new trees from seeds by about a year and provides some foresight into which characteristics the cuttings will have.
Start by collecting suitable cuttings. Most types of trees are easily propagated using cuttings, especially when dealing with deciduous trees and some conifers. Select a branch of an existing tree and cut it off. For the most reliable results keep the size of each cutting between 2-4" (5-10cm) in length, and 1/8" (3-5mm) thick. You can use larger cuttings, but the chances of them rooting successfully are reduced.
Timing is everything
Generally speaking, the best time to cut and plant your cuttings is during spring and summer. Some hardwood cuttings can be prepared and planted after their growing season in the late summer. Take a look at the Bonsai tree species guide for timing instructions on specific trees.
From cutting to Bonsai
Before we start the propagating process, let's highlight the development stages of young trees. Growing a Bonsai from seeds or cuttings will be a test of your patience. However, it is a great way to style Bonsai trees without having to deal with large wounds from pruning thick branches, which is often inherent to styling Yamadori or nursery stock.
Take a look at the Bonsai styling section for detailed information on wiring and pruning techniques. But first, five images of a Cryptomeria tree that was grown from seed into Bonsai over the course of 22 years. Credit to Jose Ontañón for sharing these inspiring images.
1 year old Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria)
5 year old Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria)
10 year old Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria)
18 year old Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria)
22 year old Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria)