When to Expose Rooted Cuttings to Room Air

geoff_ri(6)February 29, 2012

I have a cutting that I rooted with the toilet paper role tube method (i.e., inner layer of light material surrounded by soil). I did this in 1 liter plastic containers. I have seen some nice fat roots and a leaf or two starting about one week ago.

My question is, when do I move it out from the covered plastic bin to the regular room air? Do I do it gradually or cold turkey?

Thanks for any help...Geoff in RI

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

ASAP after roots form - gradually. It may be a moot point unless your leaves are developing in good light. Leaves have a 'range' of light intensity they can adjust to, depending on what the light levels the leaf developed under. If you don't understand what I meant, I'll explain it using numbers. It's possible that if the plant is in low light now, full sun may be beyond it's ability to adjust to, no matter how long the acclimation period, and the leaves might be shed.

Al

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:55AM
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geoff_ri(6)

Thanks, Al. Question...gradual introduction in regard to light, room air (dry air in northeast), or both?

Thanks...Geoff

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Rob23b(7a)

In my opinion, the cutting itself and the leaves will always lose some amount of moisture to the surrounding air via evaporation. Different tissue loses air at different rates depending on various factors (e.g. leaves faster than wood, new leaves faster than old, etc). In order to replace this moisture, roots (or constant misting) are required. If you have them in a sealed bin with moist air, moisture loss will be very slow or nonexistent. If exposed to indoor dry northeast winter air, it will be fairly fast. If there is one small root, it might not supply moisture fast enough to keep the new leaves. The number and size of roots necessary depends on humidity of room and other factors. Even with many roots, some leaves will almost always drop.

If there are a couple fat roots and things appear to be going well, then you can certainly take it out and put it under a light. I have taken a great many cuttings this winter and put them straight away (after rooting in a box similar to you) under a HO T5 grow light for 18 hours a day and had no problems. If a few leaves drop, don't panic. This is expected and as long as they are putting out new ones you are fine. If there is good root growth, eventually it will put out leaves, and these will be fine under full light from the start.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:17PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Geoff - both. Chlorophyll is often referred to as the sunscreen for plants because it protects against sunburn. If a leaf is conditioned to low light, putting it in a high light environment can cause photo-oxidation (commonly - sunburn). High light intensity levels w/o adequate amounts of protective pigments present can cause chlorophyll molecules to rise to a more excited state than normal. If light levels are high enough, the energy that is released as electrons in molecules return to their normal energy state may be sufficient to form oxygen (O2) radicals from regular O2. These O2 radicals are extremely reactive particles that readily destroy chlorophyll molecules. (This is the same O- radical that causes rapid oxidation [bleaching] in organic molecules when we apply H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide]). Initial evidence of the process is seen as a bleached or whitish appearance of the leaves, and is often referred to as peroxidation, something you would want to avoid, especially initially because the energy reserves of newly struck cuttings is always low, and having to replace lost foliage soon after a cutting has struck more often than not results in cutting failure.

Al

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:32PM
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geoff_ri(6)

Okay. So you're saying easy on light and dry air introduction. A north facing window, I assume, is going to be okay. Also, there ate multiple roots, so I will assume that they will offset the dry air. Is that a fair assumption?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Rob23b(7a)

Any time you make a change, you'll want to keep an eye on things to make sure there are no problems. So if you think the roots are enough to support the cutting, by all means place it on a window sill. Check it tomorrow and the next day to make sure nothing bad is happening. Unfortunately, sometimes once you see a problem, it's probably too late. Like when you go to the beach. By the time you realize you are getting sunburnt, it's too late.

A north facing window is not going to give it much light. It certainly will not sunburn it, but I'm not sure I'd want it there for a month or more. Personally I would use a grow light or a south facing window with partial shade. Like Al says, a new cutting has already spent its reserves forming roots and leaves, so it doesn't have much left over to just sit about. That why I advocate providing more light (energy), provided you don't sunburn it. It is a tricky but worthy goal to get the right balance. People often think of fertilizer as plant food, but I think this is incorrect. Fertilizer is more like a vitamin. Sun is food for plants.

Rob

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 1:18PM
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geoff_ri(6)

Rob and Al, this has been a helpful thread.

One question about grow lights. How far do I keep the plant from the light?

Thanks, Geoff

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 2:08PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

.... agree with rob. I often mention that plant food isn't fertilizer - sugar is; and the plant makes its own food (sugar) during photosynthesis. Fertilizer is simply some of the nutritional building blocks plants normally take from the soil to use in making their own food and keeping their systems orderly.

Al

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Rob23b(7a)

I keep my plants as close as possible to the grow lights. I think the only danger on getting too close is injury from excess heat. With fluorescent, I would say 2 to 4 inches is a good distance. You will want to adjust periodically since if the leaves actually touch the light they will get scorched. This would not be fatal, but not helpful either.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:21PM
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