Coast redwood cuttings turning yellow

popmeer2November 24, 2011

I have some Coast redwood cuttings in soil. The softwood cuttings were taken from a healthy tree 2 months ago.

They were doing very well: four inches of new growth in just a couple of weeks! However, the last couple of weeks there has been no visible growth at all. The tips of the leaves on the new growth are turning yellow.

They are in a plastic container with a constant 80% humidity. Artificial lights (CFL) are on 16 hours per day with no additional natural light source. I don't expect heat to be the problem since the 65w CFL (6400k) is at 1 ft distance from the top of the container and the temperature is between 68 and 70 degrees all the time (measured directly under the containers lid)

I read that yellowing leaves can indicate that the cuttings in fact have rooted...that would be good news. These cuttings are precious to me, so I don't want to pull them out to check....

What is happening to them and what can I do to help them?


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


i use plain fluorescent lights... have there been any studies about CFL's???? what the wattage on yours [ i see 65 watts]???

when i do seed and cuttings.. i try for about 2 inches from the plant .. with a bank of 4 three foot lamps ....

i am wondering if your one foot is not close enough with a bulb that is not powerful enough ..

all that said ... i dont see yellow growth.. i see young lighter green growth .... which may not have had time to darken.. especially if the light level is low..

i have no clue how to measure such ... peeps used to have photometers for cameras in the olden days.. lol ... [like a few years ago] ...

i am wondering.. why the plant on the right is leaning so heavily... that is usually an indication that it is leaning toward the light ... if there was sufficient light.. it wouldnt need to lean ...

can we have a pic of the whole gizmo???

in general... gently grab the cutting.. if it pulls straight out.. no roots ... if there is resistance.. or the soil starts to come with it.. that indicates there are some roots under the media .... just dont maul whatever roots there are in the media ....


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 8:21AM
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Hey Ken!

It is difficult to see in the picture, but the tips of the new growth leaves are turning yellow.

Trust me, the cuttings look much worse in real life ;-)

I found an old light meter, like this one :

It shows no significant reading at 1ft distance. So you are probably right about low light level being a factor.

By the way, here is a picture of my setup.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:07PM
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Yeah, Ken's right: Fluorescent is great light for plants but these bulbs don't have much "throw". They need to be close.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 5:22PM
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How are the cuttings doing?

I'm also wondering what you've stuck them in, and whether it contains perlite or something similar?

At any rate, good luck with these plants!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:26PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you have not been fertilizing a mineral deficiency is perhaps your problem.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 4:12PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Ron, cutting soil NEVER may contain any kind of fertilizer!
It will make them lazy in producing roots.
The next step is to repot the rooted cuttings into another soil which MUST contain a fetilizer to continue furthur growth and a healthy colour...

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 6:00PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Edwin, that's the way I was taught, and that's the way I do it.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, no fertilizer until they have roots.

"Cool soils, low in initial fertility, are conducive to root growth..."


    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:06PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Need for nutrients does not shut down when cuttings are removed from parent plants and stuck in rooting medium, then start back up again after roots are formed.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:16PM
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I moved the light closer to the cuttings and they have indeed started to grow again, but at a very slow rate and some leaves are still turning yellow...
But that's ok as long as new growth emerges, I guess.

They are in a high quality potting soil, but no perlite or something similar. I know this is far from ideal...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Enhanced later growth (of some other kinds of plants) resulting from slow-release fertilizer applications during propagation was discussed by C. Whitcomb in Chapter 1 of Plant Production in Containers (revised 1988 edition).

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:26AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, low in initial fertility is the key.
Obviously you don't want to burn or inhibit growth, but a light charge of nutrients should be
available once the plant/cutting can effectively make use of the nutrients. I almost always
include some Osmocote in my mix for that very reason: the nutrients won't be heavy up front,
but they'll be there when the plant needs it.

I wait approximately two weeks to begin fertigation after re-potting a rooted plant, as well.
This phase of low initial fertility apparently helps with the re-establishment of roots
in a new volume of soil/mix.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 10:34AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

That's not the point I got out of it, rather that you don't want gaps in nutrient availability - including during the rooting phase.

"It" being various discussions of container plant production, not just the one chapter in the one book.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 2:35PM
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