Hydrangea cuttings - 45 days, no root at all

snasxs(7-8 VA)September 28, 2008

Oh well, can you help me? I am having trouble rooting hydrangeas.

I love my neighborÂs huge sky-blue hydrangea. So I went over and cut 2 long-green branches in mid-August. The two branches did not flower this spring. I know because the others are still having flowers on top and bent toward the ground.

I stuck them into a pot each and placed them in an empty fish tank. I place them indoor in east window. At some point, I was lost, so I actually watered both pot without realizing what I was doing. The consequence is one of the stems appears black on the outside. I pulled it out, it is still firm. I can still see 2 green knots with leaf-buds in-between the black rotting tissues.

It is already 1.5 months now. I pulled them out today. There is no root at all. What can I do?

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They need to be in well drained soil for rooting. I use a 50/50 mixture of coarse potting soil and builders sand or vermulite and keep them just moist. Even after roots appear, too much moisture will cause them to rot.
I have had success rooting them, after soaking in water for a few days, placing them in a sealed plastic bag.
If your rooting medium is saturated, you may need to remove the cuttings and place them in a drier environment, but don't allow them to dry completely.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:27AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Thank you for the hint Rb. I know you are right because I rooted plants before. My practice is that I use a stick to create a hole in the potting soil. The soil is rather moist but not wet/saturated. The stem does not really touch the soil. The hole is slightly larger than the stem. I know the stem can grow roots in the gap of air near the soil.
(1) Could rooting indoors (without cool nights) cause failure? I hear these grow best out-doors. So I do not know if this might be a factor.

(2) Can roots grow from the blackened skin? Or should I cut the stem shorter to the green part. The blackened section is still firm. I can see two sects with green leaf-buds that are fine. The stems in between have somewhat rotted skin though.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 1:08PM
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They root faster with a small amount of exposed foliage, but it really isn't necessary. I've always rooted mine in a shady outdoor location, so I don't know if a dark or low light environment will prevent roots from developing.
The roots will emerge from the bud nodes along the stem, not from the internode stems. As long as the bud nodes are unaffected and the stem isn't decayed, they should be fine.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 6:36PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

You said: "The hole is slightly larger than the stem. I know the stem can grow roots in the gap of air near the soil. "

Not so. The potting mix must be lightly firmed around the stem.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 1:03AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Jean, thank you so much!

That is new information to me! So the mix must be lightly firmed around the stem for the roots to grow? Is there any reason for that?

I hope my 45 day old stems can be saved!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 1:13PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

The reason is that roots won't grow in air. Nor will they pass through an air gap to get to moist soil/potting mix.

If the stems are healthy, they'll most likely be okay. Only time will tell.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 12:22AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Hmm, so the reason is "roots won't grow in air". I am kind of suspicious now. Have you tried my method before, especially under glass?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 10:29AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

If you have plenty of humidity, you can grow roots without potting mix. I've even had stems develop roots wile in a vase of cut flowers.

That said, I suspect you want to ultimately plant the hydrangea into the ground, or at the least into a pot.

If so, the roots grown in high-humidity air, or in water as mine did, would die. And the hydrangea would then have to grow new roots which are adapted to a solid growing medium.

So growing them in very humid air or water to begin with only wastes time.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 11:13PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Ok, Jean,

I have placed them into lightly moist vermulite last week.

They still have a lot of leaves and the center growth look good and growing. They are in a fish-tank indoors in east window. The temperature is 70 constantly. The environment is very humid. They receive bright indirect light all the time.

This week, I touched both slightly. They have no resistance whatsoever. So I gently pull and they still have no root.

Is there any other factors? It is already 2 months.

To compare, the supposedly more difficult Azalea has already rooted for 2 weeks. I have already moved the Azaleas out. They are doing great. This Azalea has single and small flowers. But the flower is tomato red. The whole shrub is a delicate red and green in the spring. I like it so much. I never see anyone sells this type.

But what is the problem with my hydrangea?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 12:32AM
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I went to a hydrangea propagating forum at the Aldridge Botanical Gardens in June. Mr. Aldridge who donated his estate and hydrangea gardens to the city, is the discoverer of the Snowflake hydrangea and others. He suggested we take 8 inch tip cuttings in June, put them in vermiculite, keep them shaded and moist. In 2-3 weeks he adds a 1/2 teaspoon of Osmocote. They gave away cuttings and I successfully rooted a PeeGee. I had better success by layering about 10 limbs but I will try again next year.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 9:40PM
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hayseedman(z5/6 Ct.)

I think Jean is absolutely right about firming the soil around the cutting. I do a little pinching of the soil around the cutting to make sure there is some real contact with the soil and the cutting. That is how I learned from a very professional gardener.

I don't know first hand, but I've also read what Jean is saying about roots that grow in water not being the same kind of roots that grow in soil. I don't know if it's really true, but it seems reasonable to me and so I act like it's true. Part of my reason for believing that it should be true is that one of the easiest ways to kill a plant is to overwater it so much that the roots are constantly wet. And at the same time I can put a cutting into a glass of water and it will grow roots and survive for a long time.

I've had much better luck taking cuttings much earlier in the season than you. Like in June, not August. That could be a factor. And I'm wondering if your cuttings might be too long. One or two nodes under the soil and maybe one above.

I've taken cuttings in the late Fall, just before a freeze and put them away under bags of dry leaves with the rest of my overwintered Hydrangeas. They didn't put on any root growth by the next Spring, but still, over the next summer they developed a very strong root system.

If I were you, I'd get some rooting powder, put the cuttings in a pot and place it outside and cover it up with some leavesfor the winter. Then put them in a bright spot next Summer. But not directly exposed to the sun.

Then be patient.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:12AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

100 days later -

Weeping, wiping tears ... I cut one top-section into a shorter stem. I placed it into firm soil. It has died now. It completely blackened and shriveled.

I kept the bottom half. The bottom stem is back but with green buds. I am keeping it.

The other one seems to be resisting my pulling now. But it looks like the black skin has climbed up, and up , and up  when the blackness passes a node, both leaves fall off.

Now, only the top two leaves are still living. The others shriveled and blackened.

This black magic of Hydrangea ... geesh, who says rooting Hydrangea is easy?!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 5:50PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

120 days later -

Today, I pulled out the other stem without much expectation. To my surprise, I saw a lot of roots in the middle section of the stem. Yah!
Now, the problems are:
1. It is dormancy time. What should I do with this stem?
2. I grow it indoors. Is it possible for them to thrive indoors? What should I do?
Thank you for your help and attention. It is a very beautiful large sky-blue one.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 3:20PM
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Late to the party, but I have successfully rooted quite a few hydrangea plants myself so I thought I would share. Like someone else already said, try use soft wood cuttings instead of hard or semi hard wood cuttings. We are in more or less the same zone, so you can try taking cuttings in early June. I choose big healthy looking stems that will develop terminal buds but hasn't yet. I cut off the top with 2 pairs of full size leaves. Strip the bottom pair, cut the top off the top pair. Dip in root hormone and stick it in rooting material. Cover with plastic bag or bottle and keep it in a shady area indoors. They will root in no more than 2 months. I usually plant mine out in September and keep them in bright shade for the first year. Usually I get lots of blooms in 2 years from cutting.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 7:56PM
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