How I root cuttings

mark4321_gwOctober 6, 2009

As far as I know there isn't a thread that describes step by step how to root Passiflora cuttings with lots of pictures. Since that's probably in the top 5 questions that people have on this forum I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm hoping to get lots of feedback on this. It certainly isn't the only way to do things. It may have mistakes. I would encourage people to read farther down the posts to see if I or others have corrected mistakes.

My idea here is to follow some cuttings from beginning to end (rooted).

For those who like to propagate things, finally getting something difficult to root is a real achievement and a relief. Sometimes you feel as if there were something lacking in your abilities.

Recently I got first roots on a couple things generally thought to be difficult:

So how does one get from a vine to rooted cutting?

First, getting started. Like anything there are a whole lot of variables that may or may not matter. It's always best to start with a healthy parent and cut from vine of the right age. Generally this means not too soft and not too mature. In practice this varies from plant to plant.

Look for bugs.

Look for buds. It can be frustrating if you cut off your first bud ever.

However before one cuts up any plants it's useful to have everything else set up. I root most things in perlite in clear plastic cups. I use 10 oz cups, which are available at most grocery stores.

For each rooting chamber I use 3 clear plastic cups. One has holes punched in the bottom--the medium and the cuttings go there. Below that will go another a plastic cup, with peanuts in the bottom. This collects water that drains though the container above. It's important to check every few days and make sure water hasn't accumulated at the bottom. Finally, an inverted cup will go on the top to maintain high humidity.

Here are the components of the rooting chamber:

And here are 4 sets of cups with different kinds of media, perlite, and a perilte peat mixture on the right.

The perlite and the perlite:peat are moist of course. You can either moisten it before or after putting it in the cup. Either way, make sure it's thoroughly moist and discard any water that comes through the drainage holes.

Actually peat is hard to moisten. What I would do is put the mix in a plastic bag, add water, and gently and carefully shake it up.

Time to prepare the cuttings:

Here are pieces I cut off of three of my plants. P. 'Mission Dolores' is P. parritae x antioquiensis. The P. 'Sunburst' piece is pretty beat up, which is why I turned it into a cutting. I cut material from each plant up with a separate sterile razor blade:

I generally make 2 and 3 node cuttings. In my experience and that of others short cuttings tend to root better. Plus, one can try more conditions, and the chances are greater you will succeed. Most of us have grown vines before and realize that once they start growing they often go fast. An extra long cutting does not make a positive difference.

I generally cut about 1/4 inch below the bottom node, about the same above the top node. I remove all but the uppermost leaf, and often tear or cut off half or more of the remaining leaf. Tendrils and buds should also go. Depending on a number of factors I often cut or tear some of that off.

Here's the result:

I left the pieces so you could see what was removed. If one removed the pieces that are not attached one gets the following cuttings:

Here are all 3 of the previous pictures all at once. Notice how much of the original material has been discarded:

Next I typically "dip" my cuttings in rooting hormone. This may or may not make a difference. The hormone seems to come in quantities that will last a lifetime. Do not dip the cutting into the container. It will contaminate it, which can lead to all sorts of problems. Plus if the cutting has a short stem it may not make it all the way down.

Gently pour out a very small amount of hormone onto something clean (a piece of paper, for example). Tip the container on its side and tap it with your hand so just a small amount comes out. After using this very small amount toss what's left.

I just touch the tip of the cutting to the hormone. You just want a tiny amount:

Push the appropriate number of holes into the moist media (for example using a pen). Insert the cutting and push the medium around it. This has been done to the one on the right:

Put the inverted cup on the top, tape that cup to the one containing the cuttings and the medium.

Put the cups in the appropriate locations. I put the P. sanguinolenta in the perlite:peat mixture and put it on bottom heat. All of the others can be put at room temperature, in a bright area, but out of any sun. A bright windowsill or under lights is appropriate.

Here are the cuttings--I split the P.'Mission Dolores' between 2 cups, the other types each went into one cup.

Now all that's necessary is to wait. I'll post pictures of the above cuttings once a week.

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Beautiful job, man. Great pics. It's obvious you put some time and effort into this, and I'm sure it is appreciated.

Keep it up.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 7:44PM
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Nice pics and great info. I posted a similar series on Daves Garden late last year. Here are the same pics. I use the Oasis root cubes to root cuttings. I have had great success with them. For example, about 6 weeks ago I decided to try to root some roadside incarnata cuttings so I could have several vines with different genetics. Everything I've ever heard about incarnata is that is doesn't root. Well I had a 50% success rate in 2 weeks with the Oasis cubes. They are easy to work with as well.

Here is a Lady Margaret cutting--three nodes. Note the holes from Gulf Frit larvae. It is very important to inspect the cutting for bugs. If you have spider mites in your area, I would recommend blasting the finished cutting with some canned air--the mites can be difficult to see, and their eggs can not be seen without magnification. I learned this the hard way.

Using a razor blade or utility knife blade trim the leaves and buds off of the bottom node. On this cutting I also trimmed the second node--you could leave the leaf, but the bud has to go. I also trim the leaves that are left on, as the cutting does not need a lot of leaf surface to generate enough nutrients for the new roots. Here's the finished cutting:

Next, I dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder. Like Randy I don't think this is really necessary, but it doesn't seem to hurt either. The cutting is shown next to an Oasis cube (I use the 1 inch by 1 inch). These come in a 20 by 10 sheet of 162 cubes. I usually break them into blocks of 4 to 8 cubes, one block for each species/hybrid. You have to wet the cubes first. Drench them well, and then let them drip until no more water comes out. The top may look a little dry--that is OK.

Here the cutting is "planted" into the cube. The cubes come with a hole, which is sometimes too large for the cutting. If so, insert the cutting to the side of the hole. Sometimes the node will push the foam out of the way on the way down. If so, you need to press in some foam from one of the corners so that the node is surrounded by foam, and the cutting is not loose in the cube. Also, make sure you don't push the stem through the bottom of the cube.

Once you have prepared the cutting as above, it needs to by placed in a humid environment. I use a regular seed starting tray with an 8 inch high humidity dome (for large numbers of cuttings) or a gallon ziploc bag (for one block). This goes under a plant light, and on top of a heat mat with the thermostat set to 80 degrees. The heat mat is not a necessity, but it does speed up the process. As long as the cuttings are not cold (below 70 degrees) they should be OK. Check the cubes daily and water and drain as needed. This cutting rooted in 10 days:

Once the roots come out, I plant the cutting in a 12 oz styro cup. Before I plant it, I remove a little of the foam from the top of the cube. When planting, make sure all of the cube is below the soil at least a half inch. The foam will dry out more quickly than the soil, and this can damage the base of the roots. I put a 24 oz clear cup on top of the styro cup. There are 4 to 8 vent holes cut in the clear cup (some high, some low), each about a half inch in diameter. I usually start with 4, and cut a few more after about a week or so. After the new growth gets going (not more than 2 weeks), I tape some bamboo skewer sticks to the side of the cup, and gradually begin to raise the clear cup (about 3/4s of an inch a day). The clear cup is taped to the skewers. After about 4 or 5 days, the plant will be adapted to normal humidity levels, and the clear cup can be removed, and the plant left under the plant light to grow out further. Once you get tendrils, you can start hardening it off to the outdoor environment (or send it off to whoever you are trading with). Here is a more recent cutting (not the one above) planted in the styro cup, with the clear cup humidity dome.

I hope this helps!
Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 11:16PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Great tutorials guys! I've had great success rooting(other plants) with perlite but haven't tried the cubes. I might have to try them for the harder to root plants.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 7:19PM
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lavenderlilly(zone 5-6)

Thanks so much! I can't wait to get started! I know that everyone appreciates the time you put into this and will look foward to weekly updates! (I didn't know there was such a thing as a rooting cool!)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 6:42PM
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Thanks lavenderlilly. And thanks for reminding me to post my 1 week picture. Actually it was from Sunday night; the photos above were taken the previous Monday.

Only one cutting has a root at that point, and you can't really see it in the photo. It's one of the P. sanguinolenta cuttings. No roots on the others, but all of the cuttings look great. The one possible exception is another P. sanguinolenta, which looks like it will drop a yellowing leaf but be OK.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 10:14PM
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Here are the cuttings after 2 weeks. 7 of 10 have roots (actually 8 of 10, but the roots on one 'Mission Dolores are tiny). All 3 P. sanguinolenta, 1 of 3 P. 'Sunburst, and 3 (4) of 4 P. 'Mission Dolores'

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 6:43PM
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lavenderlilly(zone 5-6)

I am blown away by the progress!!! I really can't believe it! Guess I'm going by my cuttings-in-water-for-2-months experiment.... Thanks so much, again for doing this!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 9:10PM
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I forgot to post a final update at 3 weeks. All but one P. 'Sunburst' rooted:

Here are photos of all the time points so you can see the progress. Ignore the white square:

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 4:55PM
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chena(z8 Texas)

Here is the original link I found that works best for me..

This works so well!!!!

Posted by msbatt 7 (My Page) on Wed, Apr 25, 07 at 13:13

I've had the most success in rooting passies using florists' foam ('wet' foam) as my rooting medium. Soak the foam for 10-15 minutes, then cut it into small cubes no more than an inch on a side and place them in a shallow tray with enough water to come half-way up the sides. Cut your passie cuttings into two-node cuttinggs, snipping about a quarter-inch below the bottom node. (Note---it's EXTREMELY important to be certain the 'bottom' node is actually the rootward end, and it's EASY to get confused with passies---always work from the tip down, just to be certain.) Carefully remove the bottom set of leaves, and I usually rreduce the size of the leaves on the top node, too. Dip the bottom end in just a touch of rooting powder, and insert them into the foam until the bottom node is just barely below the surface. Place the tray in bright but indirect light, and keep the foam moist at all tiimes. Once you see the roots coming through the foam, they're ready to pot up. As the roots grow, they'll break down the foam by themselves

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 1:45AM
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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

Wow, Randy!!!!!!!!!!!! This is incredibly helpful! I'm blown away at how many of these rooted and how quickly they did it! I'm so totally gonna try your method. It seems simple enough for sure. Thank you so very much for doing this and continuing to post follow up pictures of your progress. It's very detailed, which is exactly what I needed.

I have a few questions for you. How often do you need to remoisten the perlite? Which ones did you use plain perlite medium, and which ones did you use the perlite:peat medium? Have you noticed any difference in success rate with one versus the other?


    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:24PM
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Hi Angela,

I did pick ones that I knew would root fairly easily as examples. The perlite should stay moist as long as everything is sealed. If it dries out the cup will start to feel light and/or the chunks will become loose on the surface when tipped. I use 100% perlite for almost everything. The things that I can think of offhand that I use a mix for are P. sanguinolenta (I'm not sure why) and P. membranacea and Clianthus puniceus. I'm not sure if it makes a difference, except that for things that are prone to rot it's probably best to leave out the peat. Very young growth in particular is more prone to rot.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:48PM
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Thanks so much for this awesome thread!! Yep, newbie to these beautiful flowers/vines and not succeeding at cuttings at all. I have made my cuttings so arbitrary, too long, too many many mistakes, potting soil, ugggh. So I luckily have some perlite that I seldom use!

The inclusion of photos on this thread really hits a home run!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:38PM
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