Clear gel forming on stems when rooting cutting in water

lsst(7b)February 3, 2013

I have noticed when I root stems in water, the stems develop a clear gel on them.
I replace the water regularly and try to rinse off the gel.
Does the gel help or hinder the rooting process?
What is the gel?

The stems in question are Althea and Confederate Rose.

Thanks in advance!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

no pic.. no opinion... from me anyway ...

how big a blob?? ...

it probably isnt good ...

dad tried rooting rose in water for decades.. i think he rarely had success ... he did much better 'sticking' cutting in mother earth.. and covering them with glass jars .. creating his own mini greenhouse ... but that was old school 30 years ago ... and probably the same thing with althea.. not many woody cutting root in water ...

and that is not to say you might not get lucky.. but you might want to bone up on propagation methods.. should you wish to step to the next level ... michael dirr wrote the book ... see link

all that said.. you have little to lose.. trying it .. good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:08AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

We see questions here over the years about rooting in water. I don't understand. Why root in water?

Even the houseplants that will root and grow in the aquarium don't take well to transplanting in soil. The roses mentioned will not grow in water, will they?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I like to experiment.

I am constantly trying different methods to see what works best for me. I have been experimenting with plant progation for about 12 years.

I will take the same plant and do air-layering, ground layering, cuttings in soiless medium etc. I then take my leftovers and stick them in water just for fun.
I hate to throw anything away! LOL

I then record my results in my gardening journal.
I have had fairly good success with most ways of propagating.

The scientist in me just wonders what the gel is.

I have enjoyed this forum immensely and have learned a lot from everyone here.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:07PM
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I've seen it too. I've also been told by many gardeners who know what they're doing that certain plants are just plain easy to root in plain old water.....of course changed often.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:41PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Could be Pseudomonas or a fungus. In the university lab we often would soak specimens briefly in undiluted bleach and then rinse.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:41PM
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I guess what surprises me is that even if I change the water everyday, the gel returns.

I own a florist and I am beginning to think it may just be the "slime" that forms on the stems of cut flowers.
In my shop, I use special additives to prevent it.

In the past when water rooting, I have used a drop of hydrogen peroxide in the water at water changes. I recently read where too much hydrogen peroxide would inhibit rooting.
I quit adding it because I did not know what was too much.

Albert 135, In the future I will try the undiluted bleach. I would have thought it would have burned the stems.
It you did it in the lab, apparently it does not.

I have had quite a few things root in water and have successfully transplanted it to soil. I have had my failures as well. To me, it is basically an inexpensive way to try to propagate.

Growing up I remember my grandmother always had something rooting in water on her kitchen window sill and I like to do the same thing as it brings back fond memories.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:26PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I guess what surprises me is that even if I change the water everyday, the gel returns.

==>> because the pathogen is on the tip of the plant.. and not in the water..

if it were in the water.. it would be generally dispersed.. not stuck to the end of the cutting.. dont you think ..

and i would dip in 10% bleach.. if you want to experiment.. not 'undiluted' bleach ... and work your way up dilution if you want ... [you might want to wonder if household bleach is the same as lab bleach .. i dont know]

keep experimenting..


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:22AM
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Thank you to the ones that were helpful in your replies.

This post was edited by lsst on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 7:05

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:31PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

To make sure what plants you are talking about, by Althea, do you mean Hibiscus syriacus, AKA rose of Sharon? By confederate rose, I'm assuming Hibiscus mutabilis?

Also curious if you are asking about something that happened in the past?

If the cut end of the stems of either plant was/is too woody and old, it will have a much harder time taking root, especially in water which is much more conducive to rot during the process, and especially if it was cut recently in the cold. For H. mutabilis, I'd try to get a really fat but still green cane. For H. syriacus, I'd try a much smaller semi-woody cut.

I would strongly urge you to try cuttings in soil next time, whether in a pot or in the ground, and to do it from mid-spring through summer. I took cuttings of H. mutabilis in June, from about 18" to about 30", that bloomed in Oct/Nov, they go really fast if the timing is right. Water is not the best method for woody plants like these, that's really a house/jungle/tropical plant thing, even if it often works. There's a much higher chance of failure, especially at a time of year when the plant in question should be dormant, not actively growing.

The jar of water is an extra step over starting in soil to begin with, and has an unnecessary component of pessimism... if it roots, I'll find it a pot or dig it a hole... Go in there with more confidence!

H. syriacus grows readily and quickly from seed, if you'd like to try that also.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:18PM
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Thanks purple,

The plants are Hibiscus syriacus, AKA rose of Sharon and confederate rose, Hibiscus mutabilis.

The Althea is rooting but I have had trouble rooting Hibiscus mutabolis for three years in a row.

I have tried every different form of soiless medium that has been recommended.I just can not get the stems to root!

I did have one Hibiscus mutabilis seed sprout and it is a cute little seedling just having formed its first set of true leaves. I did the baggie method and transplanted it.

What is weird is that I can get things like camellias, gardenias, azaleas and magnolias to root just fine.

It bugs me that Hibiscus mutabilis is supposed to be so easy to root and no matter when I cut the stems or how I try to root it, roots will not form or form long enough for the plant to survive.

I just purchased unrooted stems of Hibiscus mutabilis off the internet. The seller did not advise as to how she gets her to root- I was hoping she would.

The new cuttings are sitting in water. The top and bottom of the stems are turning brown.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:05PM
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What is the best medium to root Hibiscus mutabilis?
Maybe I have not tried them all.
Is there a special recipe someone will share?
I am half tempted to just dig a hole in the ground, stick them in there and see what happens. LOL

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:44PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Lsst, I do cuttings in a mix of finely shredded mulch, some rough home made compost, whatever's handy that is very coarse and airy, so I can water about every-other day without worrying about making mud, causing rot. Are you trying in the spring/summer? What size pieces are you using?

The only problem I see with putting cuttings straight in the ground is that in full sun, they'll probably fry before they take root. If you can use a chair or something to make temporary shade, that might be worth a try but could still be too much ambient heat.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:58AM
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Thanks Purple,

I was just kidding about the straight in the ground method.
It is too cold here but that is one way I have not tried LOL.

I am probably taking the cuttings too late in fall.
My last cuttings were taken mid-October. The sizes are probably not big enough.

The most recent cuttings were sent to me from California, just a few days ago. The seller states they were in a greenhouse. The cuttings are at least a pencil width thick which should be a good sign.

I normally use a peat mixture with perlite.
It still seems too heavy and I wonder if it is rotting the

I really want this last set of cuttings from California to root.

This post was edited by lsst on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 20:10

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:02PM
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