Help rooting blueberry cuttings

mpalermoMarch 19, 2013

I have a few varieties of blueberries that I've been trying to propagate by rooting cuttings. I initially tried putting them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. I waited weeks and nothing happened.

Now I'm trying in a nursery flat with a clear lid. I'm using a mix of 50% perlite, 50% vermiculite. I just tried a batch of above 25 cuttings or so and they show more progress than the plastic bags, but eventually die off. It seems that most of the cuttings (which are from dormant plants) start budding. Some even grow a small amount of new green wood and small leaves on them. I keep the lid on to retain humidity, but I open it daily to let in new air.

Most of them seem to look really good for about 3 weeks or so. Then the small leaves start turning dark brown and eventually all the cuttings just start to die off rapidly.

This has happened to me multiple batches of cuttings and I don't know why. Anyone have any idea what I might be doing wrong here?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

there is a fruit forum. and i rarely see any of those nuts here.. and its a very active forum ... might want to try over there ...

in my mind.. rot is associated with too much water.. and too much heat.. in combo ...obviously.. you need the moisture.. since the cutting have no roots.. but how hot are you keeping them.. a lot of rooting is done in rather cool temps ...

and you dont mention if you are using a rooting hormone.. or if such has a fungicide so as to slow down rot potential ...

finally .. you mention nothing of cleanliness ... when i do such.. i think operating room clean.. and sterilize EVERYTHING before i start.. to reduce the the chances of bacteria and fungus ... 10% bleach on all hardware.. and the link for sterilizing media ..

heres is a setup ... after bleaching everything.. a day or two prior.. i stuck the whole thing in the microwave .. and nuked it until steamed formed.. and then let it cool.. covered for a few days.. and then stuck my plants.. my theory.. is steam forms at near boiling.. and most things are gone by 160 ..... so as soon as the steam starts forming.. close enough ... [thats real science.. lol] ......

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Thanks for the info ken. You're right, I did leave out a lot of info. I thought it would take too long and readers would get bored mid-way so I tried to keep it short and sweet. To answer a few questions...

All my cuttings are placed in a room that has a separate thermostat from the rest of the house. The temperature is set at 67 degrees. I have tried with and without rooting hormone (Bontone). I usually clean all my tools with soapy water. I haven't tried bleach, but it's worth a shot.

A little more info. Inside the nursery flat (with the lid), I have all the cuttings in various containers with drain holes to prevent them from drowning. I always see moisture building up on the lid which indicates that there is definitely a good amount of humidity. I also feel the rooting mix in the containers everyday to make sure it feels moist.

I'm trying another batch now. This time I cleaned the tools with bleach. I also added a layer of soil to the bottom of the container underneath my usual rooting mix. My hope is that if the cuttings have been drying out previously from too loose of a mix, that the soil below it will retain enough moister for the roots. I'll have to wait and see if anything in this batch survives.

Also, when do you recommend removing the lid from the cuttings? I have been getting some new growth and leafing, but I usually leave the lid on to keep it humid, but that hasn't been working out well for me.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:03AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i have no clue about blueberry.. hence the suggestion about the fruit forum ...

i was just giving you some propagation hints.. and now that you add the other 99% of your info.. i see you should be well on your way ...

67 degrees seems a bit cold ... but again.. i dont know on BBerry ...

and there is the air movement theory .... at least cracking you humidity dome ...

but again.. you need a fruit specialist.. IMHO ....


    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Blueberry plants can be started from cuttings in two ways.
Either from dormant wood from last years growth like your attempts or from new Spring and Summer growth.
Take cuttings,about 4-6 inches, in the Winter or early Spring and put them in a baggie with some damp peat moss and keep them at about 35-40F for about 2-3 months.The bottom part of a refrigerator works good.Then when warm weather comes,stick them in a mix of 50/50 peat moss/perlite.Your flat with the lid should work,but keep it out of direct sun,or it could cook them.DAMHIK
The new growth method is quicker,but for me is less forgiving as to keeping the leaves moist.And keeping the leaves moist until roots form is probably the most difficult and important thing for success.
In the late Spring and early Summer,cut new growth that has no flower buds.The growth needs to be not too soft and not too hard(kind of like the Goldilocks story) and stuck in that same mixture as above with all but the top 2-3 leaves removed.Your domed flat may work,but the leaves need to have a film of moisture on them for best results.That means using a misting bottle a lot or other means.
The other ways are to make a misting box used with a propagation timer,that needs to come on for a few seconds every 15-20 minutes or so or a Mist-o-matic/Electronic Leaf.
I have a Mist-o-matic that I bought used and am still tinkering with,which works very well when set up right.
Also,there is a guy who posted a unique way using a pond fogger and simple timer,which I sort of copied and works fairly well.The pond misters can be bought on Ebay or pond supply stores.
The pictures are my pond fogger setup.The link is to the Youtube original. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Blueberry Cuttings with Fog

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:37PM
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I have not done this myself but Paul from back to eden gardens says that you can propagate blueberries like some do blackberries. Stick the end of a growing limb into dirt. The mother plant will feed it and eventually, if you keep the dirt moist you will grow roots at the tip that is stuck in the dirt. Once roots are formed well and you see new growth near where it is placed in the dirt you can cut it away from the mother plant. I think its worth a try and am going to do it with my plants this year.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:34AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I've tried that manylittle,but buried the middle of the branch in the soil instead of the end.I think I may have wounded the part placed in the dirt to promote roots,but it didn't work.
I've had pretty good success with the methods I described above though. Brady

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:49AM
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