Help! Can I still salvage my cuttings?

vvesper(7TN)May 27, 2010

Ok - I know willows are supposed to be easy to root. I got about 7-8 cuttings from a friend's giant pussywillow back in March. I put them in water, and 6 rooted. I let the roots develop a little, and about the beginning of May, I potted them up ever so gently, using potting mix, and put them in a sheltered location outside. Several of them were sprouting little leaves at that point. Well, after just a few days, the leaves on all but one were dried up and dead. I've kept them all watered, and I thought the one was going to do ok--when lo and behold, those leaves wilted and dried, too! (in one day!)

Is there any hope for these? I did not think I had let the pots dry out. In fact, I think I kept them quite well watered, as I know willows like lots of water and they rooted originally in plain water.

What do I do now? I really only want one shrub - but I really want one! Can I still get these to root? Should I keep watering them? Put them back in plain water? Dump off the potting mix and check for roots? Stick them in the ground instead of in potting mix?

Thanks in advance for any help!

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If you give the cutting a little tug is there resistance? Are there any new white roots? If there are it may re-flush, if not it probably won't make it. The problem with rooting things in water is the roots that are there are not really feeder roots...they are more anchor roots. They can take up water but that is not their primary job so they are not very efficient at it. You need to really protect the root system and moisture at the roots until root hairs develop...then the plant will be tougher and be able to survive on its own. If there are root hairs and they look white and healthy then you might be ok.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 3:04PM
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I will check tonight for any roots. I haven't tried tugging on them, as I didn't want to tear off any baby roots. Always the conundrum... But at this point, I don't think I have anything to lose by tugging gently or by maybe gently dumping the dirt off one of them to check for roots.

This is actually why I rooted them in water isntead of soil - so I would be able to tell when they got roots! LOL I will have to try floral oasis or something next time. I don't know.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 3:13PM
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Normally, when I root willows, I just stick them in soil and let them root. I do a hardwood cutting (no leaves in the middle of the winter) about 4-5 inches long and put a scratch on the bottom of the cutting. Dip them in Hormodin 3 rooting powder and stick them in a sand flat. Very little if any mist...just irrigation to keep the base of the cutting moist. They normally root quite easily. If you are just doing this at your house for the fun of it...I have seen people do the same thing only sticking the cutting in the ground where they want the plant to end up. I have seen where people take a branch and jam it into the ground and it roots. You just need to keep the base of the cutting moist and you should have success.

Keep us posted. A pic would be good too if possible.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 8:00AM
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Thanks! Yes, I'm just doing this for myself to get one shrub. I tried gently tugging last night. The one that most recently had leaves did seem to have some resistance. A couple of the others had a little resistance, I think. Some of them had none. I just left them all in the pots in soil and watered them again.

So we'll see what happens. The only woody cuttings I've ever done before were some forsythia branches I got last fall. I stuck them in the garden bed and kept them watered. They bloomed this spring and are now putting out leaves (all but one, which didn't even bloom). So I have good hopes for them. I'm not going to try to move them until they put on some real growth - maybe this fall.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 8:51AM
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Good thinking...let me know how they work out. I am interested.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 9:22AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Plants rooted in water are difficult to transfer to soil. It's common to lose them at that point.

To increase success, move them as soon as you see the roots start to barely break out of the plant. You have to plant them very gently, because it is very easy to break the root off.

Better to simply start them in soil. You don't need to see the root. When the cutting roots, you will see baby leaves appear on the plant.

Willows don't like dry soil, but they don't like to drown, either. Damp soil is what you want, not wet. I suspect that you are over-watering.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 3:09PM
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Ok - so baby leaves are the sign that it has truly rooted? I will keep an eye out - and I will try to be sure I'm not overwatering. I wouldn't expect them to be too wet in our heat outside in 6" pots (even in the shade) - but I haven't been checking the soil before watering, so anything is possible. I'll keep a closer eye on that.

Since the original leaves that were sprouting when they rooted in water have all shriveled up - how long might I expect it to take IF they do sprout new roots and leaves? Any idea?

I'll let you know what happens. Thanks for all the input!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 1:17PM
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