Pressing Reset?

Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady LakeOctober 12, 2013

I have been curious about an aspect of propagation by cuttings. What effect does this have on the longevity of the new plant? For instance, one of the touted bonuses of propagating cuttings is that you don't have to wait years for the plant to mature, a real bonus when dealing with fruit-bearing plants. But what about plants that have a short life span? An American Elderberry is supposed to be a short-lived shrub only lasting a few years. If you take a cutting from an Elderberry during the last years of its life, will the new plant have only a year or two or will the new set of roots give it an extension on life?

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There are many aspects to this topic, and the real answer is pretty complex. Cuttings from many types of plants get reinvigorated when they are removed from the parent plant and propagated. Some types of plants will even possibly revert to a juvenile form. There are some that will almost always revert to a juvenile form, some that almost never will, and some that are dependent upon various factors. When the plant material is reinvigorated, and possibly rejuvenated, it's life span is typically increased. Some vegetatively reproduced cultivars are many centuries old.

Although cuttings may seem to have their age "reset", it's not a perfect reset. Genetic mutation (often small and unnoticed on a short-term time scale) and acquired pathogens are some factors that would seem to limit how long a plant could be kept alive through vegetative propagation. I was planning on going into the mutation topic a little further, but am finding it overly complex to cover with a reasonable amount of typing. Maybe I will write more later or someone else will cover that more.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 10:57PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Well, to save you or someone else from typing out a chapter from a University-level book of propagation and mutations, I will just take the basic answer of, "It depends on the species of plant" and run with it. Though I'm sure it would be an interesting read. If I ever get to the point where I'm actually trying to develop certain mutations, I will have to go look for some books on the subject, but for now, for my current state of experience and knowledge in this area, the short answer works quite well. Still... you should know that you have piqued the interest of my geeky side and I will probably end up looking up more information on the subject before the end of the day.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 8:30AM
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