Easy Propagation Methods 2

johnva(Z7 TN)December 16, 2005

Inspried by Jamie's "Easy Propagation Chamber" I decided to show you my methods :)

I use wick watering and grow under lights so my process is designed to fit those factors.

First I'll start with the wicking method:

You need the following: a 6 inch pot, a covered plastic bowl, and a nylon cord.

The cord will be pulled through the bottom of the pot and through the top center whole of the bowl lid (when you start using it). This picture is just to illustrate how it all fits together once you start using it. Keep in mind the cord just hangs out the bottom while the seeds and cuttings are getting started.

To start off, the cord is put in place in the pot with about 6-8 inches hanging out the bottom. The pot is then filled half full with potting mix and the wick placed around the other side of the pot as shown. The pot is then filled with soil to near the top. When starting seeds I leave about an inch of space below the top of the pot. With cuttings it doesn't matter.

For starting seed I use a plexiglas cover over the pot until the seedlings hit it. Once they reach the cover I remove it and attach the wick and bowl under it. Here is an example of some new seeds comin gup.

This next pic is an example of some tip cuttngs of Balloon flowers I took when they got too tall under my lights.

These cuttings are 4 days old and are being grown under a plactic 100 CD cover to keep the humidity high.

This last pic is some 10 week old Balloon flower seedlings using this method. They are grossly overcrowded but at the moment I have no place to transplant them to so they will just have to survive :) The above cuttings were taken from them. I do have several buds on them already.

Note the wick in the bottom of the plastic bowl.

One lesson learned is don't put too many seeds in. :)


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Awesome instructions - thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 10:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

Hey, John! This is wonderful! I would never have thought of this, and I don't know of anyone around here who has done it. Did you come up with this method?

Would a cotton cord do as well as a nylon cord? I don't know how the nylon cord brings up the moisture, as I can't imagine it absorbing water. Is it not supposed to absorb it?

I am going to try this this very weekend, after all the frivolity is over. Thanks!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 11:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Janie, This is my method although I'm sure many wick water. It is not too widely used to my knowledge. Wicking solves several problems. It provides the even moisture that most plants like and it serves as a buffer for those who sometimes forget to or can't water every day :)

I use nylon because it doesn't rot like cotton will. The best type I've found it the soft kind used for tieing things in backpacking (Walmart) because it is somewhat soft and has a softer center and seems to wick much better. I use a fire starter lighter to burn mine in two when I measure it to length. I have a couple of pots with the hard nylon cord and the center of the pots is not getiing enough water :(

Minimum length is about 30 inches, Too long is better than too short. I am also trying wicking on some of my orchids I am tired of watering every day and it seems to be working well :) I just pulled them out, wrapped the cord around their roots a couple of times and put them back in the pots.

Let us know how it works for you?


    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roxy77(Houston Z9)

your balloon flower seedlings look great! I've never had success with balloon flowers, maybe I will try this method.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 11:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Thanks Roxy.

Janie, here is a pic of wick watering with the hard nylon clothsline type cord. Notice that the plants in the center are not getting any water and that even the ones on the outside of the pot are not very healthy due to lack of water.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2005 at 1:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

I pulled the above plants out of their pot, along with the companion pot with a hard nylon cord today. I was amazed that both were very dry except for the area within about a half inch of the cord.

I tried taking the cord off the first one, big mistake. It pulled about half a dozen plants along with it. I replaced both cords with the softer parachute cord type and immediately noticed a difference in total soil wetness.

On the second pot instead of removing the cord I just cut it right inside the pot and wrapped the new one around the soil ball and put it back down in the pot. It immediately wet the whole soil ball :)

In considering the amount of water these pots are taking each day, in order to provide that water quantity I would have to water several times a day with lots of wasted run off. With the wicking system the plants just take it as they use it, which is perfect!


    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
soundgarden(z8/ New Orleans, La)

This is cool - Right now I have some cuttings starting in one of "Jamie's Chambers"

I'd like to try this method as well. I just have one question. You said that you remove the plexiglass once the seedlings hit it and then attach the wick and bowl under it. So you don't water with the wick and bowl until after they germanate?

I also don't understand what you mean when you say that you use a lighter to burn it in two when measuring. Is this to keep the ends from unraveling?

Do you ever reuse your cords?

Also, do you put any type of fertilizer or rooting hormone in the water?

Is there a way to do wick watering with hanging plants? For me, those are the biggest pains in the arse to water,

Thanks, I'm looking forward to trying this method for seeds.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 5:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Hi Annie,

I put the wick in the pot when I prepare it for seeds. I use wet Promix BX for soil. No additonal watering is needed with the plexiglas cover in place over the pot. Once the seedlings touch the plexiglas cover I remove it and attach the water bowl under it. From then on all water comes from the wick and bowl. Wick watering works awesome for seeds! Look at my pics!

With cuttings I follow the same process, I just use a 100 CD cover over them until they root and start growing. I also spray them with water when I plant them, before putting on the cover, to inhibit wilt!

If you are growing the hanging backets for sale it would be easy to leave the bottom off and use a wick until they are ready for sale, then cut off the wick, attach the bottom and away you go :)

One suggestion would be to put a small clay pot in the center of the hanging basket with a sealed bottom hole and fill it with water daily so the water could seap into the hanging basket. The major problem with watering hanging baskets is overflow.

I water with a solution of 20-20-20 (1 teaspoon/gal) and Superthrive under lights. My regular solution is 1 teaspoon/4 gal in the greenhouse.

Yes the lighter seals the ends of the cord, works great. The cords can be reused.

I have 3 sets of Balloon flower tip cuttings I'm working on now with this method.

John Va

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 7:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Hi Annie,

Here are some 19 day seedlings from seed planting date:

And these are 7 week seedling:

The 19 day ones are about an inch tall and the 7 week ones about 3-4 inches. All are white double balloon flower seed from a friend in MI.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
soundgarden(z8/ New Orleans, La)

Those look awesome! One problem with watering from the top is that the soil splashes out if the dirt is too high, so this method would be great to prevent those types of problems.

Every plant I've ever killed is from not watering enough or root rot, so this method should be a dream come true for me.

Thanks, Annie

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Correction on the wicking cord. I bought some more at Walmart today :) It is Braided Polypropylene and was right next to the tent pegs in my Walmart, $1.47 for 50 ft, either Camouflage or Utility (white).

My thirstest 6 inch pot is now close to a quart a day, maybe because of all the buds coming.

I planted some foxglove seeds today, will see how they do :)


    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 5:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Binky(z5 WI)

Thanks so much for sharing!!! I've had almost no luck with propogation, but your system sounds very promising. I printed out the type of wick cord - braided Prolypopylene to bring to Walmart tomorrow. I'm so excited!!!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nance(6 KY)

I am so impressed with this method but I have one question. What ia the second hole on the lid for? Middle hole is for pulling through bottom of pot. I got all my stuff and don't want to mess up now.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Nance, the second hole, the one close to the edge, is for refilling the bowl :) Now don't kick yourself :)

Center hole: wick takes water out; outer hole: you put water in :)


    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 11:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If your lower container were opaque, your wick & container would be less likely to develop algae. Also, some fabric stores sell wick material.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Hi Baci,

Both of ur statements are true but...

I like being able to see how much water the plants are using and being able to see them as I fill them. I use a watering wand from an overhead plastic bin to gravity feed them :) (another simple but effective innovation :) So far after 6 weeks I am seeing some little flakes of algae but nothing major so far.

Also the PRICE of the Walmart cord is going to be very hard to beat and it works perfectly!


    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nance(6 KY)

No I am not blonde but the question sure sounded like a blonde joke...lol I already set up 10 pots to try this. Thank you.
Nancy from Ky

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Hi Nancy,

I am sure we will all be excited by your great results :)

I am wondering what I am going to do with all these balloon flowers and waiting to see how the foxgloves come up :)


    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 12:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So cool. thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 9:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Well the foxgloves came up in 4 days but they sure are skinny things so far. They are an inch high now and on their second set of leaves. Guess I have a long wait since I read 6 months to flower :)


    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 9:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

Just a follow up on my origianl post. The last pic in that set was my overcrowded seedlings growing in the 6 inch pots. I have 3 sets of them which pretty much take up a 2x4 foot light shelf by themselves.

Two things are happening. Several of them are blooming and others have buds. All of them are long with multiple branching and several are hitting the lights.

Also several of the plants on the outside have been crowded down to the shelf and are shriveling up. I checked the soil in the pot and it appears wet to the touch so I guess they have become self limiting. I am hoping for a lot of roots I can replant at a later date so I really doubt I am losing them permenately. Time will tell.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 12:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donna_rae_kc(6 KC, MO)

Hi John,

A tip I learned from Growing Growers (an organization here in KC to develop local area farmers) for nice sturdy seedlings is to lightly brush the tips of seedlings daily. This strengthens their stems, makes them stockier and helps them acclimate to life outside in the real world of breezes and winds. Haven't tried it myself but visited a farm that followed this practice and swore by it. You can use your hand, a dowel rod, 2'x2', etc. depending on the size of your seed beds. At the farm, they used a 2'x4' rigged up to sweep the length of the bench that they would raise as the seedlings grew. If you decide to try this technique, I'd be interested in your results. Thanks.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 6:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nyssaman(Z6 ON)

Is there any way to do this with one big watering container rather than with containers under each pot?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 2:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

A fan blowing air across them does the same thing. Yes I've tried it and it does work :) All you really need is plant movement to force strengthening of the stem. That is one of the purposes for those large fans you see in big commercial growing operations.

Yes it can be done very easily. Just use a shallow container and put multiple holes in it for the pot wicks. I was thinking one of those 2 foot by 3 foot under the bed plastic containers, but I'm sure there are many options. I will probably do something like that the next time I do seedlings.

This time I was just fooling around with Balloon flowers and didn't realize how well they would do or how quickly they would bloom.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 6:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nyssaman(Z6 ON)

John the plastic containers are exactly what i was thinking about I ll have to try that.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 6:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnva(Z7 TN)

I have 32 blooms today, what an awesome display!


    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 6:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi JohnVa,

I came across your explanation of wick watering today. Even though your explanation was clear it was confusing to me because the images were missing. I am one of those who need to see to fully understand. Would you be kind enough to repost with pictures?

Thank you.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 12:05AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Israeli Ruscus from a bouquet
I have six stems of Israeli Ruscus from a bouquet;...
Can Budwood be too small, or thin?
When grafting should I try to obtain close to pencil...
figbear (8b coastal carolina)
Why do some daffodils never increase in numbers?
(This has been cross-posted.) I'm really confused with...
Trying to propagate for the first time
Propagating is completely new to me. I have an astilbe...
Amy Biondolillo
Avocado tree from a seed
If I cut the sprout of my avocado tree from the seed,...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™