Propagating tips for an arid climate

david52 Zone 6July 4, 2011

I enjoy propagating all kinds of plants, and just recently stumbled upon a fairly simple technique that eliminates all kinds of problems.

First, I use larger pots and stick multiple cuttings in them - its a lot easier to maintain the correct moisture range than small, individual pots. These are cuttings from buddleia

And then, using two containers from those 1 lb organic salad mixes from Safeway, we have us a high-humidity chamber ....

So, prep the sterile potting soil by getting is moist, check plant for bugs and eliminate as necessary, make cuttings, dip in hormone, insert in soil, mist, cover, leave covered for 2 weeks as they get used to the regime, take off the cover and wait 4 more weeks, and most of these things root and off they go.

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Dan Staley

I like that doubled container bit *slaps forehead*. I'll use that PDQ and will pull stuff out from recycle PDQ. Thanks David!


    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

OHHH! Duh! I missed that when I read it the first time! Was wondering where the "container" with the TALL top came from! It's TWO put together!!! DUH! Do you fasten them any way, or just be careful to not knock them off?

I know you have great luck propagating stuff, David! Do you do a lot of woody stuff? Do you try to get more than one leaf joint below the soil? Do you/have you ever done lilacs? I ask 'cause a lot of people around here are always looking for lilacs at the swaps, and if that works for lilacs, I can refer people to this thread when they start asking how to do it again. I haven't tried hardwood cuttings for a LONG time, but never had much luck when I tried it in the past! Do you just stick them in moist soil and leave it like that, or do you saturate the soil before you cover them? May I assume you keep them in bright, indirect light until they start to root? Do you do your 'Jackmanii' like this? Do you do roses like this???

And I know you've talked about propagating petunias before, but I don't remember, do you do them from cuttings? And if so, like this--or how???


    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 6:42PM
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david52 Zone 6

It doesn't seem to be that crucial to get a good seal between the two - in fact, I'd guess a bit of circulation helps. You can see condensation on the tops in the mornings.

Generally, I try for just one leaf joint / node below the soil. I'll get the potting soil moist to begin with, then pour maybe half an inch of water in the bottom of the container so the pots can soak stuff up from the bottom. Its pretty easy to keep it at the right moisture levels, you can see the soil start to pull away from the sides if its getting too dry - maybe add half a cup of water once a week. Contrasting this with the 2X daily routine when the cuttings are in 2 inch cells.

They're in bright, indirect light. I've done roses, all kinds of woody stuff, but never lilacs. I got all of mine from the Soil Conservancy :-). I dunno why it wouldn't work - they seem to have the most growth hormones in the early spring, so that would be the time to try.

Clematis are my nemesis, at least so far. With this covered technique, I'm (fingers crossed) keeping far more cuttings from drying out longer, and may have the first success here shortly from some cuttings I started in May. Clematis, they say, roots on inter--nodal cuttings, not the nodes, although when they describe the systems for layering them in the garden, they say use a node. So who knows.

Petunias are pretty easy - just snip off 2", dip in the hormone, into a pot, mist a few days, and they usually root in 3 weeks.

Its all good fun -find something that works well in the climate zone, and make a lot more of them. It really helps with the perennial flowers that have a 5 - 10 year life span.

I've been using something called "Clonex" which is comparatively expensive to the powdered rooting hormones. The powder works fine. However, this stuff would put roots on a 10 inch nail.

This year, I've done dozens of agastache, mums, petunias, perennial asters, dianthus, salvia, and hopefully, 4 kinds of clematis.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 7:13PM
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Dan Staley

I did a lot in CA when I had the business, free plants for the next job or the next one. That Clonex isn't that much stronger than some of the powders...wonder why it works better for you? Aside but related, I did some pruning work recently and some of the trees were very old fruit trees, going to try and air layer them to keep them going - amazingly tough trees.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 7:20PM
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