tips on taking cuttings?

meriberi(8b/9a)August 31, 2010

Hi gardening friends -

A month ago I took a stab at rooting cuttings, and have now declared the experiment a failure. They were all supposed to be easy plants for newbies: salvias, rosemary, lantana. I cut them in the cool of night, stripped all but a few leaves and dipped the flexible, growing stems in some rooting hormone before sticking them in half perlite, half vermiculite. Some rotted and some dried to a crisp - obviously I couldn't figure out how much to mist. I had clear plastic covers available to keep the humidity up, but I couldn't tell if they faired better with or without them. I had them outside on a shady porch - maybe it was too hot? Is it just not the right time of year to do this? Or is there something I should do differently?

I would love to learn from your experience, so let me know if you have any tips!

Thanks -

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about the same as yours. had very little sucess rate. joyce

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:21PM
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I have had relatively good experience rooting cuttings in a mix of potting soil and perlite. I make sure I have a "joint" or nub in the soil (this would be a spot on the stem where leaves emerge). I was told this area has a higher concentration of "stem cells" that can grow the roots. I also dip in a rooting hormone and mist regularly, although not as regularly as I would like since I work outside the home. I grow my cuttings inside. I think having the "joint" in the soil (or two of them if possible) is really a key point. I have not tried in just a vermiculite/perlite mix although I have heard you can't leave the plants in that for long. It is also advisable not to have too many leaves on the cutting so the energy will go to making roots, so I have heard. Why don't you give it another try? It might work better next time.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:21PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Keep trying and you will have success. I've been rooting cuttings for a while and sometimes I lose them all too. It may be too hot for them outside right now. I usually bring the new cuttings inside this time of year because they wilt too fast outside and it stresses them.

Woody plants like Lantana and Rosemary are 30% or less success rate for me.

What type of Salvia? The softer the stem the easier. If they have a lot of nodes on the stem that will be easier too. With some Salvias I just cut them off and stick in the dirt right next to the original plant.

Like Tonya, I usually put some light potting mix in with the perlite.

Don't give up, keep trying and you will get there. Last Fall I went to a seminar at Antique Rose Emporium and learned that their success rate on rooting rose cuttings is about 50%.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 2:26PM
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Hi Meredith,
I think that spring and fall would be better, but you can still root this time of year, too. I absolutely HATE to throw pieces of plants away, so I'm constantly sticking pieces into pots of dirt. Some take, some don't. I think that putting plastic covers over plants here in Texas just makes it into an oven instead of an incubator. I keep my cuttings in bright shade and keep the soil moist. I just use regular good potting soil. I usually take off all but the top leaves and if they are large, I'll cut off 2/3's of the leaf. The cutting needs to concentrate on putting out roots, not taking care of the leaves.

Of the three plants that you mention, I've only done salvias, which are my favorite plants. I don't have rosemary, and my lantanas usually drop seeds for babies, so I don't take cuttings of those. I do a lot of rose cuttings, though, and they aren't always easy. Some root with a high percentage rate, others all die. So, just keep trying, and you'll come up with a way that works for you. Don't give up. This is how we learn.

Hope to see you at the san antonio swap !


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 3:44PM
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sam_mcgowan(Z9 TX)

I was up in Tennessee a few weeks ago and brought back two "cuttings" from a "Gardenia" (actually, it's a Crepe Jasmine according to my aunt) that my grandmother planted from a cutting years ago. (By years, I mean YEARS! The plant was there when I was a boy and I'll be 65 in November.) She had already rooted them simply by sticking them in a fruit jar with water that were on her back porch. I brought them home and put them in pots and they're doing great. My aunt, who has been rooting cuttings for decades, tells me not to cut them, but to pull the branches off at a joint. You definitely need to have a joint. I rooted some tomato suckers from the one vine that survived the summer and several of them took root by just simply putting them in water. I pulled them off of the branches rather than cutting them.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 4:12PM
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I've taken several propogation classes and have a lot of success (if you saw my yard, you'd understand). One way which I learned at the botanical gardens, is to mix 1 part vermiculite and 1 part (or a little more) of perlite. You can do you starts in the little six-pack trays. You only want to use a cutting that goes just below the 3rd set of leaves. Cut off all except 2 or 3 leaves and scratch off the stem joint. I've have success with and without hormone solutions. Another way is the same type cutting, but using just a good potting soil. The 3rd way is using the wet floral foam - not the sytrofoam (make sure it does NOT have preservatives). Soak it well then cut it long wise down the middle, flip it over and cut it longwise again. After that, cut it in 2" squares. This works great with woody stems. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:17PM
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What great information on this thread!
All I can offer is that I've had the best luck using a window box planter. It holds moisture in the bottom.

I take long cuttings so I can put them all the way in the bottom. Unknowingly I am probably taking the 3rd joint down.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 9:23AM
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Thanks for all the great tips, y'all! I tried another batch of cuttings, even though it still may be too hot; some are still green, but some have turned all black so I assume they're dead.

The black ones went black from the stem up to the leaves, so that means they rotted, right? Does that mean I'm misting them too much? I thought they'd be drying out really fast right now since it's still in the low 90s some days. I was misting with a spray bottle once in the morning and once at night; they're in half-perlite/half-vermiculite in plastic trays on my covered porch. I can't bring them inside because my cats will mess with them ;)

Maybe I should just try again in October...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 10:12AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)


The dead ones might have been too wet. Even though it's been warm, it's been very humid here so they may not have needed quite as much misting if they were under the plastic. If there are water drops on the plastic, then skip the misting. Getting cuttings to root is about balancing wet/dry and just trial and error.

Right now, I'm trying to get rooted cuttings from a couple of plants that are supposed to be easy to root and I'm losing every one of them. That's how it goes sometimes.

Roselee posted about sealing them in a baggie with a little light potting soil mix that works for her. That's the method recommended by ARE.

See you at the swap.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Hi guys try this website-
hope it helps.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 10:39PM
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I forgot to put a period after the numbers and that site will give you the info on taking cuttings, here let me repost it--

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:00PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am the stick them in some sterile medium and vermiculite in a 4 " pot under an oak tree type of rooter. NO PLASTIC! Some I dip in Hormone and some I don't. I like to wait for my salvias, tecreum, Mexican oregano, Flame acanthus to put on new growth in the spring, but before they bloom. I do not bother with cuttings in the heat of the summer. I did just have luck rooting some tecreums though. I do not mist, I water. Some salvias are harder to root than others. I find that salvia chiquita rots on me. I have great luck with the woody greggiis, salvia reglas Mexican salvias, S chionyphylla, S. officionales, S chamaedryoides. Chiquitas and reglas start from seed so easily. Hotlips like to root early in spring. Mexican salvias like to stay damp not we,.and not dry out. I think they do not like the hormone as much. They will root in clay based humous. In Austin , I used to just stick them in the ground and they would root.I think one can use too much hormone. One wants to dampen and dip just a dusting on the stems. Sometimes I just wet it with my mouth if ..Yuck. Too lazy sometimes to walk in and get a glass of water to dip them in. It is not rocket science. If it was I would not be rooting because I am a slap happy lackadaisical gardener at best.

I have not rooted rosemary. I think rosemary has to be timed specifically. Have you googled rooting Rosemary?? Certain plants have a window in the time of year. some plants will root on semi hard, some on hard wood and some on soft wood. I usually take rosemary branches and scrape the underside and weight them down in the dirt till they develop roots.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 1:17AM
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