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can these cuttings graduate now?

Posted by greentoe357 7b NYC under lights (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 6:20

They tell you to repot most hoyas when they become root-bound. The best-rooted of my cuttings have long roots visible all over the container walls. That's root-bound, I guess. What about those that have only a few visible roots? What's your rule of (green) thumb for when to repot hoya cuttings? Do I need to wait for above-ground growth, or that has nothing to do with it? The best-rooted ones are definitely becoming thirstier, and because they are on a heater, they are sort of difficult to keep properly watered - that is probably as good a sign as any that it is time to repot. Anyway, any rules of thumb are appreciated.

Also, I understand the hot and humid environment of a clear film-covered Rubbermaid container is ideal for rooting and root development, but how do I know when to move my little babies gradually into the normal apartment air where I understand they will be more encouraged to put out stem and leaf growth?

This pic is probably of the best-rooted cutting of them all.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

This one has a bit less developed roots.

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

This final one has shorter/fewer roots still. Which ones are ready for repotting and dryer air? And then I have several/many more in the same or slightly less rooted states.

(This forum is not very active in the northern hemisphere winter, but if you are reading this weeks or months later and have something to add, I'll still be thrilled to hear from you because other hoyas will be in the same situation weeks or a couple of months later, and for general education.)

By the way, Denise, THE best-rooted one of them all (30+) is the H. australis from you. It was the fastest one to push out an unbelievable number of roots, both under and above ground. The lacunosa is slower to root, just like you said. No visible roots on it yet, BUT just today I noticed two new leaves are growing, which I understand means there ARE roots in there. It dropped all the peduncles pretty quickly, but all of the leaves are in place and look great.

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

My personal rule of thumb when it comes to repotting is put it off as long as possible :) just laziness.

But really, these look good and healthy, but I think there is no need to repot just yet. There is plenty of space there for more root growth.

No matter how careful a person is while repotting, there will always be some root damage, so my reasoning is why do it before it is necessary? Healthy root systems lead to healthy plants.

As to your question about the hot and humid, sorry I don't use anything like that, so can't help.


RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

They are rooting well, but I would let them develop a more substantial root-mass before re-potting. Let them go to the point where the roots can hold the entire volume of the mix together, then simply "loosen" the mix and roots a touch when transferring to the next container.


RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Great looking roots you've got going there! That's really interesting looking mix, may I pls ask what that is?

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

I'm sure Greentoe will be back to answer, but in the meantime, Karen, it sure looks to be a Gritty Mix to me. I've had great success with bark and turface in my hoya mixes. Really makes rooting a snap.


RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Look at that! I guess people do read this forum in winter! :-)

> Great looking roots you've got going there!

Thanks, all. These are the best-rooted of 30+ cuttings, so the sample if definitely skewed.

Plus, I had a setback 10 days or so ago. I needed to drain water out of my rooting Rubbermaid greenhouse. Instead of taking all the hoya cuttings out and just pouring the water out like I did before, the smart guy that I am, I wanted to suck all the water with a hose down into a bucket underneath without moving the cuttings pots. You know, because I paid attention in physics and whatever. So I set the Rubbermaid on the kitchen counter and propped it forward with something, so the water accumulates in one corner towards the front of the counter. Then I realized I did not bring the hose, so I went to get it... (Do you see where this is going?) Yep, as I am taking the hose in another room, I hear this giant bang against the kitchen floor. The container took a dive and all the little pots/cups with rooted cuttings inside came crashing onto the tile floor. I guess the "center of gravity" discussion in physics was the one I missed.

The good thing was the cups mostly landed sideways, not upside down, so only one or two leaves broke off and some leaves cracked, but no major damage. Lots of fine root breakage though, I am sure - so these three are definitely not indicative.

And that was the bigger of the 2 rooting containers, with about 18 cuttings inside. And it was about 1 am. Anyway, fun fun fun.

Josh is right, the mix is "gritty mix" by tapla (Al) from Container Gardening forum. Equal parts by volume of pine bark fines, calcined diatomaceous earth (or can use turface) and crushed granite, screened for uniform size and to eliminate dust. Main feature is extremely fast drainage and great aeration that comes with it. Most of my plants are happy in it, and hoyas definitely belong to this group. It's sort of like growing semi-hydroponics when it comes to supreme oxygen availability, except no puddle underneath for the wicking - the bark and turface retain enough water for the roots to use.

Check this out ( for my thoughts of advantages and disadvantages of this mix vs another ("5-1-1") mix Al suggests (5 parts bark fines and one part each of peat and perlite, with garden lime added to adjust pH - think more traditional container medium, but still a big step up from suffocating peat pudding garden centers sell).

Want to try one or both of these, PG? I can share some, and no postage considering we are local to each other.

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Thanks for the explanation Josh, I appreciate it. I thought it might be 5:1:1, tho' I'm not sure I've seen that before or could distinguish visually btwn this mix (Gritty) & that one.

I'd love to try it GT, marvelously generous of you to offer; it just looks so terrific & I can see Hoyas would love it.

I haven't ever tried it, but have been tempted several times. Mostly what's prevented me is having to look for components like bark fines (not sure what that is, unless it's the smaller pieces of bark that comes in orchid mix. I've been fortunate to have a good pumice source for many years, I no longer have it & will eventually run out of the pumice I DO have, so maybe this would really fit the bill.

I could certainly swap you a comparable weight in pure pumice if you'd like some.

Besides, those cuttings from SRQ you enabled me w/ this past Sept. are whispering to me they think this is an EXCELLENT idea. Also a recently acquired variegated Ficus Benj would like to try it too. Ficus are the other areas for which I've been tempted.

Sounds inviting, thanks, I'll EM ya this weekend.

So sorry to hear of the set back crash you had, then again, could be the Hoya cuttings were just showing you emphatically they really are often pretty rugged little things, able to endure various mishaps (thank G_d).

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

> I'd love to try it GT, marvelously generous of you to offer.

Glad to do it. Hoyas and ficus are both good candidates for gritty mix.

> I haven't ever tried it, but have been tempted several times. Mostly what's prevented me is having to look for components like bark fines (not sure what that is, unless it's the smaller pieces of bark that comes in orchid mix.

Yeah, that's it. And yes, finding gritty mix ingredients was a major pain. New York City is not exactly known as a major agricultural center. Granite and calcined DE /turface can be searched by phone/online, but the bark needs to be looked at before buying for sure because not all that's called "pine bark fines" is acceptable and what's acceptable is often not called "pine bark fines". Anyway, that was a major pain. But compared to the time commitment, the ingredients themselves are cheap, so I stocked up and they'll last me a while.

> I could certainly swap you a comparable weight in pure pumice if you'd like some.

I was considering pumice (or scoria) as an ingredient when I needed to repot a bunch of cacti and succulents, but did not find it easily and just used the gritty mix.

What do you use pumice for? Is it red or grey?

> Sounds inviting, thanks, I'll EM ya this weekend.

Yes, hit me up.

> Hoya cuttings were just showing you emphatically they really are often pretty rugged little things, able to endure various mishaps.

Yeah, I know. God only gives my hoyas as much pain as She knows they can tolerate. :-)

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Now you are doing some growing in NYC! Those roots look fantastic! I think I'm going to add bottom heat to mine to get them going. Thank you for starting this post!

I love your mix also. Were you able to get pine bark fines that small or did you cut yours even smaller? Because ive never seen them that small in a store. I was fortunate to grab a bag of "pine mulch" like Puglvr uses while I was in Florida. And it looks great but isn't as small as yours.

Glad you shared with us!

This post was edited by teisa on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 10:19

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Teisa, you are very kind!

I am happy with my experience with bottom heat for the rooting containers. Add artificial light to that, and I hope the cuttings do not even know it's winter. I am not even using a horticultural heating mat - mine is one of those drugstore pads for lower back pain and such. I tested it for days to make sure the temp is not so high as to fry the plants. It's working out well so far, but I do need to watch the temps. There is no thermostat, just a low/medium settings (and high but I never use that one). And I need to watch out for containers drying out on the heat.

For some reason, even mature plants not on the heating pad (but under lights) decided to grow like it's May this winter. I did not voice any objections, and so this outrageous behavior continues. A hoya that was doing nothing at all for more than a year in peat pudding and on my rather dim windowsill is one of those growing leaps and bounds now under lights and in gritty mix. In fact, all 6 adult hoyas I have without exceptions have been sending out new shoots and leaves all winter.

Glad you like how the mix looks, too. I did have quite a ride finding pine bark fines. First bag I bought was useless garbage - totally composted, all dust, very sandy and with lots of clay (the bag did say 'pine bark fines', which is why I bough it). Pots would not drain after just a few waterings with all that fine sand and clay in there, even though there were drainage holes. Crazy stuff. Good thing I realized this after only one plant was repotted, not more. The second bag was better, but too many particles were too large. I hammered them with a hammer, I blended them with blender (not kidding!), next I was gonna try running them over with a car, but before that could happen I found pine bark fines #3. Now, I knew better what I was looking for by then, but it was after visiting a dozen or so BBS'es, nurseries, garden centers et al. and finding nothing of the kind. Fricking full time job! But #3 was the charm (pictured). About 10% was too large (using it for orchids!), ~30% too small (using in 5:1:1 mix!), and the rest was perfect size and perfect quality for gritty mix. Very happy with how it all turned out.

Coming back to my initial question "what now for these rooted cuttings", I am taking your all's advice not to repot just yet. However, they ARE thirsty little buggers and fast becoming even more so with those extensive roots. And the bottom heat makes evaporation faster, too, so I may not be able to keep them hydrated properly at all times. So, I am going to double-cup each little cup (drain holes in all, of course), place them side-by-side into a larger pot and fill the voids with the mix. I described it and pictured it in this thread: It'll help keep roots undisturbed, separate, easily visible for inspections (just lift the inner cup out of the outer cup, then place back). But the mix in-between the cups, which will of course get wet with every watering, will slow down the drying process for them all.

Any better ideas?

My hoyas and I thank you all!

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 3:12

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Im sure that will work for awhile. By the time summer is here I think they will have grown substantially and will be ready to repot. I have tried Something similar to what your thinking of with 1 Hoya. It was a cutting I got from SRQ. It was rather small leaved and planted in a 2" pot. I put the 2" down into a 5" and put potting mix between the pots and on top. I had trouble getting the 2" TALL pots to want to stand up! Thank Goodness most of mine have grown large enough to move up to 4" pots!

I also responded on your other post in Houseplant Forum to maybe try SRQ 4" hanging pots. They are fantastic. Whether you want to hang them or not they have an attached drip tray and are very sturdy.

Would you mind telling me the name and location of the "Pine Bark Fines"?
That does look really good!

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

> Would you mind telling me the name and location of the "Pine Bark Fines"?

I got them here: (for anybody in NYC metro area who's looking). That was last summer, so obviously availability next season is in question.

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

And here is the manufacturer contact info.

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

Nobody expressed an opinion on whether I should move these rooted cuttings out of the humidity container and closer to lights. We went out on a tangent, which is fine because it was interesting in its own right. My thinking was maybe the move will encourage the plants to grow more above the ground rather than below.

Well, I think I got my answer when I was checking the plants yesterday. I am glad I took pictures of all the cuttings when they came in to me. Now I see several whose leaves became darker, lost the reds or venation, which are all signs that light is lower than ideal.

So, those cuttings that have reliably rooted and if they do not need very high humidity, are getting gradually accustomed to normal indoor humidity - I open the plastic cover on that container an inch or so daily till the cover is completely peeled back, then they're out.

I also moved the shelf down to right above that container before I forget, so that future cuttings get more light.

Just growin' and learnin' here, y'all. Posted because maybe some others in similar situations will grow and learn with me. :-)

RE: can these cuttings graduate now?

I needed this moved up to the front so a friend could see how GT has them rooting.

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