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how to provide the best cutting sharing experience?

Posted by greentoe357 7b NYC under lights (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 17:43

Spring is upon us, and with it the cutting gifting / trading / buying season (YES! MORE HOYAS! MORE!!!)

I have some to share, and of course I want to be a good citizen of our community and create conditions where my cuttings are the best they can be for further rooting and growing.

Check out these sequential notes that describe my understanding and questions about the best way to go about sharing cuttings. I'd appreciate comments or your experience.

1. Check the 10-day forecast for the origin and destination locations. If ground transportation, also consider the weather in-between. (What are your rules for delaying mailings due to weather?)

2. Ideally, how many days in advance of cutting the plant should I water last, in order for the cutting to tolerate mailing and to root best? Does it matter? With fertilizer or plain water better? (I fertilize weakly with almost every watering, but I am thinking if the tissues of the cutting are saturated with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, it may be hesitant to push out roots when planted - I think I read that somewhere.)

3. Choose a cutting:
a. Inspect the plant for pests/disease.
b. Use mature growth, not completely tender new growth.
c. It may flower for them sooner if there is a peduncle.

4. Cut:
a. Sanitize tools before and after each plant. (I do not want to use flame to heat up the cutting tool in order not to mess it up. Is wiping with rubbing alcohol adequate?)
b. Prepare the label.
c. How to stop the milky sap mess? Submerge the cut into water right away? What about the other side of the cut? Blot with tissue or something?
d. Tag the name and the bottom of the cutting right away.
e. Take a pic of the cutting. Optional: send pics to the recipient.

5. Submerge all cuttings into soapy water for 30-60 min; rinse. (Even if no bugs found, perhaps this is a good thing to do?)

6. Dry the cutting: how? Room temp? On a paper towel? For how long? (I know Joni puts her cuttings on a drying rack. I'd like to know what that is, what it does etc.)

7. Pack:
a. Layers of packing peanuts on the bottom, in-between and on top of the cuttings.

8. Ship:
a. Trackable.
b. Give the recipient the tracking number.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how to provide the best cutting sharing experience?

Dang, you make it sound complicated, GT! LOL! I have just a few simple rules. First, I cut them the morning I'm sending them - I want them to be as fresh as possible. When or how you watered last really doesn't make any difference, I don't think. There's logic attached to both sides of this issue... If the plant was somewhat dry when it was cut, it might be more likely to burst forth with roots as it's thirsty. If it had been watered very recently, it might be less likely to dehydrate. So I just don't worry about it - in spring, they're going to root fast, period. And I don't really think it makes a lot of difference about fertilizing, either.

I swish them around in sudsy water for a couple minutes, then just lay them in the dish drain rack to air dry for a bit. Tag them, closest to the cut end, pack them up (and I do use the peanuts, too - some wrap them in newspaper), label and mail. If I'm selling them, I use delivery confirmation, but if I'm trading, I don't usually. Trading is about keeping it as cheap as possible. Speaking of which, some of you may not know that first class is just as fast as priority and usually half the price (or less!) - it just needs to be under 13 oz.

Denise in Omaha


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RE: how to provide the best cutting sharing experience?

Nice list of things for people to keep in mind.

I personally am just happy if they can get live plants to me, in whatever time frame they need. And they don't complain too much about how long it takes me to give them my list of available plants. (Note: If you want an expedient trade with me, ALWAYS look at my collection list on GardenWeb and just send me a list of plants you're interested in. It takes way too long for me to check every plant in my collection and list out which ones are big enough at the time you talk to me.)

Here are my thoughts:

1. Check the Forecast

I don't worry about this too too much anymore, since I've received plants from Joni in the middle of the winter, even without heat packs, and they were in good condition. I think as long as there's some insulation and you don't leave it sitting out on your doorstep, most Hoyas are tolerant to whatever exposure the USPS subjects them to. In fact, I worry more about heat, especially when shipping from Thailand.

2. Watering & Fertilizing

lol I never really thought about this. For me it's all I can do to tell people what they can have, find the plants, and get them in the mail. If the people I trade with have to wait for me to set up the ideal pre-cut-watering schedule they might never get anything from me. xD

I think what makes the greatest difference is how far the plant had to travel. If you're getting them from within the U.S. they are going to show up plenty hydrated. I probably wouldn't send someone a cutting if the plant had been recently under-watered and is looking dehydrated when I go to cut it, but as long as the plant's in good condition I think it's fine to cut and send. Plus, if you do a soapy-water soak, the cutting will get some last-minute hydration anyway.

3. Choose a Cutting

Okay, here are my thoughts on this.

Sometimes people ask for a plant that you have a lot of growth to choose from and sometimes people ask for a plant that is still pretty small and beggars can't be choosers. That's why it's so nice developing relationships with people and getting a feel for what their standards are. I personally am fine with receiving a one-node cutting of a plant, if it's something I want and they feel comfortable cutting a smaller plant. That's why when people send me their wish lists, I'll tell them how many nodes I have available of each given plant. Then they can make up their own minds whether they are comfortable rooting that amount, and if the exchange is fair.

Tender growth does nearly always die off, but sometimes you have to send it anyway, because it just happens that all your cuttable vines have new growth. I just don't count it as a node.

4. Cut

a. Sterilization of Tools:

If you use alcohol, you want to clean the tool with soap and water first, and then immerse it in 70% ethanol for around 30s.

You can also flame the tool, by dipping it in ethanol and then lighting the residual on fire.

b. Prepare Label

I don't personally care how people label their plants, or if at all, as long as there is some means of telling what's what. When I first started out and didn't have plant labels yet (lol), I used to just photograph the cuttings, label them on the photo, and send that to the recipient. That way they knew what the cuttings looked like when they shipped and had a record just in case the labels fell off (during transit or during the rooting/potting period).

c. Sap

lol! I just let it bleed out. I would be worried about tinkering with it too much b/c you might introduce new bacteria. I mean some Hoyas bleed just from being brushed against a shelf, so it's just part of life, imo.

d. Tag

Just to be clear, it is standard protocol to affix the label so that when you are holding the cutting upright (growing tip towards the ceiling,) the text is facing the right direction.

5. Pests

Yeah, I think even if there are no bugs, you should soak them in soapy water.

6. Dry the cuttings

I just put mine on a towel while I'm getting the package materials and labels ready.

When Joni says she puts her plants on a drying rack, I think that's mostly holdover copy from the days when she primarily shipped rooted plants. It's not good to ship plants when they're waterlogged, so when you placed an order, she'd remove your plant from the herd and put it on the rack, to make sure it stayed out of the watering cycle. I'm sure now that she ships cuttings she cuts them the same day she sends them, just like we do, and there's no elaborate drying process involved. I'm just assuming, tho...

7. Packing

Yeah peanuts seem to be the go-to insulation for most Hoya shippers. Of course they seem to travel equally well just wrapped in newspaper or paper. I think the main thing is to avoid them moving around. I have one trade partner who always sends her cuttings in ziplock bags with the names written on the outside. I know there's a bunch of archived conversations about how plastic + plants was bad, when coming from overseas, but I can say that her cuttings (shipped from within the U.S.) always look terrific. So, this isn't a bad policy, imo, for smaller cuttings.*

*I meant smaller-leafed species, which tend to be shorter. You know what I mean lol

8. Shipping

Most people prefer to have the package shipped priority mail, with a tracking number, and I always ship that way, because I'm lazy and I like to print the label from work and just have the USPS agent pick it up. But I also have people I trade with who ship it first class post and I receive their package at the same time (or sooner) than they get mine. So if you want to go to the post office, you might as well save yourself some money as far as I'm concerned.

This post was edited by greedyghost on Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 22:25


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RE: how to provide the best cutting sharing experience?

Thanks, all, good thoughts. I'll try to keep it simple. :-)


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