Source Neil Sperry – Texas Gardening
Almost any plant can be ‘Cloned’ by Propagation using the correct procedures and rooting soil.
Here are a few (Edited) FAQ’s from Neil Sperry’s Texas Gardening radio show. Broadcast on radio station WBAP, Forth Worth / Dallas, Sundays 8 am – 10 am central time. You can get Podcasts of the Neil Sperry Programs at the website link(URL) http://neilsperry.com
This is a very north Texas dedicated program, however most of the information he provides can be easily adapted to almost any garden no mater where in this big old world your garden is located.
Plant Propagation – FAQ’s
Question: What time of year is best for taking cuttings?
Answer: Those cuttings that are made in late winter, just before the burst of spring growth, are called “hardwood” cuttings. “Softwood” cuttings are taken during really active growth spurts, and “semi-hardwood” cuttings, the most common type, are generally taken in late spring or early summer, as the current season’s growth is becoming somewhat mature.
Question: What kind of rooting medium do I need to start cuttings?
Answer: It will vary a little, depending on the types of plants you are trying to start. It needs to drain well, yet it will need enough organic matter to hold moisture around the developing roots. If you do not have access to a greenhouse rooting bench, you should probably use a mix of half peat moss with half perlite. In a greenhouse mist bed you can use totally perlite.
Question: Can I ever use water to root my cuttings?
Answer: It’s usually not best. Roots that develop while a cutting is submerged in water are not physiologically the same as roots that are produced in potting soil. When you eventually take those cuttings out of the water and plant them in the soil, they’ll be set back much more than similar cuttings that have been rooted in potting soil.
Question: How do I take leaf cuttings?
Answer: Plants such as African violets, Rex and other fancy-leafed begonias and some peperomias are started from leaf cuttings, where one single leaf has the physiological ability to reproduce roots and more leaves. Select mature, healthy leaves, and cut them cleanly with a sharp knife. Insert several such leaves into a pot filled with loose, highly organic potting soil, and keep them moist until they form roots and develop new clusters of leaves.
Question: How do I graft plants? How successful am I likely to be?
Answer: Budding and grafting involve taking dormant buds or small stems from a plant of known merit and causing them to grow together with rootstocks of another variety. Fruit trees, pecans, grapes, ornamental pears and plums, roses and other plants that do not root easily from cuttings (or that need the vigor of some other type of rootstock) are started this way. The main problem for amateur plant propagators is that your first 100 buds and grafts will probably not be as successful as the next ones you do. Speed is a critical issue here, so you don’t leave the tissues exposed very long. What may take you 15 minutes the first time you try, may honestly only take 15 seconds once you’re skilled. If you want to invest the time and practice it takes to get good at budding and grafting, and if you study the comprehensive books and Extension Service fact sheets showing you how to do it, this is can be fun and rewarding. Otherwise, it’s probably best left to the folks who will devote the time to get good at it.
Question: What plants are grown from root cuttings, and how do I take them?
Answer: Blackberries and other bramble berries can be started from root cuttings, where a portion of a major root is cut into sections and replanted. It will regenerate stem and leaf tissues, so one root can actually yield many new plants.
Question: How long should stem cuttings be?
Answer: Cutting lengths will vary from 3 to 6 inches, depending on the species involved. (Commercial propagators with access to mist or fog houses will use surprisingly tiny cuttings of soft, succulent new growth.) Choose only healthy wood, and take care to keep the basal portions of each cutting identified. If you accidentally try to root cuttings upside-down, they will fail to grow properly.
Question: I’ve heard that you should cut the sides of the stem cuttings to expose more tissue for rooting. How do I do that?
Answer: That’s a process called “wounding.” Use a very sharp knife to remove a thin slice up one side of the base of the cutting. The wound should probably only be 1/2- to 1 inch long. Turn the cutting over and repeat the process on the other side. Be certain that you only remove the outer bark of the cutting with each wound, barely exposing the cambium layer beneath. That will give you much more exposed surface area on which new roots can form than if you simply insert a freshly cut cutting into the rooting bed.
Question: How can I tell when my cuttings are rooted and ready to be potted?
Answer: Pull on them very gently. If they offer slight resistance, they are beginning to form roots and will soon be ready to be dug and potted. If they are firmly rooted, you’ll be able to tell with that gentle tug. Timing for rooting will vary with species, time of year and the conditions under which you’re rooting them. Some types may form roots within a few days, while others will take many weeks, even months.
Question: Should I use rooting hormone powder for stem cuttings?
Answer: It’s not essential, but it can speed the rooting process and it can help the cuttings produce more roots. It’s not advisable with soft, succulent cuttings such as impatiens, begonias or coleus, but it’s almost a must for woody things such as hollies and junipers.
Question: What do I do with my cuttings after they’re rooted?
Answer: Pot them into individual pots filled with a high-quality potting soil. They may wilt somewhat for a few days after transplanting, so be prepared to protect them from hot, sunny conditions until they have adjusted. With some plants, you may want to stick several cuttings in each pot. Low, dense shrubs can be handled that way, but groundcovers especially will benefit from having fuller transplants when they go into the garden.
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