Sunday, February 14, 2010
Asexual Propagation From Cuttings
Asexual propagation (AKA Vegetative Propagation) has many advantages. Most importantly, it is a way to ensure an exact genetic copy of the parent plant. It is also a fast way to a mature plant and makes it easy to share plants that are not ready to be dug up and divided. For some cultivars, this may be the only way they can be propagated. The most common methods of asexual propagation are cuttings, layering, grafting, budding, separation and division. Some methods are better suited than others for the propagation of certain plants. Growing plants from cuttings is easier than most people think. A cutting is a small section of a plant that is severed from the parent with a sharp knife and usually treated with a root stimulant to encourage growth so it will regenerate into a new plant. Cuttings can be a portion of leaf, stem or root. Stem cuttings are most common and they can take the form of softwood, which are cuttings of new growth, semi-hardwood, which are cutting of new growth later in the season after it has hardened slightly, and hardwood cuttings, which are taken when the plant is dormant. When taking the cutting, cut off three to six inches and most of the leaves and all flowers or buds. This insures the plants energy will go towards root development. Cuttings root best when placed in a sterile rooting medium such as coarse perlite or vermiculite. An even better medium would be an equal mix of perlite, vermiculite and peat moss to enhance moisture retention but still be loose enough to allow roots to easily develop. A mist bed that sprays a fine mist of water over the cuttings many times a day is an excellent option. If one is not available, you can start the cuttings in a pot or shallow rooting tray. Moisten the medium and insert the treated cuttings with at least one node below the surface. Place a clear plastic bag over the cuttings to increase the relative humidity. This decreases moisture loss and still allows air circulation. Check often and loosen plastic if condensation develops inside, too much moisture will cause your cuttings to rot. Place in bright but not direct light and do not allow them to dry out. Tug gently after 2 or 3 weeks, if you feel resistance, the cutting has rooted. Dig them out; do not pull and plant in soil in individual pots.