Propagating Plants With Culbac Plant Solution
Every autumn a ritual repeats itself in our landscapes: fruits, grains and vegetables will be reaped from fields and gardens, the foliage on trees will transform into stunning displays of gold and crimson, and the season’s first freeze will deliver a coup de grâce to our tender plants. While many growers resign themselves to the inevitable loss of the annuals which they had attended to all season, some may opt to start and overwinter new plants from their prized ornamentals.
The technique of propagating plants from cuttings is widely used in the horticulture industry, especially for species that may be difficult to grow from seed. Vegetative propagation is also an excellent way to acquire new plants with a certain set of traits since the offspring will be genetically-identical to the donor plant. Additionally, propagating plants from cuttings is an inexpensive alternative to purchasing new seedlings from nurseries.
By following the tips below, a grower can potentially start numerous plants by taking cuttings from a single donor plant.
Most common annual ornamental plants can be easily grown from cuttings, including sweet potato vines, geraniums, impatiens, salvia and coleus. Most importantly, the donor plant should be healthy and free of pests.
Obtain the cuttings
Once a suitable donor plant has been identified, it is time to take cuttings from it with a sharp, clean knife. Do not use a scissors since this will crush and damage cells at the basal end of the cutting. The ideal cutting should be about 3 – 5 inches in length with new growth at the end of the shoot. Prepare the cutting by pinching off leaves from the lower two-thirds of the shoot. Also remove any flowers or flower-buds on the cutting in order to encourage it to devote most of its energy towards the formation of new roots.
Treat the cuttings
While cuttings can be rooted without a hormonal or biostimulant treatment, treated cuttings typically have higher success rate, shorter rooting time and more vigorous root growth.
CULBAC® Plant Solution is an excellent biostimulant for improving the success of cuttings. Prepare the dilution by mixing 1 part of Culbac® Plant Solution with 500 parts of water (e.g. 1 ½ teaspoons of Culbac® Plant Solution per 1 gallon of water). Dip the base of the prepared cutting in the dilution and allow it soak for at least 30 seconds.
Insert cuttings into rooting medium
Once the cuttings are treated, they are ready to be inserted into a rooting medium. The medium should consist of vermiculite, perlite or coarse sand in a container with adequate drainage. The cuttings should be lowered about 1 inch into the medium. Water the medium thoroughly.
Cover the cuttings
To prevent the cuttings from drying out and wilting, they will need to spend the next few weeks in warm, humid environment. These conditions can be easily created for them by placing a clear plastic bag over the container and securing it to the side with a rubber band. This essentially creates a miniature greenhouse.
The picture below shows several cuttings growing in covered pots placed beneath an artificial light. Each pot contains perlite and about 2 – 4 cuttings.
Place cuttings in bright light
The covered cuttings should be placed in an area with bright light, such as nearby a window or under an indoor grow-light. Avoid direct sunlight as this may get too hot and dry out the cuttings. Indoor grow-lights produce a soft light that works great for starting cuttings.
The cuttings will need to be left in these conditions for 4 – 6 weeks with regular watering. Remove any leaves or cuttings which may die or get moldy. After a few weeks, determine whether the cuttings are rooting by giving them a slight tug on the stem. Unrooted cuttings usually lift easily. If some resistance is felt, it is likely that the cuttings have begun to take root.
Plant the cuttings
Once the cuttings are rooted, carefully remove them from the medium in order to avoid damaging the delicate roots. Plant each rooted cutting in its own container filled with potting soil. After planting, water the soil thoroughly and place them in indirect light, gradually exposing them to direct sunlight.
The picture below shows four geranium cuttings after being transferred from perlite to garden soil. As you can see, the stresses of the process may leave them with just a few leaves or even a yellow leaf or two. Regardless, as long as the cuttings have some healthy foliage and roots by this stage, they usually begin to thrive with a few short weeks.
If the cuttings are started at the end of the growing season, overwinter the cuttings in bright window or under grow-lights. By the following spring, the new plants will be larger than those grown from seed.