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Article 3-2 How to Root Cuttings

Start with healthy, actively growing plant stock:
Plants that are sick, weak, bug-infested or abused are already half-dead and they can't be expected to supply successful cuttings. The reason is that cuttings are cut off from their food supply and must draw on their internal reserves to survive and grow new roots. The fact is, cuttings will go downhill everyday until they have new roots and start to take up nutrients. Clones from vigorous, healthy plants are much better equipped to survive and grow roots than clones from problem plants.

Have everything ready before taking cuttings:
For best results, cuttings should be planted immediately after being taken from the stock plant. Ideally, you would take one cutting, plant it, water it, then take one more cutting, and so on. In the real world, the stock plants are often some distance from the propagation area. In this case, cuttings should be put completely into a bucket of room temperature water away from direct light while cuttings are being collected, then transported to the cloning bench and planted as quickly as possible. Cuttings can be planted quicker - with better success - when all necessary supplies and equipment are in place at the propagation area before taking cuttings. See the information sheet (at end of article) "Before You Cut" first, and use the Propagation Supplies Checklist to gather everything you need and organize your cloning area.

Early morning is the best time to take cuttings.
During the dark period, plants build up their reserves of water in preparation for the demands of the coming day. By mid-aftenoon, water loss from the plant will create water stress in the plant tissues that you would like to use for cutting material. Even a relatively minor water loss will interfere with root development (of course, the terms "morning" and "afternoon" refer to the plant's timetable-often different than the day outside!)

Take cuttings about four inches long:
These cuttings are called "green wood" cuttings: the stem is firm and sturdy, but still green in color. They root easily and have greater survival potential for the average gardener than "softwood" cuttings. Softwood cuttings are best left to the experienced commercial grower - they are smaller cuttings taken from the tips of the shoot, with soft flexible stems. They can root quickly but die quickly too, if not given very special care. Because hobby gardeners usually only need a limited number of cuttings, we recommend "green wood" cuttings for our gardeners.

Trim off bottom leaves and shorten stem to just below a leaf node.
A leaf stem in soil or rockwool will rot - it can't grow roots. To avoid introducing disease into propagation tray, trim off any leaves near the bottom of the cutting. Cut the leaf stem close to the main stem of the cutting. Leave just a tiny stub of the leaf stem attached to the stem of the cutting.

Why? Roots will grow from the node the stem - keeping a tiny stub of the leaf stem on the cutting insures that you haven't damaged the node.

Never tear off the leaf stem from the cutting - you create a long, ragged wound and a welcome sign for disease. We remove some of the large lower leaves for another good reason: the cutting has a limited ability to take up water, until it grows roots. While some top growth is necessary for the cutting to survive, too many leaves on the cutting place excess demands for water on the stem of the cutting. When cuttings wilt badly, and large bottom leaves on the cuttings die off, chances are good that you've left too much foliage on your cuttings.

Dip stem of cutting into rooting gel:
Coat all the stem that will be planted into the grow medium. The gel contains hormones that encourage the cutting to grow roots. Our gel contain B vitamins, which help reduce stress and wilting and keep the cutting healthy while it roots. Gels coat the stem more completely than powders. If it was necessary to dunk cuttings in a bucket of water, try to shake excess water from the stems before dipping them into the gel. Water on the stems dilutes the gel and reduces its effectiveness.

Plant stem into grow medium:
Two points to consider here: we want the cutting planted securely without damaging the stem. Once the cutting is planted into cubes or Jiffy 7's, hold the cube or Jiffy in your hand and gently move it to check that the stem of the cutting is secure. Turn cubes upside down to check that the cutting stem isn't sticking out the bottom. Cuttings that are loose in their grow medium won't root.

BEFORE YOU CUT...
Consider the future use of your stock plant. This will help you decide which branches to use for your cuttings: If stock will grow on (under 18 hour lights), supplying more cuttings later.

  • Use vigorous top. and tip shoots.
  • If stock will be used for flowering or crop production immediately after taking cuttings.
  • Use lower branches.
PREPARE YOUR STOCK PLANTS

Two weeks before taking cuttings:
Use 'Growth Plus' (one capful with one liter water) as a foliar spray - just before "lights out." This will produce vigorous new growth for cuttings.

Be sure stock plants are free of pests and diseases. Clean, healthy, actively growing plants give the best cuttings. Otherwise you just pass on problems to your next crop!

The night before taking cuttings:
Water plant well (room temperature water). Give light spray of 'Pokon' or other mild organic pesticide if needed.

PREPARE YOUR GROW MEDIUM

Rockwool Cubes:
Leave plastic wrappers on 'Grodan' 40-40 Cubes - they keep cubes from drying too quickly. Remove wrappers when transplanting rooted cuttings to potting soil or other grow mediums. Water cubes with 'Power thrive' and water mix.

  • Do not squeeze wet cubes.
  • Cubes are now ready for use.
Jiffy 7' Pellets:
  • Soak pellets overnight (or until fully swollen) in water and 'Power thrive' solution (one teaspoon with one gallon H20). Use room temperature water!
  • Do not squeeze!
  • Jiffy 7's' are now ready to use.
Potting Soils, Vermiculite. Perlite:
  • Fill large bowl or bucket 1/3 full of grow medium.
  • Slowly add room temperature water and 'Power thrive' solution (one teaspoon per gallon H2O), stirring or mixing with both hands until evenly wet, but not waterlogged.
  • Add more potting soil slowly, mixing well (more 'Power thrive-water solution if needed) until enough soil is prepared.
GATHER ALL PROPAGATION SUPPLIES ON PROPAGATION TABLE
  • Set rockwool cubes and 'jiffy 7's' into tray.
  • OR place a tray liner into the tray, fill tray liners loosely with moist potting soil, vermiculite or perlite, until level with top of the tray.
  • Rap filled trays on bench to settle the grow medium.
  • Top up liners if needed.
  • Do not pack potting soils, etc., into liners - leave fairly loose. After planting the cutting, water it well to settle the soil around the cutting and add more potting soil if needed to stabilize the cutting.
  • Bring stock plants to propagation table.
  • Have all necessary supplies prepared and handy.
NOW CUT!
PROPAGATION SUPPLIES CHECKLIST:
  • Propagation tray
  • Liner for tray (potting soils, vermiculite, perlite)
  • Tray cover - short (seedlings, small cuttings)
  • Tray cover - tall (large cuttings)
  • Grow Medium: 'Starter mix' potting soil Perlite and Vermiculite Rockwool cubes: ('Grodan' mm 40:40 cubes are best). Propagation slabs

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