Monday, April 29, 2013

Pelargonium cuttings (aka: zonal Geraniums) have Roots!

Many enjoyed my blog post on propagating Pelargoniums.  Do you want to see some results?
We have healthy long roots.  Time to pot up this baby up and give those roots some room to spread out!
First I put a bit of Perlite in the bottom of the pot for good drainage, about 1/2 an inch in depth.
Add your potting soil.  You can see the size difference between the pot I took the plant from (right) and the new one (left).  The roots are going to love that room to spread out.
It looks happier already.  They will stay in the greenhouse to get settled then I will acclimate it to the outside as soon as I know the nights will stay out of the frost zone (normally that is the 3rd weekend in May but this year we are out of sync and everything is blooming a month ahead).
All cozy on their shelf in the greenhouse.  This week I shall put them out on the back deck in the shade then return them to the greenhouse at night, in case it drops in temp too far for their comfort.
I have done this with some ivy geraniums too, they are taking a bit longer to root.  We shall see how much longer. 
The petunias I did the same time as these geraniums rooted even faster.  Now to build my raccoon proof planter!
Happy Planting

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Layering for propagating Wisteria, Japanese Maples etc

 I love plants.
I love free or nearly free plants even better. 
I find it enjoyable to learn how to propagate (unpatented) plants to expand my garden so I am constantly reading garden magazine, websites and blogs. I test out the techniques in my own garden.
Growing from seed is a wonderful way to start annuals and some perennials but some perennials can take years and years to bloom from seed. 
 This post is on how to Air Layer and Ground Layering to get new plants from plants like wisteria and Japanese maples (these are just two examples, this method can be used for enumerable plants)
 Definition of layering: Layering is a propagation method that encourages new roots to form on branches still attached to the parent plant. The parent supplies the layer ― the new plant ― with water and nutrients during the rooting process.
First I will show Air Layering.  Air layering is most successful when the plant is actively growing, like now in Spring and Summer.

Step 1: Gather your Materials
 A sharp knife
Something to tie with, I use old pantyhose cut in strips.
A planting medium that retains moisture well, like sphagnum moss, coconut coir, or I use potting soil mixed with perlite.
A form of plastic to wrap with. I used a produce bag cut open and in half.
Rooting medium (not shown)
The Parent Plant below, a lovely wisteria with fresh new growth.
Step 2:  Wound the plant
With a sharp knife, make two parallel cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart around the stem and through the bark and cambium layer. Connect the two parallel cuts with one long cut and remove the ring of bark leaving the inner woody tissue exposed.
Some say when you cut thru the bark and scrape it back you expose enough of the layer below the cambium to be successful in rooting.
Step 3: Tie on bag
Below the wound, tie on the piece of plastic.  You will be creating a pocket with it.
Pretty, it is not but it gets the job done.
Step 4: Fill pocket.
With one hand kind of wrap the plastic around the wound and hold while filling with the soil (moss, coir) in the pocket create, make sure it surrounds the wound.
Step 5: Moisten soil
Pour water into the pocket of soil to moisten thoroughly
(you can pre-moisten the planting medium (soaking the moss for several hours is recommended if you use that or the coir) and maybe next time I will be sure the pre-moisten my mix too, I think it may work better.)
Step 6: Close up plastic
Once you have the soil mix well moistened close up the pocket made of plastic and tie above the wound.  To make sure there was good contact with the moist soil and the would I tied another strip around the middle of the pocket.  I made sure to tie the branch to the trellis, the pocket of soil adds weight.
Step 7: Shield
Finally, wrap with foil to block direct sun from over heating the pocket.  It may take months for roots to form but keep checking on the moisture level of the soil mix for the duration, it is best not to let it dry out.  Check after a few months to see if the wound callused over, if it has it will not produce roots.  If it forms a callus it means the cambium layer was not peeled back  enough to expose the inner wood.
Here is a link to an excellent YouTube video of air layering. 
Soon I will do a post on Ground Layering.
Happy Growing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rooting Lilacs and roses aka: Semi softwood cuttings

This is a reprint of an old blog post I did in 2011 for those of you that missed it the first time, it compliments my last post on propagating Pelargoniums aka: soft wood cuttings.  And the title of this post should say Semi HARD wood cuttings not soft.  An off moment there..

 Awhile back I stated I would do a post of how I root cuttings. I have a neighbor that has an old lilac bush that she was told is called a 49’er Lilac. It supposedly came West with the 49’ers in the Gold Rush. (or it’s parent did) I have admired this Lilac for the 13 years I have lived in my little cottage. In the spring I will sit on my front garden step and wait for the lilac fragrance to drift my way on the morning breeze and delight my senses. Here is a few blossoms I trimmed from it this year.


I prepare my propagation box. I use a wine crate and fill with my own mixture of 2 parts compost (I get this from a local company that composts garden debris on a huge scale, it is similar to potting soil you buy at a garden center), 1 part perlite and 1 part sand (I am sure there are better mixtures but I used what I had on hand and I have had success with this in the past).

I have recently read that play sand can contain salt and may not be a good one to use, sharp sand is reputed to be superior for this use.

The crate has slats on the bottom but there are wide gaps between the slats so this drains very well. I have it sitting on the gravel floor of my greenhouse in an area that direct sunlight will not hit but it still gets plenty of bright light. I will fill the box more with my potting mix until it is nearly full.


I will use this fish tank as my cover to create a small greenhouse effect.


Now back out to the Lilac to get the cuttings.

I choose the new growth I want to cut from and choose some about 8 to 12 inches long.


I take quite a few cuttings, the more I try to root the better my chances are of getting some to actually grow for me. I know I may lose some to fungus or who knows what. I had to wait for the right time to take cuttings (or so I have read) and this is the right time for this type (semi-hardwood).
I haul them all to my greenhouse and begin. First I strip most of the leaves from the cutting. I dip the ends into the rooting medium.

Now this medium I have had for awhile and it says it only has a years shelf life but I have kept it in the refrigerator to extend that shelf life so I hope it is still potent enough to do the job. I should invest in some fresh stuff soon.


I have a small paint brush in the jar as well. The jar is not deep enough to cover all of the stem I need to be covered with the medium so I use the little paint brush to finish the job.


See the nodes on the stem, that is wear roots begin and I want a good portion of nodes below the potting soil.


I also take some rose cuttings for the hey of it. I normally like the roses to be a bit more hardened off than they are now, like later on in the Fall. I have had more success that way, these softer cuttings while the bushes are blooming succumb to fungus more often than the later cut ones but I thought I would give it a go just for the fun of it.


Now that they are all dipped and thoroughly coated with the rooting gel I stick them in the potting soil mixture.


I place the far enough apart they do not touch each other and away from the edges so they will not touch the glass of the cover. I should take off more leaves, the leaves tend to be where the fungus starts but for photo purposes I will leave them on, easier to see where the cuttings are. After placing all the cuttings in the box I carefully set the cover over them.

You can see there is room around the fish tank where the potting soil shows and that is how I water this without having to lift the tank. You don’t want the soil very wet just damp, if it is too wet you drown the poor cutting or encourage the fungus.  Also prop up the tank a bit to let air flow in.


And here is the results …a lovely new rose from a cutting..

A lovely lilac…I think it takes 3 years for them to bloom.   We shall see.


I have just read up on a new (to me) way of rooting semi softwood cuttings.  I am going to give it a whirl and report in with the results in a few months.

Happy Planting.

ff By Stephanie Lynn  It's Overflowing

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Propagating Geraniums or Cloning


With life being what it is lately…as in rather all over the place, I failed to start my pelargonium seeds (aka: zonal geraniums).   So what is a flower lovin gal to do??


Clone what you have…mine are all non-patented from seed so no infringement here.

 The benefit of cloning is you get the exact same plant as the one you love where seeds may have cross pollinated and you never know what a seedling will look like. 
First you start with a nice healthy plant.  I overwintered some of mine in my studio and upper bedroom window. 

Take a cutting from a fresh green branch just below a leaf node. Cut with something clean and very sharp, like a razor or xacto knife. 

See, fresh green branch.


Old crusty branch…this is not what you want..


Make sure you have some potting mix ready to load up your freshly washed and sterilized little pots with.  My mix is half potting soil (Ace brand) and perlite. 


These are 3 inch pots, you can use smaller or even the Jiffy pellets work well, I have heard though I have not tried them personally.

These have all been washed in hot soapy water with a touch of bleach, then rinsed well and air dried.


The cutting should be about 4 or 5 inches long and leave two healthy leaves on them.  When you put the stem into the dirt make sure two leaf nodes are covered by the soil mix.


Water well and press the soil firmly around the cutting.


Put a clear lid on your tray to maintain moisture and keep at a moderate temperature and in bright light.  I have mine in the greenhouse but you can put them under lights in the house as well.

You can also tent clear plastic sheeting over the top, just be sure to prop it up away from the cuttings.  You do want air circulation so don’t seal it.  My domes have little holes in the top for air.

Here is my petunia cuttings done the same way under their clear dome roof under grow lights in my dining room.

Hopefully they are putting down nice strong roots and will grow, and grow.  I will fill my hanging planters and my house will be festooned with lovely bright petunias and pelargoniums all summer long.


And here is my latest work in progress…she will be lovely as can be once I am done. 


Come back to see her all gussied up. So now, I am off to paint signs in the studio, I have quite a few orders to fulfill and need to get to work!

Until next time, I wish you sunny skies and mild temps.

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