I have tried to take cuttings from this shrub before, with zero success rate, you can read about it here. I think I tried at the wrong time of year when the shrub wasn’t in active growth. When watering the garden the other evening I noticed that the same shrub has lots of nice new growth, healthy looking material for softwood cuttings. This is my second bash at this.
First off I’ve taken care of hygeine factors. I have cleaned the cutting surface, blades, dibber and pot with kitchen bleach spray.
I also prepared the cuttings compost, a mix of two parts grit, one part vermiculite.
I then cut the stems, taking enough stem to include reasonably firm piece at the base. Each of the cuttings is around 10cm long.
The stems are essentially dying once they are removed from the parent plant, so it’s all a race to get the stem to root before it shuffles off. I went straight to the potting shed to deal with these, but if I hadn’t I would have put them in a damp, clean plastic bag which would have kept them perky. If there’s going to be a long delay, you can even put the bag in the fridge. It has got to the stage now where if I visit anyone I take a few plastic bags just in case they have a good plant I can swipe a few stems from!
I trimmed the base of the stem and cleaned off the lower leaves so that they don’t rot in the cuttings compost. A nice clean stem is what I was aiming for.
Some of the larger side shoots are suitable cuttings material too. They can be gently peeled away from the main stem, taking a heel with it. The heel needs trimming or it will rot.
I put the mixed cuttings compost into the pot and gave it a good watering, this makes it easier to dib the stems in without damaging them.
I got about 15 stems from this batch, all set up in the same square 9cm pot. I’ve given them a good drink and a spritz with fungicidal spray.
I’ve put them in the heated bench, which is well ventilated at the moment, and covered in some shade cloth. Cuttings can easily wilt and crisp up in the hot sun at thistime of year. I am giving the cuttings a good watering pretty much every day, helping to avoid loss of moisture. The vermiculite takes the role of peat which would have been used traditionally, it holds water, but not for long in hot weather. I’m seriously considering fitting a misting unit to the bench this winter. I have the water supply in the greenhouse, I must do a bit of research into how to put one together.
If these cuttings strike, and if I get the resulting plants to survive, I intend to plant one in Border 2 where I’ll train it up the fence so that the evergreen foliage will cover the panel nicely.
Anyhow, these cuttings should root in 4 to 6 weeks, we’ll see. If you try this, it’s very tempting to pot on the rooted cuttings at the first sign of a root appearing at the base of the pot. Don’t! Wait until there are lots of roots, well out of the base of the pot. This is a good sign of a strong root system that will enable the plant to survive the transplating process. I’ve done a post recently on the varied other ways I’ve killed rooted cuttings, you can read it here.
I’ll be back with an update on rooting, or if anything drastic happens!
[update 13-09-17. Well, perhaps third time lucky? These cuttings all died in a few weeks, I binned them, but did not preserve the moment for posterity – so no gory photo. This shrub might be my propagating nemesis. I shall continue to try. I think next time I’m going to try an array of compost mix and conditions, see if I can find the magic combination that suits ceonothus. Sigh.]
Please consider the squeamish amongst us: 🙂 I shudder at the thought of those naked blades, preferring to use surgical scalpels and Milton sterilising fluid. Misting kits cost under £20 on Amazon or ebay and are easy to install. Used to have one in the old greenhouse but haven’t got round to fitting in the new one yet. Some kits are only misters but if you look around a bit you’ll find ones with nozzles that can be adjusted from misting to dripping to spraying or turned off individually.
Still have all my fingers. Keep meaning to invest in a scalpel. Will add to Xmas list. That’ll worry the relatives. Good news on the misting list, will have a look. Suitable project for the off season.
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