09 August 2008

Propagating Root Cuttings

The Avant Gardener reports the resurgence of propagation by root cuttings. This is a method I have not yet tried but will experiment with now that Thomas Powell reminded me about it.

What has been your experience with root cuttings? Have you tried it yet?
Powell says it is the easiest and most reliable method to increase your stock of woody and herbaceous perennials.

By the way, do you know what a herbaceous perennial is? Russell Studebaker, former horticulturist for Tulsa Parks and garden writer for the Tulsa World, clarified it for me over lunch one day.

Plants that come back the next year are perennials. (Annuals are plants that come up from seed, live to produce next year's seed and then die.)

Woody perennials leave their stems above ground over the winter. Herbaceous perennials leave no trace. They are the ones that make gardeners say, "Oh, look it came back!" and dance with glee the rest of the day.
Green stemmed perennials (as opposed to woody stemmed) are the herbaceous ones.

So you have a perennial that you love and you would like to make a few clones of it for next year either because you enjoy a challenge, would like to save money, or, both.

POWELL'S TIPS
-Take 3-to-6-inch-root cuttings the thickness of a pencil near the stem or trunk, late fall to early winter. The end nearest the trunk is cut straight across. The other end is cut at an angle.
-Immediately plant cuttings horizontally, one-half inch deep in flats.
-Woody root cuttings must remain moist, cool and receive no more than 50% light in a shady spot.
-A planting mix that contains 50% worm castings in the planting mix is known to improve healthy roots and growth.
Not all plants are good candidates for root cutting propagation. Have you tried any of yours? Would you try this method with any of the plants you want to make more of?
LINKS ON MY SEARCH (many repeated the same info so the duplicates are left out)
Stem cutting propagation information from North Carolina State University, with tips and techniques for home gardeners.
Take cuttings from newer root growth. Make cuttings 1 to 4 inches long from roots that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter.
Cuttings should be taken during the dormant season. Cut straight through the end of the root closest to the stem. Cut the other end on a slant. This allows you to remember which end is the top (the straight cut) and which is the bottom (the diagonal cut).
Store cuttings from dormant roots for 3 weeks in moist rooting medium at 40 degrees F. Remove from storage and plant upright in the growing medium.
Keep moist and warm, in a bright location until growth and weather permit acclimatizing to the outdoors.
If root cuttings are taken during active growth, skip the storage period and place cuttings directly in the rooting medium. For smaller plants, take 1- to 2-inch sections.
Place cuttings horizontally a half inch below the surface of the rooting medium. These cuttings should be handled indoors or in a hotbed.
The fine roots of many perennials are used for propagation.
Root cuttings of some variegated plants will lose their variegation.

2 comments:

belinda said...

Hi Molly....thanks for stopping by!! Yes...the year I put up 450 pints from the garden was a HOT & HUMID one. The little house we lived in at the time only had a evaporated cooler a/c in it. As most gardeners know..if you only have a small garden..keeping it picked can make it seem like you have a much larger garden than you do. WE keep ours picked and we give alot away to some of the older folks in our community. I whine and complain ( just a little )on some days I can't seem to do more favorite things than doing the veggies, but wouldn't really trade any of it. I told my hubby today " the only real part of this "prairie life" I want is the quilt making part!! We are big time plant lovers too!! For years we ran and owned 2 greenhouses. Still have one at our house. Being in a greenhouse early in the morning...nothing like it!!!

Martha/All the Dirt said...

Pretty amazing what we do. At least those of us who love the garden and the kitchen.

I'm not any good at the sewing thing so at least you have another hobby to distract you.

We give away hundreds of pounds of produce every year. A burden and a blessing, as you know.

Oh, you have a greenhouse? I want a small one but only to raise butterflies in, away from their predators.

I whine A LOT and give you permission to increase yours to a louder whine.