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#Propagation: A Race Between Root & Rot?

When you love a plant it is always worth experimenting to see if you can make yourself more. Or make the one you have even more lush & impressive. We have a little experience of this so here are our highlights.

The miraculous thing about plants

is that some cells can, at any time of the plants life, can become any other part of the plant’s structure if stimulated to be so. #adventitiousrootformation describes the roots that form from any structure of a plant that is not a root. This can be part of the normal development of the plant (#crassula ovata for example propagates itself by naturally dropping healthy leaves & stems) or, as in this case, due to a stress response. In this case root formation from the excised stem cutting is a response to that wound.

When & How?

Unless you have special equipment the best time is in spring when the sap is rising & your plants coming into growth. When taking a cutting always use sterilised equipment & work on a clean surface with clean hands. You are creating a wound so you need to avoid introducing any bacteria into it as it is the quickest route to failing. Choose a healthy section of the plant & cut it just under a leaf node. If there are currently leaves in place here remove these. If there are none look for eye structure on the stem where a leaf has been. Then place the cutting aside. This always feels a bit harsh to us & the instinct is to put it straight into the medium. Resist. Leave the wound to heal over. How long this takes depends on the plant. For something like #ficuselastica it may take up to an hour for the sap to stop flowing from the wound & a scab to form.

The Medium & the Method

Then prepare your rooting medium. There is a fashion for #waterpropogation & you can buy lots of 'special' kit which to do this. It is fun. You can see the roots developing through the glass; an impressive process. The issue with it is there is a point where the plant will get used to living in water & adapt appropriately as all plants have ancestors who were aquatic. If you want to keep it in water for its life time you can. But there is an art to this too so most of us don’t.

If you intend to grow your plant in a pot (which is easier) then propagate it where you want it to live. Fill your pot (small is better than big) with your growing medium, water & then make a hole in the centre to accommodate your cutting. Our instrument of choice here is a wooden chop stick. Some people recommend rooting hormone here but we find this unnecessary. If you do everything else right your plant will want to grow. Place your cutting into that hole so that enough stem is below ground to keep it stable. Firm your medium round the base of the stem & place it where you intend to leave it to propagate.

The best place is in light conditions which suited the parent plant. To avoid rot keep watering to that which is strictly necessary. The trick is to give it enough to keep it alive but not too much, when it has no roots, to kill it. This is easier if you place the plant in propagator. You can create a mini one for it by placing a plastic bag over the plant securing it in place round the base of the pot with an elastic band. Make sure that no part of the plant touches the bag or it will rot. This will ensure that the atmosphere around the plant is very humid & that water lost from the leaves during photosynthesis can be reabsorbed by the plant at night through its leaves. But keep a close eye, too long & too damp & mould & rot will appear.

You will know you have succeeded when you see new growth appear & then you will feel a ridiculously proud as if you have become a goddess or a god with the power of creation itself.

Go :) Try & let us know how you did?

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