Rock Garden Quarterly Spring 2012 - (Page 118)

Vegetative Propagation Understanding Cuttings Mike Bone ONE OF THE most frequent topics I am asked about is rooting plants from cuttings, and I’m slightly apprehensive as to where to start. There are so many different stories of abysmal failures, but then there are groundbreaking successes. So, let’s start with what actually happens to the plant. For a cutting to root, what needs to happen is that the cells in the stem of a plant need to stop being stem-tissue cells and start being root-tissue cells. That is the basic premise, and, when you can wrap your head around that, the rest of what you need to do just starts to fall into place. The process goes like this. You (the propagator) cut a portion of stem away from the connecting vascular system of a plant. That system has been moving water and nutrients from the ground, up through the plant to the leaves. But this is not purely a one-way trip. The plant uses that water, full of nutrients, mixes it with sunshine to create energy, and sends it back down to the crown of the plant and into the roots to grow. Simple, right? Well, yes, but now you have a piece of plant (your cutting) that is no longer connected to this system of transport so you had better hurry up and do something with it. The environment for cuttings I often like to think, that if you give the cutting all the opportunity in the world to make the right decision to root, it won’t let you down. To continue this thought: while you create the best environment for roots to grow, you also need to discourage vegetative and floral growth. That will usually mean keeping the air cool while keeping the soil warm. Tricky I know, but that is what you need to do. Think about where the root is - in the soil. This rhizosphere (the soil environment around a root that is directly affected by the root) is a quite complex environment where many exciting and mysterious things take place, but let us now simplify what we expect from our propagation rhizosphere. What is important to a root is darkness, moisture, temperature, oxygen, and the ability to move around and get to the nutrients and water . Obviously much depends on what you (the propagator) have 118 Rock Garden Quarterly Vol. 70 (2)

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rock Garden Quarterly Spring 2012

Geoffrey Charlesworth Writing Prize
2011 Photo Contest Winners
2012 Photo Contest Announcement
Seven Unheralded Axioms of Rock Gardening
Rock Gardening from Scratch: Vegetative Propagation - Understanding Cuttings
Newfoundland's Southern Limestone Barrens
William J. Dress, 1918-2011
DNA and the Changing Names of Plants ... and Making Sense of the Dicots
Jennings Prairie
Carl Gehenio, 1922-2011
Rock Gardening Roots
Plants that Dazzled me in 2011
Phipps Conservatory
Rock and Ink Struck into Flowers - A Response
Bulletin Board
2012 - Eastern Study Weekend: October, Pittsburgh - Registration form and details

Rock Garden Quarterly Spring 2012