A Comprehensive Guide to Plant Cuttings and Successful Propagation

A Comprehensive Guide to Plant Cuttings and Propagation

 

A Comprehensive Guide to Plant Cuttings and Successful Propagation

What is propagation?

What is a plant cutting?

What do I need for successful propagation?

What is a mother plant?

When is my mother plant ready for plant cuttings?

Why should I take plant cuttings?

How to take a cutting from a plant

Step one

Step two

Step three

How to care for cuttings

I want faster roots!

A Comprehensive Guide to Plant Cuttings and Successful Propagation

What is propagation?

Propagation simply refers to the process in which new plants grow. This can be from seeds or cuttings.

What is a plant cutting?

A cutting, often referred to as a clone, is a side shoot that has been taken from a mother plant and propagated.

What do I need for successful propagation?

At London Grow we offer a variety of different sized propagation kits. You will need a designated space for cloning if you want to achieve high success rates. First, you will need a good quality propagation tent. We love the Garden HighPro Propagation Tent as they come with shelves making it ideal for maximising the usable space. You will then need to ensure that you have the correct lighting. LED or T5 Fluorescent strip lights are great for this. Just make sure they have the correct spectrum. For cuttings, you need an output of around 6400K which is often referred to as cool or blue light.

Our propagation kits come with propagators and the grow media of your choice. Whether you prefer ROOT!T Sponges, Jiffy Pellets, or Rockwool Cubes, we have something for everyone. If you go for Rockwool, you will need to keep an eye on your pH levels as you need to aim for 5.5-5.8 to increase success rates of propagation. ROOT!T Sponges and Jiffy Pellets are a lot more forgiving regarding this.

Scalpels are a key component for propagation. Our scalpels are sterile and individually packaged for ease of use. If you decide to use pruners, you will need to make sure you sterilise these to reduce the risk of contamination and passing on pathogens to your plant. The last thing you want to do is infect your mother plant!

What is a mother plant?

A mother plant is a plant that has been grown with the intention of taking cuttings. The benefit of keeping a mother plant is that you are effectively preserving the genetics of your favourite plant. When you grow a plant from a cutting, you can expect it to be identical to the mother plant in which the cutting was taken from. This is ideal for those of you looking to produce the exact same results time and time again.

In order to prepare your mother plant for taking cuttings, it’s important to consider different training methods that will help maximise growth rates and number of side shoots. For this application, we recommend topping frequently to help improve the structure of the plant. If you do not top your plant, you will end up with a very tall structure, with little side shoots. When you top the plant, it effectively stimulates the plant to turn the branch that was topped into two main branches, thus increasing the number of side shoots.

When is my mother plant ready for plant cuttings?

Simply put, you can take cuttings when the mother plant has plenty of side shoots. This way you can ensure that you will be able to take as many cuttings as you need for the next grow cycle. It’s important to remember that not all cuttings will root. We recommend that your cuttings are between 10-15cm long. You can take smaller cuttings, but we feel that success rates are better if they are of a decent size.

Why should I take plant cuttings?

Growing plants from cuttings is a great way of reducing costs. If you have to buy the same number of plants each time, the costs will soon start racking up! Seeds are often cheaper than established plants. However, growing from seed each time will produce inconsistent results as there can be a great difference in genetic potential across different seeds. If you use cuttings, you will have a more uniform crop and the ability to produce the same results/yield each cycle

How to take a cutting from a plant

Step one

Look for healthy side shoots that are approximately 10-15cm in length.

Step two

Cut using a sterile scalpel at a 45-degree angle, just above the node. If you are taking multiple cuttings before putting in your rooting gel, we recommend that you immediately place the cuts in a glass of water to prevent them from drying out. Whilst not compulsory, to help increase success rates of rooting, we advise that you cut the tips of the leaves off. The reason for this is that the tips of the leaves carry water weight, which will cause the cutting to droop and take longer to recover. When you cut the tips of the leaves, you are exposing the plant to air which will help improve the rate of transpiration.

Step three

When you have taken all your cuttings, you will need to grab your rooting gel of choice. For this example, we will be using Clonex. It’s always advised to wear gloves when working with Clonex due to the hormones present. Simply dip the cutting in Clonex and keep it there for 10 seconds before transferring to your propagation media.

If it’s your first time working with cuttings, it’s strongly advised that you take an extra 30% to account for any which do not root!

How to care for cuttings

Now that your cuttings are safe and sound inside your propagator, you must be wondering how to keep these alive and get them to root?

Sometimes with cuttings, over care is overkill. But this does not mean you can just leave them to it!

You should be aiming for temperatures between 21c and 25c, with humidity sitting around 75-90%. If the walls of your propagator are covered in condensation, then your humidity is too high and you are running the risk of developing mould on your cuttings. If you are struggling to keep your temperatures up, consider adding a ROOT!T Heat Mat and ROOT!T Thermostat for Heat Mats. This will ensure that your cuttings are happy and healthy throughout this important stage.

It’s always recommended that you keep your propagation material hydrated, but not too wet. Some degree of dry back is necessary to help stimulate root growth. For the first 5-7 days, we recommend that you keep the vents of your propagator closed. During these days, simply open and close the propagator lid once a day to get some fresh air in. After the 5-7 days have passed, open the vents to help force the cuttings to transpire and root. Roots can take 14-21 days to appear in some cases. Throughout this time, keep checking on the root zone to see if any roots have developed. Formulex from Growth Technology is a great feed for providing your cuttings with all the nutritional requirements needed to keep them happy!

Once your cutting has an established, healthy root system, it is time to transplant these into your favourite potting mix and begin using your main feed.

I want faster roots!

If you’re running on a short time frame, and you’re looking to maximise the rate of rooting, it’s worth considering opting for aeroponics. The X-Stream Aeroponic Propagator is a fantastic unit that really does accelerate root growth! These come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. The smallest X-Stream allows you to propagate 12 cuttings, whereas the largest allows you to propagate 120 cuttings at a time.

The propagator is composed of a tank, lid, and spray assembly kit with pump. If using cuttings, you will need to use the neoprene collars supplied with the kit. Treat the cuttings the same as above, but once you have dipped them in Clonex, carefully place inside the neoprene collar so the bottom part of the stem is elevated above the water in the tank. The spray assembly kit will constantly spray water around the root zone, maintaining perfect moisture levels. Once the roots appear, the growth will almost immediately accelerate. This is primarily due to the combination of the spray and oxygen levels around the area in which the cuttings are suspended. For enhanced rooting, add Formulex to the tank when the first roots appear. When compared with propagating in grow media, you will observe a much larger root mass when using the X-Stream Aeroponic Propagator.