Cloning Your Outside Plants

If you took my advice and had an outdoor garden as well as your usual indoor garden (start outdoor garden  indoors link) then hopefully you are enjoying good growing outdoors and you can now try another way to enhance your growing. Now that we are in August, your outdoor plants should be in full growth mode, maybe beginning to flower/fruit. If you want you could take some cuttings of your outdoor plants and get ready for another indoor crop over the fall/winter. This has some advantages, you know the plants qualities, male or female, red or blue petals etc. Another nice thing is that plants grown outdoors are usually bigger so you can take a few cuttings without harming your outdoor yield too much. Pruning an outdoor plant may make it branch a bit more. The draw back is that when you bring plants from the outside in, you risk bringing in pests like aphinds, white flies, root aphids, spider mites and more.  After you take the cuttings watch your outdoor plants to see if they develope an infestation.  If they have one already don't bring cuts indoors.

Another potential problem, plants tend to form roots with less success when flowering or beginning to flower, so if you are going to try this, take a few more cuts than usual since you will lose a few. The reason it is harder to get cuttings from a flowering plant is that the hormones that promote flowering often interfere with the hormones that promote root growth. If possible I would recommend removing flowers as the cells of the flowers and the tips of the branches are where hormones are produced. Depending on the type of plant species you are growing you may want to leave some small flowers since new growth (stems etc.) will come from the flowers. Keep in mind, the further the plant is into flowering the less the success you will have getting cuttings.

For cuttings, I usually recommend taking the tops/tips of growing branches with a couple of leaf nodes. I like to remove the lowest set of leaves and put rooting hormone where the leaves were growing (node) because this node where you cut the leaves is often where roots grow from. I know people that also take the lower smaller branches for cuttings. They say they get good results with cuttings. Moreover, the branches usually would lose leaves and die or at best would produce next to nothing as far as flowers or fruit, so why not use them to make a whole new plant? It might be something you want to try indoors or out.

As I have said I really like to use the starter plugs from HTGSupply.com but I have used soil and soil-less rooting mediums as well. One thing I did when I made my grow shelf  for my cuttings is that I build it so that there is a slight angle away from the wall. I did this so that when I spill water it will roll off the shelf and not seep into the wall. When I take cuttings I notice that the starter plugs at the back of the shelf (high end) dry out first. You notice they start to get a lighter shade of brown as they dry, a great visual cue telling you to attend to the plants. I like the plugs because like rockwool you can let them sit in a tray with a small amount of water and the plants still have enough air around the stem to grow roots. (Roots need air and water which is why many plants don’t sprout in standing water). I have noticed with a heat mat that when the tray has some water the dome tends to be covered with condensation. The dome gets less condensation when the tray is dry, something else to key you in that you need to attend to your cuttings. I notice as over a few day that in the morning that the dome is not coverd with water which tells me the plants are drying out over night and I should give them a bit more water than the day before.  You should wipe off the done each day, you want to crease a humid environment since the plants can’t take up water without roots, but you don’t want to have a lot of areas for mold to grow, since it too likes a humid environment. I often mist the plants with a hand mister the first few days. If you have had problems with mold or stem rot in the past you may want to skip this. The idea is to keep the air humid so the plant cells in the leaves don’t dry out (and die) before the plant can form new roots to take up water.
There will be some more tips on cuttings on the next post, with more pictures.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers

1 comment:

hillbilly said...

perhaps, good Dr., part of my failure with nursery flats, humidity domes and starter plugs was due to the fact that i NEVER even thought about wiping the condensed moisture off of the underside of the dome - another example of how procrastinating in joining (or even visiting) this blog yours has prevented my success from gaining momentum. my indoor garden has never been better - since using just a little of the great info here. thanks Dr. Myers