E-mail - Mushrooms in My Medium

Doc, I have noticed mushrooms growing in my soil, I use a soil mix I got from HTG and I use Fox Farm fertilizer. My buddy said the spores from the mushrooms will get on the leaves and cause mold, is this true and what can I do about the mushrooms?
Thanks for your E-mail. First, you friend is not quite right, while spores are from fungi and can lead to plant diseases, and mushrooms do put out spores, mushrooms are a different species of fungus. This means that their spores won’t cause diseases of the leaf, but other spores will. Mushrooms are like flowers, they are the reproductive part of the fungi, most of rest of the fungus lives underground. These mushrooms could be from beneficials that are in the soil, or they could be from a spore that wandered into your grow area from outside. The mushroom/fungi will break down organic matter in your soil, so it is probably not harming your growth rate and may help the plant, but I don’t know if I’d want mushrooms growing in my house if I don’t know what type they are… but that is me. You can pluck the mushrooms as the grow, and wash your hands afterwards and all should be well.

If you look online, you may be able to find pictures and determine the species of mushroom, many types are edible, but some are poisonous. My degrees are in plant biology, so I have limited mushroom knowledge.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Growing with a Soil-Coir Mixture

Most E-mail’s I get are about problems with growing.  However, I also enjoy when I get comments and ideas from successful good growers. This semester I have been getting ready for spring and my outdoor garden and I have given my seedlings the optimal growth environment which this year includes  a mixture that is ½ Happy Frog rainforest soil and ½ coir brick.  There are many other choices for germinating mediums  of course but I always encourage people to experiment and try to imporve what they are doing.

This mixture is very light which promotes good root growth but holds water for the seedlings. I encourage you soil growers out there to give this mixture a try. I welcome sharing of other medium ‘recipes’ that have worked for you. I have learned a lot from writing this blog and I hope we can all keep learning from each other.

Good Growing
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail – Cuttings with Yellow Leaves –


I took several cuttings from a plant by cutting the branches near the base of the plant and am using the starter plugs form HTGSupply.com in a tray with a plastic dome. I keep the vents open, take the lid off each day and mist the plants. The problem is the lower leaves are yellowing and I don’t have any root growth yet.

Thanks for your question; it fits in with my last post on the blog… You may want to try the 8 site clone bucket if you are serious about taking cuttings.

… The yellow leaves may not mean all is lost. Since you said it is the lower leaves it could mean the nutrients from the lower leaves are going to the upper leaves which is where new growth is occurring. This means you should soon see roots and put the ‘new’ plants in soil or hydroponic system. You should then apply a fertilizer that has phosphorus to promote root growth and nitrogen, which should stop the leaf yellowing. The yellowing could also be due to low light levels, you need to walk a fine line and not over light the cuttings so they use up all the water in the leaves, but you need to provide enough light to keep the cells in the leaves active. Also, you should be giving cuttings a few hours of darkness (I’d recommend 6). Although they are small and you are treating them like seedlings they are the age of the mother plant, and will need a dark cycle.

Something else that is problematic with taking cuttings is that the stem/nodes where roots will form needs to be wet, but for most plants they can not be submerged in water. Roots of terrestrial plants need oxygen, and standing water runs out of it very quickly. I would make sure that you are not leaving water in the tray for most of the day. As I mentioned in previous posts, you can see the starter plugs start to get a lighter brown as they dry out. You do not want the plugs to dry out, but you don’t want them soaked with water all the time either. Good growers know the goldilocks principal, not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of everything is what plants need.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions,

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


The Science Behind the 8 Site Clone Bucket

I have written a few posts about taking cuttings and I want to write about why the 8 site clone bucket works so well. With cuttings, you are taking pieces of a mother plant and forcing cells to change their physiology. You are trying to get roots to grow from leaf nodes or stems. Just like in animals, hormones have an overriding control of most cell activities which is why using rooting hormones can help with cutting success. You also need to create the proper environment.

The environment is where the 8 site clone bucket has a real benefit. You need to keep the plant parts where roots form wet, but not submerged in water (A few plants you can just plop a branch in a glass of water and they will root, but not most) The 8 site clone bucket has a water pump that circulates the water in the bucket. This circulation means that everything inside the bucket is wet, but it is never submerged or sitting in standing water. This circulation also encourages oxygen to enter the water and promotes airflow inside the bucket. This is the perfect environment to promote root growth for cuttings. Many of you are using an ebb and flow type of system with cuttings where you water them, they are very wet then dry out until you water them again. You can get great success with this as long as you are diligent and make sure the plant/cuttings are kept moist and not too wet or dry. With the 8 site clone bucket you put your cuts in and in two weeks you take them out. You need to moniter the water level but unlike with hydroponics with vigorously growing plants, you don’t have a lot of water loss from the 8 site clone bucket. You could also add some nutrients when roots start to form and use the 8 site clone bucket as an aeropoincs system until the roots are very well developed. It makes taking cuttings a lot easier and increases the success rate.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail - Improving Cutting Success

I have had a few E-mails about problems with taking cuttings and/or asking how to improve cutting success. Each plant species will have a different success rate when taking cuttings. Some plants you just snip off a branch and stick it in water; others can take weeks to get even a small percentage of branches to form roots.

Please click here to see my pictoral post about cuttings

I have had great success with the 8 site clone bucket, if you want to take cuts frequently; it is a rather inexpensive way to, in my opinion and experience, guarantee success. Also, make sure when you take your cutting, you snip off leaves at one or two nodes and have the node(s) wet (in the medium or clone bucket reservoir). The cells that grow at the nodes (base of the leaf stem a.k.a. petiole) are usually where new root growth will occur. Some plants can grow from the bottom of a cut stem, but all plants will show root growth from the leaf nodes, so always include a node in the rooting medium. Also, this is where you should apply any rooting hormone…

The first thing to try if you are having difficulty is a rooting hormone. This product is not always needed and some plant species won’t show a difference between using hormones and not, but others species won’t root without it. I have never seen a study that showed using rooting hormones and/or B1 decreases success, so give it a try. I have used Hormex and Juicy Roots with good success as well as others. There is not much difference between most rooting hormones if you read the ingredients.  The gels will stick to the plant better but I soak the branches in Hormex (just like the directions say to) and it works as well as any other rooting compound I have tried.

Keeping the cut moist is important, but like so much of biology there is the goldilocks principal, not too wet, and not too dry, but just the right amount of wetness is what is needed. I like to use the starter plugs since they hold moisture well but provide enough air spaces. Soil’s tend to be too soggy or to dry. Rockwool is also an option for taking cuttings. You could also try to take cuttings using vermiculite, I have done this in greenhouses I worked at.

I would also recommend having a heating mat for starting seedlings under the cuttings as warm constant temperatures will promote cutting success. Again, you don’t want the environment you are taking cuttings in to get too hot or too cold and a heat mat will help keep the plants just the right temperature.

Last, use a more diffuse light, fluorescent lights work best, but I have used the UFO Tri-Band LED many times. I keep the LED about 3 feet above the cuttings since it is a very intense light. Keeping the LED so high also allows you to have another try or two of cuttings under the light.

Please click here to see my other post about cuttings

I hope this helps, as always, if you can’t find what you are looking for after doing a search of the blog, send me an E-mail and I will answer your questions.

Good Growing,

Dr. E.R. Myers