Hardwood cutting propagation and basal end heating

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by Ottawa-Zone5, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    I have read that dormant hardwood cutting propagation is helped by placing hardwood cutting in propagating medium in a pot on top of a heating mate. I have not read any opposition to this view. However I have also read that heat is "not required" any more after callus is formed on the basal end of the hardwood cutting; but 'not required' is different from knowing if the bottom heat will still provide some benefit or it is detrimental rather than being helpful to keep the rooting pot on heat mate after callus or root initials or roots itself. I will appreciate comments if someone knows the botanical aspect of this issue or just have personal observations as to when the bottom heat can be removed for better results, that is after callus is formed, or after root initials are formed, or after roots have started?
    If it is true that once roots start on hardwood cuttings they grow better in cooler temperatures then I can place the rooted cuttings at room temperature (with good RH) and use the heat mate for starting new cuttings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2009
  2. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    You certainly can use bottom heat if you so desire. I never bother with it. Here is what I do. Select only healthy wood that grew the previous summer, and reject any branches that look weak or diseased. Cut the top end slightly above a bud. Cut the bottom end on a slant, to expose more cut area to form roots. I try to make all the cutting of each variety the same length, between five to twelve inches. Label each bundle carefully. With the identifying leaves gone, the bundle of twigs looks quite anonymous. Bury the bundles in a container that holds enough of the medium to cover them adequately. I use slightly moistened vermiculite in large plastic cans, and store them in the garage or root cellar, which stays cool but does not freeze. Some people use sand, but I like to use vermiculite because it is lighter and easier to manage than sand, and is less likely to harbor disease. Whatever you use should be barely moistened and never soaked. Toward spring, when the cellar or garage starts to become warmer, the cuttings begin to form a thick callus on their bottom ends. Wait until they have developed the callus before setting them out. If they are set out too early, a few leaves may form, but roots will not develop in time to support them. Before planting I dip the rooted ends in a rooting powder. Then plant them in a hotbed or an outdoor bed of well prepared, light, rich soil in a protected spot that gets sunlight only until noon, placed four to six inches apart, and each is buried deep enough so that only the top one or two buds remain above the ground. After firming the soil around the cuttings so they won't dry out easily, cover the entire bed with a sheet of slightly cloudy polyethylene, supported a few inches above the cuttings by boards. Whenever the weather is at all dry, water the bed, and continue to water even after the roots have started to form. As soon as the roots have started, I give them some liquid fertilizer such as Peters 20-20-20. When the new plants have developed a good top and root growth, I remove the plastic cover. Thanks to the rich soil and regular feedings and watering's, they grow into sizable plants before the end of summer. You can leave them in the bed, or transplant into pots, then transplant them into the field early the following spring. The best of luck. - Millet (1,431-)
     
  3. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    Thanks Millet, it is a good refresher for rooting hardwood cuttings.
    Actually my question was in a way asking that if I have dormant hardwood cutting in a proper rooting mix in a clear plastic glass and I noticed appearance of roots in the clear glass sides, do I still need the bottom heat or it will be better to move the rooted cutting to room ambient or a bit cooler place for better root growth, or should I leave it on the heat mate?
     
  4. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    I gather from your report, that the cuttings have rotted in water? What type of hardwood?
     
  5. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    Not rotted but rooted while on heat mate. I can see good roots through the clear glass wall. My question is if keeping further on heat mate help the root in growth. If further progress will be better at room ambient or cooler temperatures then I can remove the just rooted and shooted plant from heat mate and use the mate space for new domant cuttings I bought and are stored in the fridge.
     
  6. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I meant rooted too! If the roots are substantial, and depending on what type of hardwood cuttings ? why not get them into a soil medium, and place them in a frost free holding pattern until the weather warms up... a 15 up to 20 celsius ambient temp will continue the growth, however it is a little early even for protected hardwoods to bud in Ottawa?
     
  7. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Ottawa, to answer your question, if the cuttings are already rooting, then no you do not need bottom heat. Keeping them at normal room temperature will be fine. In fact you do not want to get the cuttings to warm, so that the cuttings develop a lot of foliage, at least until they have developed a good enough root system to support the new leaves. BTW I used to belong to the Ottawa Giant Pumpkin growers association. Take care. - Millet (1,431-)
     
  8. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    Thanks Millet and all
    These are fig cuttings I rooted in Perlite/Vermiculite mixture in a clear plastic glass placed in a Wal-Mart clear plastic storage box with heat mat under the box bottom. I was able to root the cuttings but I lost some afterward probably because I continued keeping these in the warm humid environment with the mat heating the roots in the glass. Based on Millet input I will try to remove the cuttings from the box and store these rooted ones at room temperature keeping in mind the balance between root mass, humidity and transpiration.
    If I notice droop in the shoots (indicating less root mass on the rooted cutting than the shoots require), I may place them back in the box for a little more while but with a heat insulator under the glass.
    I will appreciate reference to any article on internet that talks about heat requirement for different stages of hardwood cutting such as callus formation, root initials and subsequent root growth. I have this vague feeling that I read`somewhere that once started, the roots grow better at cool temperature but I am not sure.
     
  9. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Now that we know that it is a fig, what kind? edible Ficus? They do not like to be transplanted... they are well adapted to BC's southerly coastal climate, and produce amazingly succulent and delicious fruit from July onward. In southern Ontario many Greek and Italian growers bury/dig them in for the winter every year.
     
  10. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    These are Ficus Carica (Common fig). Ficus carica does not mind transplating at all. Many times they are rooted in Perlite/Vermiculite mixtures and after good mass of roots, the mixture can be gently shaken off for transplanting in good commercial soil. I have done this many times. Then moving from a quart size to a gallon size and bigger pots, you don't have to be too gentle to tranplant in dormant mode. Actually fig grown in pots, the roots have to be pruned heavily every few years for better plant growth and productivity.
    They are easy to root. I already have rooted a number of these. However, it was the high rate of loss after rooting that prompted me to ask the questions above. Most of the losses were the rooted cuttings still placed on heat mat.
     
  11. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you are right about the pot bound edible fig, they love it, but once in the ground, forget about transplanting them, here in Vancouver they grow up to 10 metres tall.
     
  12. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    My experience rooting hardwoods (barberry in my case) was that the bottom heat did definitely speed up root formation. Once decent roots formed however, I should have removed the bottom heat...as I managed to exhaust the food reserves in the cutting material, which was directed entirely into roots until they all perished. I'm sure they would have been fine until spring if kept just frost free after which the tops would have resumed growth.

    I think someone in this thread has already basically said the same thing...just confirming thru my experience, and thru some common sense.
     
  13. Ottawa-Zone5

    Ottawa-Zone5 Active Member

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    Growest
    So both your and my experience tell us that after rooting has started, the cuttings should be placed in cooler environment with decent humidity or somekind of dome if there are already some shoots, but no bottom heat.
     

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