Sunday, December 11, 2011

Flower cluster propagation update

In an earlier entry, I showed how I'd rooted a flower cluster, the type of growth quite often disparaged for propagation as it supposedly doesn't contain growth buds. This is what that bloom cluster of Shadow Dancer looked like today, not quite a year since it rooted, when I planted it in the yard. 

The actual flowering part is to the right, the new cane, in all its thorny glory, is the one on the left. 
 That's a two gallon nursery can it's planted in.
 Not bad growth from a less than a year old rooted plant, particularly from growth most often dismissed as unsuitable for propagation.

The "terrace" down hill is for seedlings and the ever-present alyssum. The stuff grows like fire, but nothing eats it and it keeps the other weeds down. The wire basket is to inhibit the mole I haven't yet been able to send to his reward.


  1. Pretty impressive, Kim! I have also successfully used some flower bud cluster cuttings--not rooted wrapped, but just in soil. I decided to try a new type of winter propagation inspired by your wrapped cutting success, but instead of damp paper, put my cuttings deeply in barely damp soil, then in a tightly closed bin to maintain dampness. The room the bin is in has indirect light, and is unheated, so stays evenly cool at all times. So far the cuttings look really promising...will let you know how it goes.

  2. That should be interesting Sally. I'll look forward to hearing how it does for you. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work, unless it's too wet and too enclosed causing it to sour, but that remains to be seen. I'd read several things which said to trash the actual flower clusters and that was part of the instructions I was given when I started propagating at The Huntington, but there are so many roses which just don't provide a lot of cuttings, polys for one, that you have to try them or you can't produce many plants in a season.

  3. Hope this works for me as I have had problems transitioning the wrapped (in paper) cuttings to soil when I have tried that before. I made sure the soil I used this time was barely damp--not wet at all--hoping to avoid damping off, then placed the cuttings in the lidded bin to maintain that slight dampness (like the plastic bag does when wrapping in paper). I would love to find a method that works for me consistently.

  4. I think using a closed bin is your problem, Sally. I plant mine deeply in the foam cups outdoors where they get a few hours of direct sun, but are shaded by the front garden wall or the house the rest of the day. It remains brilliantly illuminated by reflected light, so there is sufficient light, but it is protected from drying winds. With the cuttings planted up to three quarters of their depth under soil, they still absorb light through the green wood, but the cool, damp soil maintain their moisture. I think closing them inside something which prevents moisture from evaporating fosters the growth of the damping off pathogens and leads to rot. Allowing them full air promotes water evaporation and permits them to be watered as any other potted plant. I've lost very few at this stage. When I tried enclosed containers, I lost 100% of the cuttings, no matter what method I tried, nor what time of year.

  5. Thanks for the info, Kim. I had heard much of the success of others with bin propagation, but have not had much myself in the past. I had hoped to have more success in the cool temps, but perhaps I would do best to return to open air for rooting success. I recently told my nephew that I used to stick cuttings in plain dirt at random and had probably 50% success or more, but since I have been working hard at increasing my success rate with better potting mix and more elaborate techniques, my success has dropped to about 1%....sheesh!

  6. You're welcome Sally. I understand wanting to increase the take percentage, but it seems you should probably keep doing what you did while experimenting. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.