Thursday, May 5, 2011

Longer wrapped cuttings for standard stocks

At one time, standard roses were budded on the rambler, IXL. The benefits are IXL flows a great deal of water, so longer or taller lengths are possible than with the current Dr. Huey stocks. IXL forms very thick canes, often an inch or more, in a very short time and it grows them VERY long. It roots quite easily and accepts most scions. The downsides are the enormous amount of room necessary to maintain mother blocks of it for commercial production and the ease with which it can sun scald under extreme conditions.

I chose to use IXL to produce standards for my garden because I want/need stronger, thicker trunks to help against the high winds we can experience here on this hill. I want to bring some of the seed parent breeders I like to use higher up, so I can see them better and not have to kneel or sit on the ground to work with them. I hope bringing the hips up higher will also help keep the vermin from eating them before I can plant them!

I collected three dozen, quite thick, cuttings from a very long whip of an IXL I had given to my brother in law many years ago. Some of them were only six or so inches long. Most were a foot and a half or longer, with the longest measuring a full four feet. The ones intended for standard trunks had all growth buds except for the top one or two sliced out of them with a single edged razor blade. I processed them with my aforementioned rooting hormone of choice and wrapped them, as before, in the damp newspaper.
Two, large, black plastic trash bags were used, one from each end, to wrap the bundle of "burritos". These were wrapped around and tied loosely to maintain the dampness inside.
This wrapped bundle was then placed on a shelf inside the storage room attached to the garage where it remained cool for the two week period. At the appointed time, I unwrapped them and found this.

These were all potted in one and two gallon cans. The larger ones have been staked and tied to secure them in the pots to prevent wobbling. Root formation requires good soil to cutting contact. Should the cuttings wobble in the soil, rooting could be delayed or even prevented. Those intended to create new mother plants, complete with all bud eyes left in them, were potted as the earlier cuttings were. Those with the growth buds removed, intended for stocks, I wrapped in strips cut from white kitchen garbage bags.
Twenty-five plus years ago, when I was volunteering at The Huntington Library propagating roses, I developed a method of rooting these longer cuttings for standard stocks. This is where wrapping the trunks in the white plastic came from. The plastic retains moisture in the cane while it roots. The white plastic permits light to absorb into the green wood so photosynthesis may continue, feeding the cutting while it develops. Here, without mist, I figured using the white plastic strips to wrap the stocks, leaving the tops exposed, would permit them to grow with less chance of rot.
I tucked the pots among the others in my "pot ghetto", figuring the surrounding foliage would provide extra humidity, much as poking a cutting into the soil under the mother plant would.

It's been almost three weeks since these were removed from the paper and potted. As you can see, the combination of all that was done has permitted them to begin growing even faster than the first batch of smaller ones did. I believe the extra heat of the past few weeks has probably helped.

Once I can see root formation in the pots, I'll begin loosening the plastic wrappings to harden them off. By next spring, I should have a number of stocks suitable for budding.

Wrapping cuttings

If you haven't already discovered it, The Rose Hybridizers Association and its Forum are great places to learn about many things concerning roses. The site is populated by a very nice group of people from across the globe and all have great imagination and experiences. One very interesting "discovery" I've gleaned from the RHA and from Paul Barden's Rose Blog concerns wrapping cuttings to callus.

I formerly lived in a hotter, more arid climate, and I had figured out how to root roses there with little difficulty. I have since moved to a more humid, a bit less hot, area and I have sacrificed MANY cuttings to rot before hitting on this wonderful advance. The initial introduction was made by Simon Voorwinde , an Australian member sharing what George, another Australian member had shared with him.  Rose Hybridizers Association Forum
Photographic instruction and mention of the method was further shared by Paul Barden on his great Rose Blog. Paul Barden's Blog  It looked and sounded simple enough!

I'd discovered part of my problem was it is too humid here to enclose rose cuttings in anything. The air is sufficiently "close" for them to root without rotting as long as they are protected from extreme wind and too hot sunlight. Using this wrapping method further increased my chances of success by keeping them moist while they callus and begin forming roots, greatly shortening the time required for them to actually become plants.

I "streamlined" the proceedure shared on the other two sources and found it worked! I took cuttings as I would normally, removed all the foliage and processed them with my rooting hormone of choice. Several sheets of plain old newspaper were thoroughly soaked then wrung out as dry as I could get them. Here is your first chance of failure. There should be NO dripping wet paper. Wring out as much water as you possibly can. The cuttings are going to be securely wrapped in this paper. Soggy paper WILL cause them to grow mold and turn into slime. You want moisture, dampness, not soggy, so squeeze out as much water as you possibly can so the paper no longer drips when squeezed.

I placed the pile of cuttings all together in the center of the paper, then wrapped them as you would to make a burrito. It looks something like these, though the longer ones shown are actually longer than traditional cuttings. More about those, later.
Instead of wrapping the "burritos" in Saran Wrap and rubber banding them as Simon's method suggests, I found simply wrapping them in plastic shopping bags then tying them tightly, kept them sufficiently damp for the callusing period. As long as the bags are sealed to prevent the loss of the dampness, it will work. I placed the bags in a drawer in a chest in the garage where they remained cool and dark for the required two weeks.

At the end of the two weeks, this is what I found in the "burritos".

I removed them from the "burritos" and potted them individually in 16 oz. foam cups with drainage holes poked through the bottoms and placed them where they would receive half day, morning sun, surrounded by other plants where the humidity remains fairly high. I deliberately planted them deeply, as deep as possible in the cups, to provide them more protection from moisture loss until they rooted.
I kept them watered so the soil remained damp and within a few weeks, new sprouts were growing from most of the cuttings. I had gone from 100% failure, to over 80% success with 135 cuttings. This was with a variety of different rose types, from polyanthas, climbers, species crosses, HTs and floribundas, not just a few varieties which root fairly easily. I am certain pre callusing the cuttings in the dark, damp, cool newspaper before planting them was more than half the key. This was accomplished during our rainy period, so temperatures were lower than "normal" and there was higher humidity, so everything stacked the deck in my favor.

Next installment...Longer wrapped cuttings for standard trunks, and in warmer weather!Paul Barden's Blogspot


I said I wouldn't do this....

There really isn't anywhere else to compile everything I play with and want to share, so here goes...

It isn't a good idea to tell me something won't work. I'll cogitate on it until a way around the block appears just to prove it will work. Having the blessing of knowing Ralph Moore reinforced that. If it doesn't work this way, it likely will some other way. His admonition was "don't stir the pot", and that goes for everything from crossing roses to propagation and gardening. "Because, that's the way it's done" ISN'T a proper response! To my mind, "because it WORKS" is a much more respectable answer.

It sometimes takes us a little while to learn enough to come to the realization we really don't know much about any subject. Roses taught me very quickly that I can't know it all. As Ralph always said, "just about the time you think you know the rules, the rose changes them!". Yup. Every stinking time!

I've been called a "rose heretic", and I consider that a compliment. I do think I'm rather pragmatic about many things. As long as it isn't illegal, immoral or fattening, I'll look for the most efficient, most cost effective method to do pretty much everything. I'll also try to understand the basic mechanics, logic and science behind whatever it is so I can figure out the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to accomplish it. Growing, breeding and propagating roses are no exceptions. I hope to be able to share some of the fun I've had, and continue to have as well as some of the discoveries shared with me and those which I have discovered,  playing in the roses. Should you be interested, you're invited to come and share in the adventure!