Reproducing your favorite plants

County Agent’s Corner

 

 

When I was growing up, we didn’t live too far from my grandparents, so I was at their house a lot. I have wonderful memories of being there. The fig bush by the front bedroom window had a certain smell, especially in late summer into early fall. Grandpa had peonies that he took pride in, and they smelled wonderful when they would bloom in the spring. He would cut some for me to take to my third grade teacher, Mrs. Sue Morgan. It didn’t help me much with my grades, but she had a great impact on my life. She taught me how to work! (“Thank you Mrs. Morgan.”)

Other plants at my grandparents’ farm included fruit trees, and a single rose bush that was just outside their bedroom window. It had small, light pink flowers that smelled like a rose is supposed to smell. To make a long story short, I propagated that rose and have taken it with me wherever I have lived. It is a heritage plant. It takes me back to my youth and memories of loved ones. I suspect many folks have something planted around their home that reminds them of a special person or place.

 

 

To propagate a bush rose you simply need to take cuttings. A cutting is a piece of stem, from this season’s growth, about six inches long. As soon as you cut the stem, remove all the leaves except one, and stick three to four inches of it into a good potting soil or other rooting media. Leaves act as a wick and will dry the stem out if left attached. There’s very little photosynthesis going on in the cutting so leaves are not needed.

Wet the container down well and place it in a shaded area, close to a water supply. I recommend sticking several cuttings in a single container. They do not require a great deal of sun until root initiation begins, usually in four to six weeks. Keep the cuttings damp at all times. Water them morning and afternoon to ensure they do not dry out. If they ever dry out, they’re dead. In a perfect world we would all have a nice rooting bed with a mist system. You may use a rooting hormone on the cutting, but at this time of year it is not needed.

If you work with semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings later in the year, then a rooting hormone is recommended.

Some plants may be rooted any time of the year, while others are limited to a specific time frame during the growing season. In order to be successful rooting muscadine cuttings, the last week of June to the first week of July is when you are going to have the greatest success. Take the current growth, remove the last six inches of a runner or vine tip, take the four to six inches of stem just prior to the juvenile growth, cut and stick in the potting media. You should be able to get several cuttings from a single cane.

This is an easy way to produce multiple plants of a single variety. You just need to remember to keep them wet until they root. If you only need a muscadine plant or two, you can easily layer a stem. Just take a runner and get good ground to stem contact by placing the stem in a shallow trench, put soil back on top, and place a brick or other object on it to keep it from being snatched out of the ground. Leave it there until next spring. It should be well rooted and you can cut the runner to the mother plant, dig and plant it. You can also try air layering muscadines. There is a good YouTube video on using two-liter bottles to air layer muscadines. You might want to check it out.

American and European grapes are different from muscadines. If you only need a new plant or two, you can layer them exactly the same way as muscadines are layered. If you want to propagate from cuttings, they need to be taken in February. Once again, some plants are time specific when it comes to cutting propagation. The timing has been worked out for you. All you need to do is research the plant you’re interested in.

I don’t have a greenhouse, misting bed, or any special tools to work with, but I do have a shade tree, a water hose, and just a touch of knowledge about the plants I am interested in. Propagating plants is easy, fun, and a great way to share with your gardening friends!

Dan Porch is County Extension Coordinator with the Blount County Extension Office. Dan lives in and loves Blount County and is available to answer your questions about conservation, agriculture, natural resources, and gardening. He can be reached at (205) 274- 2129 or porchdw@aces.edu.