Propagation these days


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Fresno, CA. Were all the food comes from if we ha
Just a few questions?

What are your fav things to propagate and how do you do it?

For me it has been mostly maples these days.

Tridents and Japanese maples (arakawa and reg green).

I have had some good success with cuttings taken at the begining of Spring and also recently. I also took air layers at the begining of spring and also just started some. (I have a good friend who is the king of propagating and he swears this is one of the best times of year to do it. He says as fall approached, the tree will be sending loads of energy down to the roots and the air layers will work.) WARNING this is for our area, where we don't get really cold weather so we can take the air layers off in Nov and they will survive the winter. I guess a green house might work, but don't want to lead someone astray.

The way I do air layers (is how I learned from my friend) is to completely ring the bark and do at least 1-1.5" all the way around so the bark can't bridge the gap. (commit to it and don't look back) Use the gel rooting hormone and put it on the edge of the cut and about 1" above the cut (that is where the roots will come). Then take a plastic cup or container and cut it down one side and along the bottom and cut a hole in the bottom for the trunk and then some drain holes (cutting along the edge of the cut/bowl works best. Use wire to hold the cup together and fill with akadama or pumace or a mix. (if you cut some small holes at the top on each side of the split, you can lace the cup together) Also, wire the cup to the branch above the cup so it doesn't move up or down and won't spin and break off new roots. Water every day. A clear container is best as it will let you see roots when they appear. After they are about 1.5" long cut the wire and gently remove the cup.

Plant the tree in pure sifted akadama and put in the shade for about 2 months. (I've been keeping mine in mostly shade all summer but we have 110 degrees for a lot of our summer. Also when you transplant, wire the tree in the pot so it is secure. Not by the roots, but from the top of the new tree. The roots at this stage will be very tender and still white but they can and will keep the tree alive. (look at the Kyosuke Gun maple books. He removes them when they are tender like this as well.)

As far as cutting goes my best success this year has been with semi green wood on maples. Cut the very growing end off (last set or two of the tender green growth). Leave two sets of leaves on the cutting but cut them down to just a little 1" triangle or so. you just need about 2-4 small leaf parts left to collect sun. I wound about 1" of the cutting with a razor blade and dip it in the same gel rooting hormone. Then i put about 40 of these in a large Orchid pot full of pumice or akadama or a mix. Make sure to use a dibble to make a hole for the cutting and put it about 2" into the mix. Then when I can't fit any more in, I water it good and cover the cuttings with a clear plastic cover. (upside down 1 gal ice cream containers work really well.) Water everyday and put in mostly shade. Mine get about 2-4 hours of sun a day. I have had good success with Jap maples, tridents, crepe myrtles, fig, olive and a few others.

For some reason i have had very poor luck with cork seju elms and this technique. One out of two Air layers worked, but cuttings have been a problem. What do you guys do for this species?

If you guys would add your successful techniques to this thread I think it would be great for all to read.

P.S. on a side note my buddy was all excited this week as he visited a nursery who is getting black pines to air layer. That's his new challenge. I'll let you know. Hint, It's the same technique as above but with moss.
Why not post pics of how you are doing the air layers..
And your cuttings.
Winter is a slow time for me. I do hard wood cuttings of elm, trident, J.maple, and junipers. I do these after the first hard freeze and its never failed me. Great way to pass a way the time during winter.

I do Zushio JWP in fall as well, so your friend isn't off the mark on some species as a good time to propagate.
No secret.... I pull out the holy bible of propagation (Dirr's Manual of Woody Propagation) and lay it on the holy alter of propagation ( a stainless steel propagation bench) I burn some incense and say a incantation or two. I then bring out the sacred grafting knife and commence to skin the bark exposing about a 1/8 inch of green cambium on my hardwood cuttings. I sterilize the cutting and then do a 5 second dip in a 8,000ppm IBA slurry. Place in a flat of pine, akadama, and turface semi fines.

Since I do winter hardwood cutting there leafless for about 3 weeks and the need for misting is not mandatory up front, though keeping the medium moist is. I usually have rooted cutting that can sustain themselves after six weeks or so. The trick to this type of propagation is heat during that time of year...and hardening them off in the spring. By April they have grown substantially and are in full leaf and those leaves have not been exposed to UV rays...getting them out and acclimated takes a while and is a delicate process...cause if done wrong they will cook and fry.

So on a 3x6 bench I can do about 300 cuttings, I have three of these benches and do the other species I mention above as well. Lately I have been running about a 60% survival rate with tridents coming out in the spring. I then whittle that down to about 50% after they have been exposed the outside world.

Not bad in my opinion when Dr. Dirr says the following about tridents "Successful cutting propagation has been elusive."
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Here are some pics. I also forgot to mention that the pond baskets work great too! They help the soil stay moist but not too wet.


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Forgot to mention........bottom heat.....a must!

Tom a few more questions. How big around are your trident cuttings and how long? I am guessing you take them at the end of winter, 6 weeks or so before spring?


I have done cuttings as big as your thumb...though success with that diameter drops off. The most common size for me is about pencil size perhaps a tad smaller. As I said above I do my cutting after the first hard freeze....I want them dormant, and then wake them back up.
This is my first year taking cuttings (chinese elm and shimpaku) following basically what Tom said earlier in this thread and I have one question:

Where should I keep the trays now that they are done? I have a greenhouse so I put them on the ground in there with a heating pad/wire under them. They also have domes covering the trays. It's still cold outside, well, cold for Portland anyway so Im wondering if they would be better off inside the house? Im thinking not but I wanted to check with you all.

Thanks for the input!
If you are following the advice from Tom, with bottom heat, I would leave them outside since you have a dome covering them to protect them.
Here in Atlanta, I place mine in a cold frame on the ground in a simi shaded area and protected from the wind and avoid direct sun (your dome). In the Spring, the cuttings will push leaves in the coldframe before those out on the benches. Again, expose them gradually to the elements once they produce leaves. I don't allow direct sun till the leaves begin to harden and than its a very gradual pace. Protect from the wind and you may have to mist them a couple of times daily once the leaves appear.
I've been doing some shimpaku cuttings in recent years. It's about time for me to pot up last year's crop. I use square pond baskets, loose media, and cover the top with saran wrap (with holes punched in it) so that water and light can get in while still retaining moisture. I'll shoot some pictures when it's light out.

No rooting hormone - just take the trimmings from my larger trees and stick them in the pond baskets and cover em up. Works like a charm here in Southern California, but may not work as well elsewhere. I get about 80% survival if I use the plastic wrap; about 25% if I don't.
Sounds like its a matter of retaining moisture until the little guys develop roots of their own and can take up water that way. I put all of my cuttings in a tray, covered with a plastic dome to keep the moisture in an put them on a warming bed. They are inside of my greenhouse as well so that should help keep things a little warmer than being outside. Retaining moisture and bottom heat seem to be the general methods for successful cuttings. Thanks for the input BN!
Have not done any cuttings this year but for fun I have done some seeds. Following the afore mentioned holy tome (Dirr and Heuser) I did some purple leaf plums from a neighbor's yard, apricots from Trader Joe's and several flowering pears from a parking lot. They are starting to come up now :)
Just because I don't use bottom heat doesn't mean that I don't recommend doing so. If I was doing cuttings that I was actually worried about, I would use bottom heat. As it is, shimpakus grow for me so easily without heat I haven't bothered.
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