Questions about Satsuki cuttings

keyfen06

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Hi all, I've got a few questions about cuttings from Satsuki Azaleas. This is my 2nd year of developing bonsai, and Satsuki's have definitely grown to be my favourite. I've took cuttings from every pruning I've done, and I've got a few questions about said cuttings. Below are a few photos of them.

1) When should I repot these?

I am aware that azaleas tend to put out growth even if they're dead, however these were taken 10 weeks ago and they seem to consistently be putting out new growth, so I have hope for them. I'm quite unsure on when I should repot these though, as after reading quite a few threads most people do this when the pots are filled with roots, however azaleas do have quite fine roots and I was wondering if this method would still apply? As you can see from the photos as well, I have done quite a few cuttings in each pot, so would this change how / when I repot them and what measures should I take to make sure they survive after seperating them?

2) When can I start feeding them?

I don't want to burn the roots since they're only cuttings, so I haven't applied any fertiliser yet. They are in inorganic soil which is I believe kanuma and sphagnum moss, so I'm guessing they might be quite stripped for nutrients. Any advice on when I should start fertilising these / (if I already should have been) would be appreciated.

3) Overwintering

Last year, I managed to keep quite a few cuttings alive throughout winter - however these were not bonsai, they were just some hydrangea, fuchsia and geranium cuttings which I left outside and survived. These satsuki cuttings have been on the kitchen windowsill which faces west, so they've been getting quite a few hours of sunlight. I am concerned though, as I'm not exactly confident in my ability to keep these going through winter. As of now, I only water these when they're slightly dry - however I'm guessing that in winter they'll take less water. Is there anything I should do like moving them or should I just keep them where they are? I don't know what the consequences of keeping them in the kitchen throughout autumn and winter will be, so any advice would be appreciated and anything in particular I should look out for. I've also been misting them everyday since I took the plastic bags off them, so should I continue that into winter or maybe tone it down a bit?

4) Acclimatisation

When should I move these outside? My zone is 9b, and this summer in England we've had temperatures peaking at 40C but mostly 24-28C consistently every day. It gets to around 0C or lower during winter.

5) Wiring

When can I start wiring these azaleas into shape? I know they are quite brittle and have thin bark, so I wasn't sure if I should start wiring them now or wait a bit until the bark thickens and the roots establish themselves more. I just don't want to leave them for too long, as I'd like to wire one or two of them into a cascade shape before they get too unpliable.

Last notes:
For the first few weeks, they had a plastic bag over them and I misted them about once a week. I took the bag off after a few weeks and over the past 3 weeks I've started misting them with a combination of water and cold pressed seaweed which I've acquired from my local bonsai club as a foliar spray for junipers. I don't know if it's the seaweed doing anything, but I've noticed quite green, good growth on them recently - so just sharing as a tip if anyone else would like to try that.

I apologise for the amount of questions, but I hope that the answers to this thread will be helpful to anyone else doing Satsuki cuttings.

Thanks.
 

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Glaucus

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1) When deciding to repot rooted cuttings, ideally you want to repot when the root masses of neighboring cuttings only slightly intertwine, so they are very easy to separate.
If you wait longer, you are going to lose some roots when separating them. If they are all easily separated, you could have waited longer for them to get more roots.

You can't really put a time on it and you can also not really see if from the size of the new growth how much new roots they have.
But generally, I would wait longer than 10 weeks. Often I am either surprised by the lack of roots, or the amount of roots.

2) I wouldn't really feed them. I think I have rooted in pure kanuma myself before, but I do not clearly remember. The kanuma soil will have very few nutrients compared to a mix that contains potting soil.
Cuttings are really susceptible to over-fertilizing. And because cuttings have weaker root systems compared to their foliage mass, they can develop chlorosis because of a weak root system. And not so much because the mixture lacks them.
If you do add something, add very dilute liquid fertilizer. But not right now. Only after they have been repotted, had many roots, then had at least 1.5 week 'recovering' from the repot. Then maybe 20x or 50x diluted compared to what is recommended. And only while you keep them indoors.

3) You can try to keep them indoors, but if you do that it can be quite challenging. Because if this is your decision, they need to be kept indoors until maybe April 2023? As they get larger, they will be more challenging to grow indoors.
I would say it is easier to move cuttings outdoors at some time in mid October than to keep growing them indoors until all risk of frost is gone.

4) Once you move them outside, they need about a month or so to go dormant. If temperatures hit below 0C before that, they are likely to die. So if they are outdoors and temperatures are low, you will see signs of dormancy. Once they are fully dormancy, and some light frost has hit, they will be hardy to quite low temperatures. Likely, for you it will be easier because they are already on the natural day-night cycle. I switched to growing cuttings indoors with artificial lights and long days. So this makes the transition to outdoors much more challenging.

I am not sure if your cuttings definitely have roots. I would keep them in a high humidity situation. If you don't bag them indoors, then I would move them outdoors and put them in a shaded spot. With the crazy summer weather over, humidity outdoors should be much better than indoors. I used to root all my cuttings outdoors anyway. That worked fine. I only do it indoors now because I use a grow light.
Higher temps indoors do offer some disease risks.
 

keyfen06

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1) When deciding to repot rooted cuttings, ideally you want to repot when the root masses of neighboring cuttings only slightly intertwine, so they are very easy to separate.
If you wait longer, you are going to lose some roots when separating them. If they are all easily separated, you could have waited longer for them to get more roots.

You can't really put a time on it and you can also not really see if from the size of the new growth how much new roots they have.
But generally, I would wait longer than 10 weeks. Often I am either surprised by the lack of roots, or the amount of roots.

2) I wouldn't really feed them. I think I have rooted in pure kanuma myself before, but I do not clearly remember. The kanuma soil will have very few nutrients compared to a mix that contains potting soil.
Cuttings are really susceptible to over-fertilizing. And because cuttings have weaker root systems compared to their foliage mass, they can develop chlorosis because of a weak root system. And not so much because the mixture lacks them.
If you do add something, add very dilute liquid fertilizer. But not right now. Only after they have been repotted, had many roots, then had at least 1.5 week 'recovering' from the repot. Then maybe 20x or 50x diluted compared to what is recommended. And only while you keep them indoors.

3) You can try to keep them indoors, but if you do that it can be quite challenging. Because if this is your decision, they need to be kept indoors until maybe April 2023? As they get larger, they will be more challenging to grow indoors.
I would say it is easier to move cuttings outdoors at some time in mid October than to keep growing them indoors until all risk of frost is gone.

4) Once you move them outside, they need about a month or so to go dormant. If temperatures hit below 0C before that, they are likely to die. So if they are outdoors and temperatures are low, you will see signs of dormancy. Once they are fully dormancy, and some light frost has hit, they will be hardy to quite low temperatures. Likely, for you it will be easier because they are already on the natural day-night cycle. I switched to growing cuttings indoors with artificial lights and long days. So this makes the transition to outdoors much more challenging.

I am not sure if your cuttings definitely have roots. I would keep them in a high humidity situation. If you don't bag them indoors, then I would move them outdoors and put them in a shaded spot. With the crazy summer weather over, humidity outdoors should be much better than indoors. I used to root all my cuttings outdoors anyway. That worked fine. I only do it indoors now because I use a grow light.
Higher temps indoors do offer some disease risks.
Hi Glaucus, thanks for the advice. There's quite a bit I wasn't able to find on the internet before but your reply has helped. To clarify, am I able to move them outside now and if so should I move them back in for the night just for a few days or can I keep them out there? And in regards to the 'shaded spot', does this mean full shade or a few hours of direct sunlight per day? It's also supposed to rain quite heavily in the next week (which is good since we've just experienced quite a bad drought), so will the cuttings be fine in the rain in terms of being waterlogged? Sorry for asking so many questions, I'd just like to be as sure as possible these survive as I've invested quite a bit of time into them and it'd be a shame to lose them. Thanks.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Concur with @Glaucus except with the fertilization comment.

Based upon my experience, once cuttings reliably push growth, which is usually about 3-4 weeks, its time to add liquid fertilizer to the watering mix. I only use Miracid (Miracle Gro for azalea and rhododendrens and camellias.) This will help the cuttings push roots imho, if they haven't.

Use one level small scoop of Miracid (Scoop comes included) in 1 L of H2O with a solid squirt of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide.

A couple thoughts that might improve your practice.

When taking cuttings leave 3-5 leaves, strip the remainder off.​
If using Kanuma, use small grained. I use 70/30 peat/small perlite usually, but kanama will work fine. Using kanuma may have a bit slower growth, however the advantage is that uppotting is much easier, avoiding a root wash a year down the line.​
@Glaucus asked that I post how to grow azalea whips here. This will go through striking and growing cuttings to whips. I have two other projects ahead of this right now, including the sustainable bonsai project. So stay tuned for Azalea Wars threads.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

keyfen06

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Concur with @Glaucus except with the fertilization comment.

Based upon my experience, once cuttings reliably push growth, which is usually about 3-4 weeks, its time to add liquid fertilizer to the watering mix. I only use Miracid (Miracle Gro for azalea and rhododendrens and camellias.) This will help the cuttings push roots imho, if they haven't.

Use one level small scoop of Miracid (Scoop comes included) in 1 L of H2O with a solid squirt of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide.

A couple thoughts that might improve your practice.

When taking cuttings leave 3-5 leaves, strip the remainder off.​
If using Kanuma, use small grained. I use 70/30 peat/small perlite usually, but kanama will work fine. Using kanuma may have a bit slower growth, however the advantage is that uppotting is much easier, avoiding a root wash a year down the line.​
@Glaucus asked that I post how to grow azalea whips here. This will go through striking and growing cuttings to whips. I have two other projects ahead of this right now, including the sustainable bonsai project. So stay tuned for Azalea Wars threads.

Cheers
DSD sends
Hello DSD, thank you for the additional advice and tips. Your Azalea Wars thread and Glaucus’ posts are actually one of the first I read before posting this, and I found a lot of useful information on both - quite nice to find someone who loves azaleas like I do! Just a question, from my understanding whips are quite tall plants which are quite thin and don’t have much branching. Is there any benefit to growing them like this such as to thicken the trunk quicker etc? Unless you cover this in the next Azalea Wars thread aha.
 

Glaucus

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Hi Glaucus, thanks for the advice. There's quite a bit I wasn't able to find on the internet before but your reply has helped. To clarify, am I able to move them outside now and if so should I move them back in for the night just for a few days or can I keep them out there? And in regards to the 'shaded spot', does this mean full shade or a few hours of direct sunlight per day? It's also supposed to rain quite heavily in the next week (which is good since we've just experienced quite a bad drought), so will the cuttings be fine in the rain in terms of being waterlogged? Sorry for asking so many questions, I'd just like to be as sure as possible these survive as I've invested quite a bit of time into them and it'd be a shame to lose them. Thanks.

Your pictures are a bit dark, so I cannot completely judge the quality and state of what you have right now. But I would say these would benefit from being kept in a sheltered high humidity environment, as if they had not yet rooted.
Likely, they have some roots, but they aren't quite there yet. From my experience, cuttings push new leaves before they push roots. And that root growth can be a bit delayed, but then grow very rapidly.
But, this is with my indoor growing setup with artificial lights.
I think if I remember correctly when I rooted them outdoors, I would not repot them at all until after winter.

Yes, these cannot take direct summer sunlight right now at all. So if moved outside, they need shade. When I rooted outdoors, they would always be outside during the night. But that had a lower success rate than indoors with grow light.
I do not know about indoors without a grow light. I had a feeling that little light but high temperatures indoors help fungus more than the plant itself. And that this may cause it to lose a battle. So the low night temperatures may actually help.
The cuttings just need time to root. So you stick them inside some soil/substrate, provide cover to retain high humidity so the cuttings retain water.
Since the cuttings are shaded and covered by a dome/bag, they do not need rain. In fact, the theory is that you want the soil to be kinda dry while the air has a high humidity and the bag/dome contains condensation. Of course, you don't want the soil to be completely bone dry. Since you use kanuma this may not be an issue. You don't want waterlogged peat/soil.

Check out this post:

Considering doing a new video on cuttings and post it on youtube. And then maybe record more footage and make it a more long term thing. But, I don't have a good camera & tripod. I may try with my phone.
Key is patience. At first, not a lot will happen. And when roots do start growing, you can't see them, right. So it is easy to have doubts. As long as the cuttings don't wilt or shed their leaves, they are still in the race and eventually they will root.

Right now, I switched to a semi-transparent box, combined with almost 20 hour days LED light. I have the heat map turned off, because it is warm enough already. Ideally, you want the air to be cooler than the soil.
Many people also root without bags or domes, outdoors. Just stick them in some soil, shelter them, make sure they don't dry out, and wait.
 
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Glaucus

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Ah, regarding fertilizer, note that I grow cuttings using 33% or 50% potting soil, which has fertilizer added.
I would actually try 33% peat 33% sharp sand and 33% vermiculite. Vermiculite should be better for rooting cuttings than perlite, because it doens't need to drain fast, because it doesn't get watered frequently.
When using substrate, things may be be different. I grow azalea from seed and basically don't fertilize them. They grow fine.
I did wonder last year if maybe fertilizer does have benefits. So I started to water my seedlings with dilute fertilizer. This worked fine.
So I also used it on my cuttings. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The cuttings for fertilizer burn. But that was in 50/50 peat & perlite.
I noticed pale green colour, even red colour, and signs of chlorosis on some seedlings. I believe this is more caused by a weak root system than by lack of nutrients in the soil.
Additionally, if the humidity is near 100%, little water evaporates from the leaves. That is what we want, because we don't want the cutting to dry out.
However, preventing the evaporation of water from the cutting also means we block the water transport through the cutting. Which means we also block nutrient transport through the cutting.
A plant can take up the most nutrients when it evaporates the most water, because this drives the water from from the roots, through the stem, to the leaves. With cuttings we block this on purpose.
So I believe chlorosis on cuttings is not caused by a lack of nutrients in the soil. It also means that potentially it could be corrected by foliage feeding.

This guy basically roots in 100% sharp sand only:
And he doesn't use any domes & bags, but he is inside a polytunnel, probably in India.

There are many ways to root successfully, but I feel most video examples on youtube are subpar. I'd say this one is good.

This Korean guy mass produces satsuki azaleas (sorry no translation):

I feel many other videos on Youtube are people trying it for the first time and don't have the perfect technique for themselves down yet.
 
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Ah, regarding fertilizer, note that I grow cuttings using 33% or 50% potting soil, which has fertilizer added.
I would actually try 33% peat 33% sharp sand and 33% vermiculite. Vermiculite should be better for rooting cuttings than perlite, because it doens't need to drain fast, because it doesn't get watered frequently.
When using substrate, things may be be different. I grow azalea from seed and basically don't fertilize them. They grow fine.
I did wonder last year if maybe fertilizer does have benefits. So I started to water my seedlings with dilute fertilizer. This worked fine.
So I also used it on my cuttings. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The cuttings for fertilizer burn. But that was in 50/50 peat & perlite.
I noticed pale green colour, even red colour, and signs of chlorosis on some seedlings. I believe this is more caused by a weak root system than by lack of nutrients in the soil.
Additionally, if the humidity is near 100%, little water evaporates from the leaves. That is what we want, because we don't want the cutting to dry out.
However, preventing the evaporation of water from the cutting also means we block the water transport through the cutting. Which means we also block nutrient transport through the cutting.
A plant can take up the most nutrients when it evaporates the most water, because this drives the water from from the roots, through the stem, to the leaves. With cuttings we block this on purpose.
So I believe chlorosis on cuttings is not caused by a lack of nutrients in the soil. It also means that potentially it could be corrected by foliage feeding.

This guy basically roots in 100% sharp sand only:
And he doesn't use any domes & bags, but he is inside a polytunnel, probably in India.

There are many ways to root successfully, but I feel most video examples on youtube are subpar. I'd say this one is good.

This Korean guy mass produces satsuki azaleas (sorry no translation):

I feel many other videos on Youtube are people trying it for the first time and don't have the perfect technique for themselves down yet.


Is bonnie root and grow product good to add to cuttings in general?
 

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Deep Sea Diver

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Best of luck to you. This is actually my first year for azaleas too. I have about 150 cuttings I am waiting on that are about 5 weeks out now.
Nice!
Five weeks out and you should start to see some action for sure!
Cheers
DSD sends
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Hello DSD, thank you for the additional advice and tips. Your Azalea Wars thread and Glaucus’ posts are actually one of the first I read before posting this, and I found a lot of useful information on both - quite nice to find someone who loves azaleas like I do!

Thank you! I really do enjoy azaleas. Little known fact, we keep about 20 other species of bonsai at the’ ranch’

Just a question, from my understanding whips are quite tall plants which are quite thin and don’t have much branching. Is there any benefit to growing them like this such as to thicken the trunk quicker etc? Unless you cover this in the next Azalea Wars thread aha.

Thanks for asking!

Whips are specifically grown out without any secondary branches so they can be wired and bent into just about any shape of primary structure one can imagine. No boundaries. Afterwards branches are grown out.

The key is to grow these tall enough before it’s too late to bend. Too early and the structure isn’t complete… too late… we’ll I’ve a Pauls Scarlett Hawthorne that’s two years old. It’s gotta be bent soon or it will be too stiff to work and the chance of snapping off the whip will be very high.

Bending whips is a whole ‘nother dimension of in our discipline.

Cheers
DSD sends
 
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Deep Sea Diver

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Is bonnie root and grow product good to add to cuttings in general?


Ya know, I’m not really sure. Too much IBA is reputed to slow growth, I shy away from go faster items, especially when one is new to the discipline. There have been so many on the market it makes my brain spin….

…and yet… it’s worth a decently designed experiment with-a decent n value to see if there is a marked difference.

Azaleas are indeed the perfect subject. Be careful to at least have test groups of the same specific cultivars. As @Glaucus would also tell you, comparing an Eikan’s growth to a Kazan would reveal nothing about the product’s effectiveness.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

Shibui

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Everyone has their own way to grow from cuttings and most of those work which shows that cuttings can be grown under a wide range of conditions and techniques.
I tend to pot up cuttings quite early. As mentioned above it is easier to separate them before the roots get too entwined. Having said that, if there's enough roots to be tangled then breaking a few as you unpot won't hurt.
To check progress I often put fingers between the stems, turn the pot upside down and gently lift the pot off. The cutting mix usually retains the shape so you can slide the pot back on without disturbing things if no roots. If I can see roots showing around the edge of the soil that's enough to pot on. There's often a few that have not rooted and they can be put back in the prop mix after the good ones are potted.

Fertilizer does not burn new roots. A root tip is a root tip no matter how far from the stem it is. They all absorb water and nutrients the same so burning young roots is a myth.
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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Hi,
From a nursery perspective I can add another way of doing the azalea cuttings. You should be able to buy online what we use at work. The plug tray option has anywhere between 50-120 holes/plugs. Yes it takes up more room but you don’t have to disturb any roots. Can leave them literally months without the need to repot. Not the perfect ‘way’ to grow cuttings for bonsai I guess, and OP probably doesn’t have 100’s to do!!
My thoughts, Charles.
 

Glaucus

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Everyone has their own way to grow from cuttings and most of those work which shows that cuttings can be grown under a wide range of conditions and techniques.
I tend to pot up cuttings quite early. As mentioned above it is easier to separate them before the roots get too entwined. Having said that, if there's enough roots to be tangled then breaking a few as you unpot won't hurt.
To check progress I often put fingers between the stems, turn the pot upside down and gently lift the pot off. The cutting mix usually retains the shape so you can slide the pot back on without disturbing things if no roots. If I can see roots showing around the edge of the soil that's enough to pot on. There's often a few that have not rooted and they can be put back in the prop mix after the good ones are potted.

Fertilizer does not burn new roots. A root tip is a root tip no matter how far from the stem it is. They all absorb water and nutrients the same so burning young roots is a myth.

What do you mean 'fertilizer burning roots is a myth'? Fertilizer burns the leaves. I had seedling and cuttings in the same soil mix, under the same conditions. They were all doing well. Then applying the fertilizer to the seedlings had no adverse effects.
But applying them to the cuttings resulted in most of them losing all leaves eventually. Fertilizer dehydrates the leaves through osmosis. I can't fully explain why this happened to cuttings, but not seedlings, though.
Azaleas are plants that live in nutrient-poor soil anyway. Usually when an azalea looks deficient it is not because of a lack of nutrients. But because of bad soil pH or stressed roots.
But I grow in a mix with potting soil, not pure kanuma. So it is not 1 to 1 translatable.

As for rooting powder/IPA hormone, I have seen no effect on the success rate. The ones without powder already had a near 100% success rate anyway. Not sure if it can help go from a 60% success rate to say 80%. Or help get more roots quicker.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Hmm.…. Let’s scroll back for a moment and take a look at an over fertilization scenario.

Say one prewaters their azalea and then adds way too much liquid fertilizer (Nutrients).

This is ok at first as prewatering helps ensure the osmotic pressure to absorb water inside the root cells is higher then the outside. (Less water concentration on the inside of the cells then outside). So the root cells uptake water and only the amount of nutrients it normally can uptake….… leaving a higher level of nutrients outside the cells then inside.

Once the area surrounding the root cells becomes drier, the excess nutrients have nowhere to go and the osmotic pressure reverses.… As there is a lower concentration of water in the area outside the root cells.

At this point the root cells have to give up water, becoming dehydrated. (Of course the level of dehydration will vary depending on how much excess nutrients are surrounding the cell.) If the level of dehydration is too great, the root cells can be severely damaged and that’s the end of an azalea.

But let’s say it’s not enough to kill the azalea, but enough the water flow is reduced up the plant.

Since the roots are giving up water, reversing the normal flow, the rest of the plant gets shorted. Naturally the areas furthest away from the roots are the areas that get little or no water. That’s the tips of the leaves. The cells in the leaf tips become dehydrated and turn brown.

This looks like the azalea’s leaves are “burned”. Frequent watering can help flush out the excess nutrients.

So roots can become dehydrate and leaves also.

In summary, this is why azalea bonsai folks are told to fertilize weakly, weekly. I recommend saying weakly every 10-14 days depending on the weather conditions, but that doesn’t rhyme…

For cuttings, with no roots at all, the situation shows up even faster as the cells in the base of the cutting become dehydrated, cutting down the flow of water to the 3-4 few leaves at the tip of the cutting, dehydrating the leaves and killing the cutting .

So the DSD hypothesis on why spraying fertilizer on cutting leaves seems to work…..

If one waits at least 4-6 weeks when an azalea cutting shows positive signs of forming roots, then sprays the leaves (not the soil!) with a very mild fertilizer spray, this situation reverses.

Then the cells in the leaves become slightly dehydrated, increasing demand for a higher sap flow up the cutting. Higher sap flow in azaleas normally means increasing size or quantity of these cells, building up the size of the cutting.

Cheers
DSD sends
 
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