Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

October 5, 2009

Propagating from cuttings

I was able to get a few things done in the Greenhouse tonight and pictures are here to be shared!
You can see that the greenhouse is still quite a mess and, if you know me, you know it may well stay that way for a while. Work cannot wait though, so the propagating has begun.

Pop quiz time... (You did study right?):
Q: What do tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatillos have in common?
Well, one answer is that I gathered cuttings of all of them before the freezing weather came and another answer might be that I'm cloning, or at least trying to clone, all of them! I'll tell you real answer before I finish.

Before I started working with a particular cutting, I made sure that I had some cups prepared for them. If you have a glut of old glasses or mason jars they would be a great reusable option here. I don't, so clear plastic cups it is. I covered the tops of the cups with some plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band and poked a few breathing holes in the top with a knife. (You can see the temp inside when I got home from work was 63 deg(F). Our actual high for today was only 45 deg(f) so I guess the greenhouse is doing its job so far. We'll see what happens as winter approaches.Before I get to the next step, I thought I'd cover what I looked for in my original cuttings that I took from the parent plant.
The best cutting stock to use from your original plant should be taken from the part of the plant that is still actively growing. Plants have a feature called apical dominance that helps to control where the plants hormones go to tell it to create new growth. Starting with actively growing pieces of the plant gives you a head start in the right direction. For my tomatoes this was from the suckers that I would normally have pruned off and some of the tops that were vigorous and showing new growth.

Below you can see one of the original cuttings that I took from a Heartland Tomato. I made the cutting a little larger than what I would have wanted to have as a final size.The marks on the photo are roughly the places that I made trimming cuts to pare it down to the size I wanted. A couple of considerations are to make sure that the cutting will fit inside the cup without tipping it over. Also, this cutting has no root system so it's not going to be able to support a lot of superfluous growth so trimming off some otherwise healthy leaves is actually a good idea.

The reason I made the cut to the already removed leaf section on the right of the stem was because it had been removed roughly and left ragged ends that I felt may open the plant up for rot or disease. Also, if your familiar with the tomatoes tendency to throw up shoots from the crotch of the leaf and stem sections, this is because that is a part of the plant that contains new buds that the growth hormones in the tomato plant concentrate on telling to generating new growth. That new growth can be determined by the plant to generate new leaves and stems. It can also be told to produce new roots when the plant needs them. That's what I need so I wanted to make sure it was clean and ready to grow.After trimming up all of the cuttings for a particular variety that I was working with, I inserted two into each cup through a couple of the holes in the plastic wrap. I put two into each cup purely because of space and time. I only have so much of both so better to optimize than to not get things done.

I anticipate that I should have at least two weeks before I really need to worry about replanting, but more than likely it will end up being more like three. This is a good thing because I need to sterilize some pots for them, as well as to work out some more passive heating solutions for the greenhouse.
For now, you may remember the seed starter that I built last spring, well it's the new clone base camp. I can cover it with an additional layer of 6 mil plastic and keep some water bottles in there for thermal mass to keep things warm over night and with any luck (a lot wouldn't hurt) things will work out for the best.

So then, do you know yet what the four plants that I mentioned I'm trying to clone have in common?

If you guessed that they're all members of the family Solanaceae then you'd be absolutely CORRECT!

The great thing is, that Solanaceae plants are very good rooters and are probably one of the better plants for this type of propagation. So wish me luck!

Till next time... Grow on!


ChicagoMike said...

What a great summary!

Whats next at Casa de Paul?

An Orangery?

Paige said...

Perfect. I'll be setting up a similar experiment in my kitchen to see how that works. Thanks for the step by step AND the photos!

Keep us posted, please.

Love the greenhouse.

Purrfect Haven said...

photos are super and I have gathered a great deal from your tutorial. Thanks! Helen

Nikki Tate-Stratton said...

Ambitious project! I'll be following your progress with interest!

Anonymous said...

It's so great that you have a greenhouse -I read back posts but still not sure -how are you going to heat it? I love the tutorial on proprogating also