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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Campsis, Woody plant cuttings, Woody plant propagation

I have a trumpet vine. I needed to move it, and during the relocating, I also cut its woody upright trunk about 3 feet up, and it was about 6 feet -- the woody part. It had a lot of leaves, or branching growth. I wonder what would I have to do to start a new plant from this part I've cut off?


The best way to propagate the top part of your vine Campsis radicans) is with semi-ripe or hardwood cuttings. North Carolina State University Extension has good general information on propagation. The Royal Horticultural Society's page about Campsis includes information on various propagation methods.

Date 2017-06-08
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Woody plant cuttings, Propagation, Salix

I know you can plant willows from cuttings, but what about weeping willow trees? Can they be grown from a cutting (by an amateur)? If so, how?


Following is a suggestion from American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation, ed. by A. Toogood, 1999, p. 89.
"The most reliable method for propagating weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is by cuttings. Hardwood cuttings of vigorous willows may be as long as 6 feet and planted out immediately to mature faster than standard 8 inch cuttings. Take cuttings in late autumn from new, fully hardened wood that does not need to be very woody. Line them out in open ground, pot them, or place them in bundles in a frost-free sandbed to root. Select those in active growth in spring to pot. Cuttings may also be taken of green or semi-ripe wood. "

Here is additional information from a British nursery called JPR Environmental:
"The best way to propagate weeping willows is first to find a mature tree that you like the look of and then go and ask the owner if you could take a small branch from it in the winter (most are happy to oblige and will tell you about their tree in great detail!).
"Once a source has been identified then look to prepare the ground. Make sure that the site is not near the house and not near any old water pipes etc. - it would be a shame to have to cut it down just when it is getting a good size. A site near water is good, willows like moist soil but do not do well in soil that is waterlogged for long periods. Dig a square pit say 18 inches wide and deep. Break up the soil and add some compost if the soil structure needs it.
"Now is the time to take a cutting. The best time of year is whenever the leaves are off the tree with the optimum being February to early March - so long as there is not a hard frost on the ground. The branch should be between 1 and 2 inches at the base and not more than 6 feet tall. Plant it in the hole that you have made, firming up the soil so that you cannot pull the branch out. If you are in a windy site it may be worth staking the tree and a rabbit guard will protect it from grazing in the first year or so."

Date 2017-01-06
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Woody plant propagation, Rosa, Woody plant cuttings

I am trying to grow roses from cuttings. They are sprouting little leaves but are still under empty soda containers for humidity. When I took a few out of the containers, they promptly shriveled up and died. Should I leave them for another month? I don't want to tug to see if they have roots, as that will disturb them. Do I apply foliar fertilizer?


I have listed a few useful webpages about propagating roses from cuttings below.

To answer your question about leaving them under cover, I think you probably should leave them for at least a brief while, given the very cold weather. I don't think you need to apply foliar fertilizer at this stage. The resources below should offer some additional advice on caring for your cuttings.

John Fisher's book, The Companion to Roses (Salem House Publishers, 1986), says that roses grown from cuttings may take longer to flower than those budded on rootstock, but (if they survive the process) they may live longer and will not sucker. Some roses are easier to propagate from cuttings, such as ramblers and Rosa rugosa, as well as some climbing roses and large-flowered roses.

According to Fisher, cuttings can be taken as early as August. You should choose young shoots with ripened wood that have borne flowers, and lateral shoots rather than leaders. He recommends selecting those shoots growing low on the shady side of the plant, and those with leaf joints that are close together. Make a clean cut just below a leaf joint. The cutting should be about 9 inches long with 2 leaf joints in the top 3 inches. Cut off the tip that has borne the flower and the leaf immediately underneath it. Remove leaves (but not buds) on the lower 2/3 of the cutting, since this is the part that will be planted in the ground. The soil should be a mix of loam and sand mixed down to a depth of about 9 inches, in a pot or V-shaped trench. Before planting the cutting, poke a hole in the soil for it to go into. Moisten the bottom end of the cutting with a cotton ball, and dip it in rooting hormone (or willow water). Put the cutting in the soil and press the soil around it firmly. If you need to protect it from frost, cover it with leaves or sacking during the winter. By summer, it should have formed a root, and should be ready to plant in the fall.

The information below may differ somewhat from these directions, but you may get a general sense of how your methods compare, and whether you want to try any of the methods suggested.

University of California Cooperative Extension
Morrison Gardens
The Southern Garden

Date 2017-05-11
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: fastigiate trees and shrubs, Woody plant cuttings, Hedges

I have an interest in propagating woody plants such as columnar, or more fastigiate types of holly, barberry and others for establishing barrier hedges here in Oregon. Is there any merit to the suggestion that only vertical cuttings be selected from the parent plant, as opposed to selecting other material from lower down, or that which has a less skyward orientation?


I consulted Michael Dirr's Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation (Varsity Press, 2006). What he says about Taxus (yew, not a plant you mentioned, but one which has some upright cultivars) is that "Taxus cuttings are highly topophytic and maintain the growth habit they exhibited on the parent plant." In this case, that would suggest to me that if you wish to encourage a plant with mostly vertical form, then a vertical cutting would be useful *if* that genus of plant has cuttings which echo the shape they had on the original plant.

I don't see any obvious indications that all species of Berberis (barberry) or Ilex (holly) have this characteristic. Ginkgo does, and so a cutting from a horizontally-growing parent plant will retain that growth habit. (See Peter Del Tredici's article on ginkgo trees from Arnoldia, Summer 1991 issue.)

In order to obtain a comprehensive knowledge of which plants exhibit topophysis and which do not, you would need to consult a plant physiologist, or spend a fair amount of time consulting books such as Dirr's mentioned above. Hartmann & Kester's Plant Propagation (8th ed., 2011) says that "plants of certain species produced by cuttings taken from upright shoots (orthotropic) will produce plants in which the shoots grow vertically. Plants produced from cuttings taken from lateral shoots (plagiotropic) will grow horizontally, as occurs with Podocarpus." Alas, this book does not provide a thorough list of plants which do this. The few examples given include: Taxus cuspidata, Norfolk Island pine, Podocarpus, and coffee.

You could always err on the side of caution, and only select upright cuttings. However, in some plants, cuttings from lateral shoots have better rooting rates (such as Rhododendron).

An aside: some species of holly (especially English holly, Ilex aquifolium), and some species of Berberis are considered invasive or noxious in some parts of the U.S. Check your county noxious weed lists before propagating them.

Date 2016-12-23
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August 01 2017 12:36:01