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PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools:
I have a number of large Yucca plants in my yard that I would like to dig up and transplant. I am not entirely familiar with this type of plant, but have noticed that, likely due to the age of these plants, several trunks have sprouted from the mother plant and have begun growing as what appear to be separate plants. However, these extensions are easily lifted from the ground and show no evidence of independent root development. Can I cut the new plants from the original plant and get these to take root elsewhere?
Following is some information that may help you in transplanting your Yuccas.
From Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide by Mary & Gary Irish (2000, pages 65-68)
In mild winter climates that have hot summers, particularly hot and dry summers, fall planting is best, so that root systems establish through the mild winter before the onset of the stressful summer season. If planted in early spring, plants must be carefully watered and shaded from the sun during the summer to prevent sunburn and debilitating heat stress…When planting agaves [& yuccas], regardless of the soil type, raise the center of the hole slightly, just an inch or so, and plant the center of the plant at the top. The crown of the agave [or yucca] particularly is susceptible to infections, and when the soil inevitably subsides after planting, the crown can sink below the soil line. The practice of raising the center of the planting hole slightly is helpful in all the stemless members of both families to prevent crown rots.
For all plants, begin by digging a shallow hole no more than the depth of the root system….Backfill the planting hole without soil amendments or with a very small amount of compost. Tamp the soil lightly as it is backfilled to prevent excessive settling later...
Moving mature arborescent plants, such as some members of Beaucanea, Furcraea, Nolina or Yucca, is more difficult. These large plants are sensitive to root and stem disturbance, and wounds of the basal growing platform in Yucca can introduce a host of infectious agents into the plant. If possible, it is much more advisable to move such plants when they are young and nearly stemless.
From American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation by Alan Toogood (1999, p. 145)
Uncover the roots of a mature plant. Remove swollen buds (toes) from the parent rhizome, cutting strain across the base of the toe. Pot each toe singly in a free-draining medium, at twice its depth. Water. With bottom heat (59-68 F) the toe will root in 2-3 weeks.
In spring, carefully uncover the base of a sucker. Cut it off at the base where it joins the parent rhizome. Dust the wounds with fungicide. Pot the sucker singly in a free-draining medium, such as equal parts soilless potting mix and fine grit. Keep at 70 degrees F until rooted (12 weeks).
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What is the purpose of the chemical in store-brand rooting hormone? I'd rather not use anything with chemicals when I'm propagating plants. Are there alternatives?
The chemical in rooting hormone (usually Indole-3-Butyric acid) acts as a growth stimulator. In commercial rooting hormone formulations, it may be combined with fungicide to prevent the development of fungus/fungal diseases during the rooting process, as is the case with a common brand, Rootone, which contains Thiram (a fungicide). The Environmental Protection Agency has more information about Indole-3-Butyric acid.
If you would rather not use synthetic rooting hormone, you can skip this stage altogether, or you can try making willow water to encourage rooting instead. University of Arkansas Extension explains how to do this:
"First cut a double handful of one-inch sections of branches from willows and split each one. Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil (if you can catch rain water, that is best). Dump in the willow pieces and leave them to steep overnight. In the morning, the water should look like weak tea. Remove the willow pieces from the water, and soak the bases of your cuttings in it for several hours or overnight. If it has been more than an hour or so since you made the cuttings, cut about half an inch from the ends before placing them in the willow water."
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June 24 2013 12:55:25