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Propagation of Sciadopitys verticillata from cuttings (5 Replies)

Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

I am supposed to be a professional plant propagator but I’ve been frustrated in my efforts over the years to reproduce Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys) from cuttings. In spite of reading Dirr’s Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation and following directions precisely, and trying any number of time windows and several different cultivars from different sources, I can’t seem to get a percentage take above 10-20%. Is this normal, or am I just butting my head against a garden brick wall?

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Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I’ll check with Quarryhill Botanical Garden – they grow stuff from seed but their propagator may know. They have a nice grove of Sciadopitys from wild-collected seed.

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Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Bruce – here’s what the propagator at Quarryhill had to say: Fairly good success with 70-75 F bottom heat and intermittent mist, but cuttings take a long time to root. MONTHS.
There’s a trick to them…fresh cuttings have to be soaked 24-48 hours to leach out a resin in their stem.

Maybe you’re either not soaking or not waiting long enough.

Good luck!

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:15 am

Sara–Thanks for your responses, and thanks also to Quarryhill for their information. However, I was previously aware of both of these points
and they do not seem to be the sticking point. The cuttings were soaked for 48 hours and I have waited a year on the latest trails, with only about 15% success, and that’s just to the point that they are ready to leave the flat. Am I perhaps not using a deep enough flat?

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm

And are they just not rooting, or actually dying? As I know you know, sometimes cuttings can take eons – I had some Vitex negundo take a year to put out roots, but they did callus up within a few months so that I knew something was happening. Of course, since they are deciduous, they dropped their leaves and I felt like an idiot misting them, keeping them on heat etc. But damn if they didn’t root eventually. Same kind of thing with Leucadendron (which then rooted, but did not push any new growth whatsoever for about a year, now growing). Since you’re a pro you already know how patient you have to be. I’ll ask Corey what he thinks about the flat depth.

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Posted September 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Bruce –
I realize that you are a pro so forgive the lengthy explanation, but he thinks he’s explaining to ME and he knows that I am no pro! Here is his response to my query about flat depth:

It’s more complicated than just providing a flat depth.
That is, the concept doesn’t depend only on this single measurement.

When a container is irrigated (and this is equally as true for a rooting medium or any standard container medium) and allowed to drain, there remains a height of medium at the base of the container that is completely saturated for a period of time. All of the pores below this level are completely filled with water. This state is called the “container capacity” (please see page 3, second paragraph:

The height of this saturation zone directly correlates to the particle size of the medium.

With an intermittent mist system, it is very likely that the flat is constantly kept at container capacity…or close to it.

The base of the cutting should not be submerged. In other words, the base of the cuttings cannot sit at or below the saturation zone.

The flat must be sufficiently deep to hold the cutting sufficiently submerged while maintaining the base above this saturation zone.

Therefore, the need for depth in a flat is related to the height of this saturation zone AND the depth to which the cuttings are stuck.

I realize this is a complicated explanation for a simple concept!

Typically, I use grade 100 perlite (fine) in 4″ pots. The saturation zone for this perlite, even when moderately compressed, is approximately 1/4 inch high.

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