Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Propagation Table

It's pretty amazing how you can cut off 10 parts of one plant and get 10 brand new plants.

A Begonia luxurians cutting sending out some new roots
That's what I did with this palm leaf begonia (Begonia luxurians).  What's the secret to getting them to root?  Well, there are a lot of secrets.  Here is the process I took:

1 - Cut off a non-flowering growing tip of about 4" at a node.
2 - Dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
3 - Place the cutting in a seed tray using a 50/50 peat/pearlite mix (or any sterilized potting mix).
4 - Create a humid environment for your rootless cuttings so they won't dry out.  In this case, I used a large zip-lock bag.
5 - Place the cuttings on a heat mat.  Yes, this step is necessary.
6 - Water them.
7 - Be patient and keep the cutting under an optimum amount of humidity (enough so they don't dry out but not so much that mold will easily grow).  You can see in the picture below, I opened the ziplock bag to let some moisture out.
8 - New plants need a lot of bright, indirect light, otherwise they will wither away and die.  I put them right under a giant fluorescent light and it works great.

Aeonium cuttings
These aeonium cuttings also started out as one plant.  The trick with these was to let them sit on a shelf for several days after cutting them off from the original plant.  These were actually on a shelf for eight days but that's probably a bit excessive.  The cut end needs to form a callus which will enable it to root.  I planted them in individual pots with a mixture of sand and seed starter mix.  Because they are succulents, they can just be left out in the open, no extra humidity needed.  They have bottom heat keeping them at about 65-70 degrees and have already started spreading out their thin, stringy roots into the sandy potting mix.

Below are four Beschorneria yuccoides seedlings (out of several hundred seeds that I tried germinating).  I took the seeds from a plant I've had growing since 2008.

Beschorneria yuccoides
I am insanely stoked about these Fatsia polycarpa cuttings that have rooted.  This is a pretty exclusive plant.  You have to be pretty important to own one.  I own three.

Fatsia polycarpa
These Lobelia tupa seeds germinated much more readily than the Beschorneria seeds.  These are going to feed a lot of hummingbirds!

Lobelia tupa
And finally....if the previous plants haven't been rare enough for you, below is perhaps the rarest of them all.  This is a Schefflera fengii I received as a gift from Kelly Dodson of Far Reaches Farm.  It resembles a Schefflera delavayi but with more serrated leaves.  It's reportedly hardy to 5 degrees F (-15C).  I'm growing it through the winter under a grow light in hopes of getting it big and strong enough to be able to take cuttings off of next spring.

Schefflera fengii


  1. "This is a pretty exclusive plant. You have to be pretty important to own one. I own three."...HaHaHaHaHaHa....

    Now that Schefflera fengii, well it's a good thing I don't live near you or it just might go missing.

    1. Hmmm...I should probably consider putting a lock on the greenhouse :)

  2. YES! that is really exciting. I am in lust with the beschorneria yuccoides and schefflera you have going on there!!

    1. I was really not expecting the beschorneria seeds to germinate but trial and error is a great way to learn!

  3. I've found most begonias to be extremely easy to propagate from leaf cuttings, and have never used either rooting hormones or a heating mat. Regarding Fatsia polycarpa, I've propagated F. japonica by planting leafless sections of stem with 4 or 5 nodes, both horizontally & vertically, which root & put out new growth pretty quickly. It's a bit unnerving to strip the foliage off but it usually just wilts anyway! Looking forward to hearing more about the scheffleras, I just planted S. delavayi this summer and I'm crossing my fingers as the temperatures drop!

    1. Schefflera delavayi definitely has potential in zone 7 and probably zone 6b. It is hardier than both Fatsia polycarpa & F. japonica. Thanks for posting - you have a cool blog!