Friday, March 18, 2011

If you cut it.... Will it grow?

This early part of spring has been just gorgeous in my little garden by the sea. My camellias have really bloomed a lot thanks in no small part to being snowed on twice this year. They are blooming their little hearts out as we "speak".

I love to cut and root things. It is like an obsession for me. I have no more room in my yard, but I still can't quit. Sometimes I trade plants with other botanically obsessed people, sometimes I list a few for sale, but mostly I just grow them because I cannot not do it. I know that is very strange, but it is like when you know you were born to teach, or be a nurse etc. I was just born to root and grow........... ( that is what I tell myself anyway.)
This week since my camellias are blooming I thought I would post about propagating them. The absolute best time of year is July and August, after the new growth has firmed up a little. I have rooted some through the winter, but it does seem to take much longer that way. I guess the winter makes everything seem to take longer.....( really it does though, most plants go dormant or semi-dormant when the temperatures fall into the 40's).
I cut 2 of my camellias the other day because I wanted to take a few pictures of my method. As usual there are zilliions of different methods, but this one works for me.
Camellia Japonica
1) Take a cutting of firm new growth with a growth bud and about 4 or 6 leaf nodes.  Make sure the cutting has a growth bud on the end. 

2). Remove all but 2 leaves and then cut those 2 in half. This will leave the cutting a reason to put out roots ( it has to feed the leaves) and removing much of the excess will reduce the stress on the cutting and lower the moisture loss due to transpiration. 

3) Dip the end in a rooting hormone ( like root tone or fast root or clone-x) and stick in a prepared pot with at least 2 or three of the leaf nodes under the potting media. 
Cover the cutting with a plastic bag, or recycled cut soda bottle ( ie. ghetto greenhouse) this will help to reduce the moisture loss and keep the humidity high enough for the cutting not to be stressed to it's shriveling point.
Set it in a shaded place where you will keep it watered. I have watched my grandmother do this with a mason jar, but I am using plastic soda bottles and fitting them to the top of the flower pot.

Camellia Sasanqua:

This is basically the same method. The biggest difference is that the leaves on the sasanqua are smaller and the sasanqua can tolerate more sun and tend to be fall blooming instead of spring blooming varieties. Sasanquas also have growth buds all along the stem instead of just at the ends like the Japonicas.

Here is the hardest part. Camellias are not in a hurry to grow or root or flower. Rooting can take as much as 6 months to a year and after they root, they still don't hurry to grow. Thankfully they are very long lived shrubs and once established with provide you with gorgeous flowers in early spring when most other things are just beginning to wake up from a long winter's nap.
Happy Growing!


Sandra said...

Excellent tutorial! Hope they grow beautifully for you. I did that once with some red-twig dogwood scraps from the county compost pile. It worked great.

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