The MGS Forum

Gardening in mediterranean climates => General Cultivation => Topic started by: Fleur Pavlidis on June 20, 2011, 08:56:24 PM

Title: Cuttings
Post by: Fleur Pavlidis on June 20, 2011, 08:56:24 PM
Helena, in answer to your question about pot-bound cuttings etc (, let me tell you about my trusty gravel technique. When I pot on my own rooted cuttings or nursery bought plants which I have to keep over the summer until planting time, I first put a layer of almond-sized gravel into the new pot. When the time comes to plant out, I tip out the plant and tweek out all the gravel from the roots which can now be easily unwound. In the planting hole I make a little mound of friable soil and rest the plant on it so that the roots can spread out and down. I fill in using my hands and poke the soil down with my fingers. If the roots are too long for the hole then I shorten them but I make sure I cut back the top growth too to balance up. I guess you could experiment doing the degravelling before packing the plants for travelling. If a nursery bought plant is desperately pot-bound then I use it as a mother plant and take cuttings.  For instance I have dwarf polygala now dotted around the garden although the mother didn't survive being planted out because it was it was a totally root-bound import. With cistus I just take more cuttings every year because even the ones that survive to root, be potted on and planted out seem to face another hurdle at the second summer when the imperfect growing conditions eventually down them. After that hurdle though it's plain sailing. This C.skanbergii has now smothered the lady.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Helena Wiesner on June 21, 2011, 02:51:58 PM
That sounds a brilliant technique, Fleur, and I'm itching to try it with my next lot of cuttings for France where I can pot up to a slightly larger size. With the really small pots I have to use for Greece (under 1 litre) I'm not sure that there would be enough room for the almond-sized gravel but I'll give that a go too. What size pots do you use when you start the gravel treatment?

I'm very impressed with your C. x skanbergii - it's one I've found more difficult than some of the others that look much less robust. But, of course, the cistuses we took out last year have still to get through their first summer let alone the tricky second one you mention.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Fleur Pavlidis on June 22, 2011, 01:07:37 PM
In answer to your question about gravel in small pot - yes I use it no matter how small the pot but simply avoid the big pieces. Here, I hope - my previous attempts to post this photo have failed - is a recently potted on seedling in a 10 cm pot showing the gravel at the bottom.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Helena Wiesner on June 28, 2011, 12:01:08 PM
John's point about planting smallish plants in the autumn raises the question of when best to do cuttings so that they are a perfect size (big enough to withstand the transport and first summer, small enough to do the same). Up till now, I've done cuttings of rosemaries, cistus, lavanders, salvias, myrtus and so on in October or November to plant out in November of the following year. Some cope with this pretty well despite being in small pots, but this year's phlomis are looking distinctly leggy. And there's still four months plus to go! I'm experimenting with some rosemary cuttings taken this month (June) to see if they're big enough by November. Has anyone else been through this sort of exercise already and can give me some tips?  

Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: John on June 30, 2011, 07:32:48 AM
If your cuttings are quite soft then they could now be toughened up by weaning them into an open environment and perhaps pruning back. Reducing them would help to toughen them up and produce a more bushy plant, assuming that this is appropriate to the type of plant! Perhaps even cutting back for transportation would have the added benefit for packing as well as producing a more bushy plant.
Title: Aptenia cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on October 24, 2011, 10:28:13 PM
Having had some experience of cuttings of Aptenia the last few months (call me an expert - not!)...

I find that stripping-off the lower leaves does not help, whether allowed to callous-over or not before planting. Such cuttings wilt and sulk; many of them shrivel and die.

By contrast, cuttings taken and planted straight away with all leaves still attached, fare much better. They may wilt somewhat for a while, but then they usually perk up and get going. I plant them only shallowly - I make a scrape, lay the cutting in it then cover with soil, maybe with a stone on the stem to anchor it and provide a little moisture retention.

Also, they root well in tap water. I found that any immersed leaves tend to rot (starting with going slimy), so I remove them. You can see from the photos that the roots are formed mainly at the end of the stem, irrespective of whether that corresponds with a node. Photos taken 17 days after going into the water. I can't say how well such cuttings grow when planted in soil, because I am only just about to do that...
Title: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 24, 2011, 09:12:30 PM
Further photo of my water-rooted cuttings - showing how the roots had continued to grow well; top growth, too, including flowers. I wonder how long they would continue to prosper just in water?
I won't be able to tell from these particular cuttings, since I have just planted them out. It will be interesting to see how quickly they establish in soil.
Title: Cuttings
Post by: David Bracey on November 24, 2011, 09:18:49 PM
I wonder if we could make a list of plants that root well in water?  Here`s a small start.

Salix turuso(not strictly mediterranean)

Title: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 24, 2011, 09:24:33 PM
David - good idea - but perhaps best not under 'Cacti and succulents'?

...Which begs me to ask, dear Moderators - please could we have a 'Cuttings' child board under 'Cultivation'?
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Alisdair on November 25, 2011, 08:00:01 AM
We're actually thinking of reducing the number of child boards rather than increasing them, Mike, as a lot of people find the proliferation confusing - it also tends to increase the overall number of topics, which is itself not an unmixed blessing.
But your aptenia posting has prompted us to pull together the cuttings material into a single topic, so thanks for prompting that!
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Umbrian on November 25, 2011, 08:39:57 AM
Plectranthus argentatus roots very easily in water, something I like to keep over the winter in a protected place.
"Mother" plants become too big over the summer to do this easily hence the need for new smaller plants in the autumn. I would think other varieties of this plant would be equally easy to propogate in this way.
I suppose, thinking logically, that any subjects that root along their branches/stems when in contact with the earth or even just general debris , i.e. Jasminium nudiflorum would also generate roots when in water?
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: Umbrian on November 25, 2011, 09:19:25 AM
David mentioned a Salix that roots easily in water and again I would think most Salix do.
About 6 years again when out for an autumn walk on the top of the highest hills near to us I noticed a bushy type of Salix growing very healthily. Due to the position they would only receive rainfall and so it occured to me that it must be fairly drought tolerant. I cut a bunch stems about 40cm long and on returning home put them into a watering can full of water. They were left outside all winter, the water feezing at times for days on end and of course I forgot all about them until the following spring. On rediscovering them I found that the can was a mass of roots. I gently teased them apart and chose the strongest ones and planted them in a line about 8 metres long using 21 "cuttings".with the idea of making a hedge.
Of course I had to water that first summer to establish them and less frequently the following year but they all grew away strongly and as they started to make growth and produce side branches I wove these along wires stretched along the length of the row, the first at a height of about 20cm followed by a second as the need arose.
My woven hedge is now about a metre and a half tall and receives no irrigation. It is strong and healthy and makes an interesting talking point in the garden. All it cost me was a lot of fastidious trimming and weaving during the first 4 years when I was training it but now all I do is give it a haircut, once in spring and again during the summer.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: David Bracey on November 25, 2011, 09:53:43 AM
Do you know the species....for the list? Thanks.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 25, 2011, 09:53:54 AM
Nicely done Umbrian!
My elder sister does the same thing with willows; mind you, she lives in Caithness, so there's no shortage of rain for her.

Definite one for the cuttings-in-water list: basil (Ocimum), particularly columnar Greek basil (I notice nobody has replied to my question about that) (
All my (many) basils have been through cuttings in water. I have found, however, that later in the season (perhaps from October onwards), basil cuttings are not keen to root. Cuttings taken in spring and summer start to show roots in about ten days, as I recall.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: JTh on November 25, 2011, 11:50:20 AM
Lavenders should be on the list, propagation by  soft cuttings in spring is recommended. I have not tried to propagate them myself, though.
Title: Lavender cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 25, 2011, 02:43:24 PM
I had good success with lavender cuttings taken in October, inserted in pots of gritty soil outside; about 90% success rate (planted out in spring).
Title: Re: Cuttings in water
Post by: Alisdair on November 25, 2011, 04:54:37 PM
Fig tip cuttings root easily and abundantly in water, then pot off easily.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 25, 2011, 05:12:58 PM
Ooh Alisdair - that is interesting. ...Or it might be...
Do you mean any figs or Ficus carica or F. pumila or F. benjamina/microphylla/elastica?
Title: Re: Cuttings in water
Post by: Alisdair on November 25, 2011, 05:27:49 PM
I think any ficus would oblige. My personal experience is with the eating figs Black Hamburg and (delicious, many variant spellings) Bourjasotte Grise.
Willows are proverbially easy. In the UK we fill hedge gaps by just sticking a willow twig or branch Salix alba in the soil of the gap in early winter.
The trouble with some other subjects rooted in this way is the difficulty of reconciling them to living in soil instead.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 25, 2011, 06:09:37 PM
Thanks Alisdair,
I will give some figs a try (I recently tried F. pumila in soil, with zero success).
I concur - it can be difficult to wean some water-rooted cuttings off water and onto soil.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on November 30, 2011, 10:46:50 AM
Another one for the water-rooting list: Jacaranda mimosifolia - very easy and prolific rooter, at least in my experience using small (~1cm diameter) woody stems.

Sambucus nigra, too. But I don't know how well that copes with a mediterranean climate. Perhaps S. mexicana (from the Sonoran Desert) would be better.
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: MikeHardman on January 16, 2012, 08:48:52 PM
Another one for the water-rooting list: Fuchsia.
...prompted by Daisy's posting (

And Sambucus nigra.
... prompted by
Title: Re: Cuttings
Post by: David Dickinson on November 16, 2013, 10:55:28 PM
Saw these old postings for the first time today by following the link in a posting earlier today. Don't know if the topic has been transferred or abandoned but thought it might be useful to add the following to the list of cuttings rooting easily in water.

Tradescantia andersoniana group (snapping of a cutting just below a node and standing it vertically on damp tissue works best for me)
Tamarix (don't know which species it was but thin hardwood cuttings taken in spring produced roots within days)
Nerium oleander (very easy with green woody stems in summer, roots emerging within a week - autumn cuttings were much less successful)
Hoya carnosa (very easy for me in summer)
Delairea odorata (still Senecio mikanoides?), Senecio macroglossus and  Senecio confusus (good though not total success)

Title: Re: Cuttings - Ficus carica (fig)
Post by: MikeHardman on November 17, 2013, 03:38:48 PM
Alisdair commented on fig cuttings rooting easily in water (this thread, 25 November 2011)

I agree.
Here's the proof.

On 11apr13, I took a 30cm cutting from a local largish tree, cultivated type unknown, but a black one, I think. I stripped most of the leaves and stood it in a plastic bottle of water outside in light shade. Over the ensuing months, I topped it up with water as needed.
By 11jun13, some root-callouses were showing.
By 20aug13, there was algal goo on the stem, but some roots were growing through that into clear water below (and there was a little new foliage at the top).
On 17nov13, I removed the cutting and its roots from the goo + water and planted it out in ordinary unimproved marly soil (cooler day with a bit of rain). The leaves had grown slowly the past three months. I would have planted it out sooner, but did not have the site ready.

My photos show:
01. cutting just before removal from bottle
02. close-up of good roots in clear water (the algal goo layer does not photograph well)
03. cutting extracted from water, showing the good clump of roots
04. cutting, with roots parted to show they all come from near waterline
05. cutting just planted

I considered trying to wash the algal goo off the roots, but I decided not to. The plant had coped well enough up till now, and washing would only disturb and damage the roots.
I also considered removing the bottom -unrooted- part of the stem, fearing that it might lead to die-back. I decided not to, since it would provide anchorage, and since figs are tough plants used to coping with adverse soil (ie. rubble).

Which is all by way of documentation of my experiment.
Thank you Alisdair for nudging me into doing it.
I aim to post an update in due course showing the fig's progress, hopefully.