Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hardwood Cuttings

I took about 60 japanese maple cuttings. I bought a rather large Shojo maple, with red bark and leaves. The trunk is grafted, but it is very close to the soil line, and it has barked up so the green base color is masked. The root spread is marvellous and there is a good movement and taper to the trunk. However, I cut about 6 feet off the top. I cut the branches into 6 to 8 inch (15-20cm) sticks, keeping care to know which tip was the growing tip and which was the rooting tip. I soaked these in a bucket of water over lunch, about an hour. I coated the growing tips with rooting gel, which I allowed to dry on, sealing the cuts. Then I planted the cuttings in a bundle in a pail of lava rock, on about a 30 degree angle to facilitate drainage and bury the cuttings deeper.
1) Take cuttings now. In the dormant season the plant barely lives or dies. It will spend the cold season trying to survive the cuts made. The cuttings will undergo the same process, healing. If the cutting succeeds in healing its base cut by the warm season, then it will quickly throw out roots and survive to grow. If the hardwood cutting is taken in spring, the plant will heal through the spring growth and have trouble putting out enough roots to survive summer.
2) Though the species is grafted, I think the non-grafted cuttings will be healthy and vigorous. Grafting provides increased growth and improved hardiness. In Victoria, hardiness is not necessary. The increased growth primarily helps nurseries which sell product based on size. Speedy growth means more profit. The small amount of decreased vitality makes no difference to the bonsai artist. Also, it is not too serious a decrease.

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