Propagation of conifers by cuttings in winter is easy
Landscape designers and amateur gardeners have long and deservedly liked conifers. They look decorative, as a rule, drought tolerant and not demanding in care, and diseases, and their pests do not damage as often as most deciduous crops. There are several ways to get a seedling of a coniferous plant. The easiest is to buy at a garden center or nursery. But this is the most expensive way. And winter is the best time for this.
The advantages of coniferous grafting over other methods of acquiring seedlings
When buying ready-made seedlings of conifers, as a rule, we acquire an already viable plant - this is an undoubted plus of purchase. The older it is, the more expensive it is - a minus. In addition, we can sometimes buy something that is not stated by the seller at all, and the quality of the seedling may not be the best.
When buying, be careful and carefully inspect the plant. The needles should be saturated, bright colors inherent in this variety. The crown should also correspond to all aesthetic parameters, not be one-sided, curved, and in the case of narrow and columnar forms not have several tops. Yes, all these defects can be corrected by proper care and proper haircut, but it is best to avoid this even at the stage of purchase.
Buying seedlings is good, but this is not our method. We want to grow with our own hands. This can be done by collecting and sowing seeds of conifers, although many of them will require long-term stratification.
Read more about stratification in article 6 of the rules for stratification of seeds at home.
But with this method, you are likely to lose those properties and features that were inherent in this particular variety. To make it clearer: by collecting seeds of blue spruce, as a result, you will get mainly green seedlings, and by collecting seeds of a beautiful columnar thuja, you will get something shapeless and shaggy.
The third option remains - propagation by cuttings. It is with this method that the resulting seedling will have the whole set of characteristic features of the mother plant — both the shape and color of the needles.
Winter is a great time to deal with cuttings of conifers. And the gardener has plenty of time during this period, but this is done simply. True, in this barrel of honey there was a fly in the ointment: not all coniferous plants propagate by cuttings. For example, juniper and thuja are good (thuja is even very good), spruce is worse, but this method of propagation is not suitable for pine. Therefore, before embarking on it, study the plant, read about the methods of its reproduction.
Harvesting cuttings of conifers
And now, actually, let's get started. You need to find an interesting plant for you - a donor and tear it off, yes, yes, just tear off the blank for the cuttings. Do not use a knife or pruner; this is done by hand. Find one or two year growth and tear it from the plant so that there remains a piece of wood from the previous year. That is, a torn branch should have, as they say, a “heel”. It is very simple to do this with your own hands - with a sharp movement, the branch "leaps off" (sorry for the not quite correct expression) from the mother plant.
A few of my observations: if you take a workpiece from a vertical, narrow plant, it is better to take vertical shoots from the upper part, and if you want to root a creeping or spherical shape, then you can take a branch from any part.
Do not grind, large cuttings have a greater supply of nutrients and they are more likely to survive to form their own roots, that is, to root (the optimal length is 8-15 cm). If you procure future cuttings far from home, stock up on a plastic bag where you put them. At home, you can store twigs wrapped in a bag in the refrigerator or basement for a couple of days.
Preparation of cuttings for planting in the ground
The next operation is to clear the needles of the lower part of the workpiece by about 2 cm, it is at this depth that the stalk will be buried in the soil substrate. To reduce the evaporation of moisture, the needles on the upper part can be trimmed a little, but by no means all, photosynthesis needs a cuttings, maybe even more than an adult plant.
Very often, coniferous plant cuttings do not take root, not because they dry out, but because they are affected by diseases, the spores of which are inevitably present on them. Therefore, the next important step is to disinfect the cuttings, for which it is immersed in a fungicide solution, for example, Fundazole. This is not just a short dipping, but immersion in a solution for several minutes so that the drug penetrates into the internal vessels of the handle (this is a systemic drug).
Then you can stimulate future root formation, having stood the cuttings according to the instructions according to the instructions in any stimulant: “Kornevin”, “Heteroauxin”, honey, aloe juice, etc.
Planting cuttings in the substrate
And now comes the moment of planting cuttings in the substrate. As a substrate, you can use something loose: sand (but you must first disinfect it, say, in the oven), peat (treated with a fungicide), perlite, vermiculite, or a mixture thereof.
The substrate before planting the cuttings should be moistened, but do not dilute the dirt, it must be moist. Cuttings are stuck to the depth of the needles removed from them (2 cm). It is important here not to stick them too thickly, make a gap between them, they should not touch their needles. In places of contact with high humidity, moisture will stagnate and decay processes will begin, which is not permissible.
But how to ensure high humidity - the key to good rooting? A container with planted cuttings, whether it be a box, a container or a flower pot (the container must be with openings for water to escape and air to the roots) needs to be covered with something transparent, transmitting light, tight and holding moist air inside. There are many solutions. In amateur conditions - these are glass jars, cut plastic bottles (colorless), plastic film ...
Conditions and care for coniferous cuttings in the first months
That's all. Now we are waiting. It will take a long time to wait - 2, and sometimes 3 months. All this time, air the cuttings once a day, removing the can for half a minute, if necessary, moisten from a spray bottle, and spray with fungicide when the first signs of mold or something suspicious appear.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the temperature. According to my observations, the first time (2-3 weeks) the cuttings are better suited for cool + 16 ... + 18 ° C, and then the temperature should be raised to + 22 ... + 24 °.
For a good rooting of cuttings of conifers, they also need light. Winter cuttings, with all its advantages (there is time and you can control the temperature), has a big minus - without additional illumination few cuttings will take root or nothing at all. Get at least a regular 10-watt LED lamp and place it over the cuttings.
The rooting process has begun. But do not rush to rejoice. For example, junipers can “depict life” all three months, but at the same time they have already dried up, and the needles easily crumble when touched. It happens ... Apparently, one of the important factors was violated. Analyze the whole chain:
- Shank - fresh not overdried;
- The substrate is light, sterile, breathable;
- Normal humidity - both overdrying and overmoistening are not suitable;
- Sufficiency of air - it must come to the needles (ventilate), and to the roots (holes);
- Light - cuttings may die from direct sunlight, and without additional illumination they will be poorly rooted.
When to plant the received seedlings in a permanent place?
It is not worth doing this before next fall. Roots formed, but they are so small and vulnerable that it is better for them to create more comfortable conditions. If rooted cuttings in the total capacity, then after 3-4 months, very carefully plant them in separate containers with a full-fledged soil mixture for conifers - either purchased or own production.
Well, then it all depends on the culture, care and climate. Say, with good care, the thuja will grow well by the fall and in the southern regions it can be planted in open ground. In the case of frosty winters, if there is concern, it is better to leave the young plants in containers, and place them in a bright, light room at a temperature of + 0 ... + 6 degrees or dig them directly into the ground with containers.
Important “little things” of successful coniferous cuttings
And a few "little things" in conclusion. Do not fertilize rooted cuttings. And in general with coniferous crops it is better to underfeed than to overfeed. In my opinion, adding compost to the trunk circle once a year is an excellent solution.
When preparing cuttings for rooting (especially if there are a lot of them from different plants), make labels where and from what they were torn off. Do not rely on memory. When it comes to planting in a permanent place in the garden, the small plant still does not show itself whether it will be a “ball” or a “candle”.
It is very convenient for rooting to use modern large-capacity plastic containers made of transparent plastic with a lid. And spraying the cuttings is easy, and airing, and a thermometer can be placed. It is only advisable to pour a thick layer of pebbles at the bottom, like drainage, and put containers with cuttings on it. By the way, old clay pots are very good as containers - the roots breathe in them.
Here, perhaps, are all the subtleties and difficulties of rooting cuttings of conifers in winter. Sound complicated? No, in fact, everything is simple, but for a gardener - interesting!
I wish you success!