1 These are the stems of some beautiful snapdragons I received from a dear friend's garden in Maine. I brought them back to my farm and had them rooted. Some snapdragon varieties that are difficult to find have been successfully propagated from cuttings.
2 All the stems were cut cleanly, and kept moist in plastic containers. Softwood cuttings should be taken from the current season's strong shoots - these have the best potential to root rapidly and grow into new plants.
3 There were a lot of stems to propagate. Propagating from cuttings does replicate a true snapdragon variety, while growing from seed may not. Have you ever propagated snapdragons from existing cuttings?
4 The rooting medium was poured into the plug flats. Ryan mixed a blend of equal parts perlite, vermiculite, sand and some potting soil.
6 Ryan filled the trays to the very top of each cell. The white particles were perlite, a volcanic mineral that improves aeration, drainage and traps moisture, making it available for plant roots.
7 The rooting medium was well-watered before being placed into the flats, so these trays were nearly ready for the cuttings to be planted.
8 Using very sharp snips, or a sharp knife, each long stem was cut down, just above a leaf node, where new leaves would hopefully form. Creating a clean cut also preserved the cells close to the surface of the cutting.
9 Softwood cuttings should be at least four to six inches long, and should be the top part of the stem of each branch - this is the newest growth. These trimmed stems were placed in a pile ready to be planted.
10 Any leaves on the stems should be cut off, so all the energy could be focused on the development of the new root system.
11 Using the blunt end of a pen-sized utility knife, Ryan poked holes into the rooting medium. For snapdragons, using a wooden dibber, or dibble, would be too big. A pen-sized hole was perfect.
12 Each hole was placed in the center of each flat cell.
13 To stimulate growth, the stems were treated with a root inducing substance. Ryan used Hormodin 1, a general purpose rooting compound for propagating plants.
14 It's a light powder containing the root stimulant, indolebutyric acid, that is applied to the stem bottoms.
15 A scoop of the powder was poured into another small cup. This prevents possible contamination of the entire supply of rooting hormone. Although cuttings could go without, root hormone does increase the chances of successful propagation.
16 Ryan dipped the bottom of each stem into the rooting hormone powder and then tapped the cutting, so any excess powder fell off.
17 It only needed a bit - not much. Once a stem was treated, it was placed into a cell hole of the flat.
18 One cell for each cutting.
19 Ryan then firmed the soil around the cutting.
20 In a couple of weeks, Ryan will gently tug at each stem to see if any of the cuttings developed roots. If a cutting resists the tug, it means some new roots had grown, and was ready to be transferred to a pot.
21 If after two weeks, there are no roots, it's best to wait another week and check again. Some cuttings could take up to six-weeks to develop root systems.
22 If you're unfamiliar with starting plants from cuttings, it's the plant tissues that contain hormones and regulate growth. Under the proper conditions, the stem cells encourage root cells to develop.
23 Ryan and I are always very excited to see how many cuttings take root.
24 Ryan continued to trim the stems, dip them in root hormone and plant them in the flats. As with all stem cuttings, these were made cleanly and always at an angle.
25 Any large leaves were trimmed off, and all the cuttings were snipped, so they were the same height.
26 Each flat was covered with a plastic top to ensure high humidity around the cuttings. To further improve rooting, the cuttings will get misted on a regular basis.
27 The flats will sit in the greenhouse where temperatures are appropriate, and where they can be in bright light, but not in direct sun. I can't wait until the two week check!!