I have been trying for some time to start from cuttings, and have only had minimal success, any suggestions? I dip in rooting hormone, open the stem (dilate it a little) and put it in the startng blocks, rather than soil.
Yep - that's all you can do - fresh cut stems + rooting hormone + moist, well draining potting mix + baggie and tie. Tie the bag shut around the stem and wait - as was said before - some strike and some don't.
I had tried every technique for years with minimal success. I found that rooting hormone always caused some type of rotting. One day my husband's grandmother and I were talking, and she said I was trying too hard.
I never thought of that!
*This is going to be wordy, but I want to address as many questions as I can from the start.
These are her directions:
The Mix - In a black 1/2 to 1 gallon nursery bucket filled 1/2- 1/3 full of sand (NOT playground kind - it's too fine). Add 2 handfuls -- 3 - 4 cups (no exact measurements; ) of potting or gardening mix/soil. Make sure to partially cover the holes with broken clay pot/other or you'll lose your sand. Dampen sand mix with WATER. (It has something to do with the silica.)
Cuts - this works for tip cuttings & upto pencil sized stem cuttings. Make sure to have at least 6 nodes on each cutting, no more than 9 - You will understand why so many in preparing stems. I do this when I prune on Feb 14th. She says it can be done anytime though. Put cutting directly in a bucket of water. *If you cannot pot up the same day, place cuttings in water for upto 3 days. Make sure you keep the correct ends up.
Preparing Stems - Take cutting out of water, remove all but the top leaves. Then cut at least 1/4" under the last node - no shorter. (This should be the end that was cut from the bush and set in water. If you have long cuttings and can make 2 starts. Just make sure you remember which end is up. Example: I cut all top of starts flat & bottom of starts at an angle until I make final cuts for rooting.)
Put directly in damp sand upto and including the next nodes (2 nodes in sand), keeping at least 3 nodes above the mix. Do not push to the bottom of the bucket. It should be "suspended" in the mix. Lightly press the sand around each start - so they're snug.
Place bucket in a shaded (not full shade) area. This year I used an unheated, make-shift green house -- but have had just as much success by putting in the shade of steps facing eastern sun.
Keep sand moist, check it every 3-4 days and water as needed. Do not let dry out. Use light watering - hard watering may displace starts. That's it.
It sounds more complicated than it is... but just cut, water, mix, cut & stick, shade, water. I do several in one bucket, just leave about 2" between.
I have the best success every time now!
I just did 4 pots in February. I check one cutting/pot every couple of weeks. As of last week, I have root nodes on some and small roots on others. All look to be doing great. I leave in shade until roots are about 1", then I slowly move to full sun over a weeks time. Then plant on to larger individual pots with regular potting mix. They are usually ready to move to the ground by April/May here in zone 9A.
** Do not worry if the leaves you left on eventually fall off. Make sure you are keeping the mix moist. They do fall off, but will eventually make new leaves. So just keep going.
I hope this works out as well for you as it has for me.
I just stuck some of my spring prunings in the ground and they already have little leaves on them...no hormones or special soil, just cut off a hunk and poked it in the ground...but we've had a really cool, wet spring.