This was given to me back in September. It came off a plant that was about 6 feet tall and several arms or growths or whatevers. The person who gave it to me told me to keep it cool and little or no water till spring. As usual, I'm worried. For a few weeks it just laid on one of my plant shelves then I decided to just stick it in LECA. Left it alone and dry there for another few weeks. Then I couldn't stand it any longer and watered it. Remember it's in LECA so it dries relatively fast. It's in my house which runs about 62-72 degrees. I think it's shriveling a LITTLE...nothing severe yet. I don't think it's safe to put it in my garage. It can get near or slightly below 32F in there during some of our colder days/nights. Unheated rooms are at only a few degrees cooler.
I'd hate to lose this baby. What, if anything, should I do?
what's LECA? Looks like you have a Euphorbia ammak cutting.. these are very easily rooted. I would stick it in a somewhat dry cactus mix (LECA?) about 6" down and try to avoid the temptation of watering it for 4-6 weeks in that temperature zone, unless you are giving it a lot of direct sunlight (then it might be encouraged to root faster... but also might burn a bit if not used to sunlight). Then water. It is pretty hardy and if you overwater it and it starts to rot, cut off the rotten part and try again, this time coating the new surface with rootone and let cure a week before trying it again.
You should move it away from any window that gets any direct sun exposure. I would leave it in the prone position on the shelf till you are ready to root it. Otherwise it can curl towards a light source or skin will shrink in an irregular way. As long as it gets no sun exposure and is in shade or covered with a a sheer curtain, etc. it can take any temperature up to over 90F and overnight cold to high 20s, through all seasons for as long as 2 years and it will be okay.
You want the plant to stay completely dormant till Spring as you suggested and it should remain so till outdoor night temperatures no longer drop below 50F. I will give you the best recipe for your zone.
We do things different in Southern CA. But I've done this dozens of times over the years and the procedure I recommend is what I have done even when I lived and had unheated greenhouses in the mountains.
I am not familiar with the use of LECA, though I know what it is. You must keep the branch base where the cut was made completely dry till you are ready to root it. If it ever gets damp before the rooting period you must dry it again and if you have rooting hormone, use a narrow paint brush and paint the powder over the entire lenghth that you will be putting underground while you root it.
I recommend whenever you are ready to root it that you move it into either pure perlite or pumice that has been watered with rainwater mixed with a solution of vitiman B1 "for plants" at a rate of 1 tablespoon per GAL. It is already healed over so it is ready to put into damp rooting mix. You don't need any organic at all. The only beneit offered by organic during the rooting process is to provide stimulatation through the acid present in the organic. When you add B1 to the perlite/pumice it will substitute that acid requirement. You can do this using these items indoors as long as you don't do it too early, say; begin a month before the night temps warm up enough to move it outdoors.
perlite/pumice treatment allows you to take a peek at the plant occassionally to see if things are okay.
Also, both pumice and perlite can be much more effectively sterile than potting soil. Often plants develop infections while rooting in organic. A fungal infection under the skin can stay with the plant and cause ugly spots/streaks and weaken growth throughout the life of the plant. Sterile rooting minimizes that problem.
Roots grow in the beginning from starches stored within the plant. once "kicked-off" at the right root temperature with non-toxic moisture, new leaf-tissue begins to form at the above-ground branch ends and margin leaves.
If there isn't enough light the plant will grow weak light-seeking tips that will disfigure the plant.
Once it is moved outside cover it with a couple of layers of sheer curtains or in this case a couple of pair of ladies old hosiery is great. (I use those all the time for a lot of horticulture purposes.) The layers can be removed one at a time over a 3 week period and it will be okay as long as the plant is growing.
I guess I went way over for this nice plant. You probably already know all the stuff about rooting, its just I learned much of this stuff by experimentation over the last 40 years.
sorry if its too much
good luck, don't forget to post images of the rooted growing plant. Its a beauty!
oops sorry PB, nobody had responded whenever I started this and I got no message saying you had posted!
Ok...Based on both Bob & Bob's comments I decided to pull it out of the LECA (Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, see photo). Glad I did. End of it looks like there is might be some mold (powdery black). I'll cut the bad portion off and put it someplace cooler. So if my garage stays above, say 30F, it should be ok out there?
BTW...One use of LECA is for what is called "semi-hydroponics". I have some orchids in it and they LOVE it. In the same way that over watering cacti will kill them, same goes for orchids. Most need to dry out before watering again. LECA holds moisture but because of the generally spherical nature of it, air can circulate around the roots. They are planted in somewhat tall clear pots that have holes drilled about an inch or so up from the bottom. To water you fill the container and the water drains out except for what's below the holes. Water then wicks up thru the LECA.
Thanks to both of you for all the input. More is ALWAYS better in my book.
Well, Sharon, you did get replies from two of the most knowledgeable C&S members here! How lucky for you! It is a neat plant hope all goes well for you...how can it not! Let us know how the cutting behaves! Good luck! sue