CUTTINGS AND SEEDLINGS

Cuttings

Multiplication of your "favourite plants" can either take place by means of seed growing or by taking cuttings. The advantage of cuttings is that the genus of the plant is known.

Preparation:
Toprock rockwool propagating blocks (2x2 and 4x4cm) make an excellent medium for cuttings. Submerge the blocks in luke-warm water (20-25 deg C) with a pH value of 5.8 and an EC value of 0.8-1.0ms. Use for example a nail to make small holes in the rockwool. Do not make the holes too big because the cutting has to be firmly placed into the rockwool block. Put the blocks in a propagator.

Taking Cuttings:
Use a sharp scalpel blade to cut strong 8-10cm long shoots from the mother plant. Do not use scissors because this will bruise the stem. Remove the lower leaves and immediately place the cuttings in a bucket of luke-warm water. Roll the lower 1-2cm of the cutting stem through a root hormone powder. Remove excess powder and immediately place the cutting into the propagating block. Make sure that the underside of the cutting is not submerged in the powder. This may cause the channels to clog up as a result of which the cutting will be less capable of absorbing water.

Care:
The young cutting has not developed any roots yet and is incapable of transporting sufficient water and nutrition to the leaves. In order to avoid dehydration, the cuttings must be placed in a moist environment (RH80%). To do this, place the cuttings in a strong propagating box with a safe heating element as soon as possible.

You should spray the cuttings daily with luke-warm water (25 deg C), pH value 5.8 and EC 0.8-1.0ms. Make sure that the blocks also remain sufficiently moist by emerging them in nutrient solution.

Not only the humidity, but also the temperature is essential when taking cuttings.

A high air temperature forces the cuttings to grow upwards. All the available nourishment will be used for this purpose while the cutting should be utilising its energy for the development of roots. Bottom heating is therefore essential. The best way for the cuttings to take root is at a bottom temperature of 21-24 deg C. The speed of the root development is very important. The longer the cuttings take to take root, the greater the chance they will not survive.

As the first roots become visible you can gradually increase the EC to 1.5ms.

Pruning is always a traumatic experience for mother plants. Young shoots in which the plant has invested a lot of energy are removed and the mother plants chemical system is thoroughly shaken. Experienced growers know that the yield of the cuttings diminishes over time. It is therefore advisable to grow new mother plants from seed every year.

Starting the Seeds

During germination the seed awakens from its dormancy. Water is vitally important here, for as soon as the seed has absorbed an adequate amount of water, the seedling begins to create its root system. Next it breaks through its outer shell.

Preparation:
Place some damp paper towels on a plate. Place the seeds on top of them and then put a layer of damp paper towels on the seeds. Cover the plate with another upturned plate so that the seeds are in darkness and the environment remains moist. Place the covered seeds in a warm (21 deg C) spot. Check the seeds every day, wetting the paper towel when necessary. Transplant the seeds when they open and the root tip can be seen. Gently place the seed in a Toprock rockwool propagating block (2x2 or 4x4cm), to a depth of approximately 5mm. Carefully cover the opening with rockwool and moisten the block once more.

Care:
Frequently sprinkle the Toprock rockwool blocks with water. Ensure that the blocks do not become too wet. The seedling uses the spare food present in the seed for growth development. Oxygen is essential for its metabolism. One of the advantages of Toprock rockwool is that it retains a high percentage of air. Ensure that the blocks are not standing in water and that the excess water is able to drain away freely. Toprock rockwool propagating blocks have an optimal climate for the seeds. Keep the seeds warm and damp (21 deg C) in a sturdy propagating box. Remove the cover immediately the seedlings grow above the rockwool blocks.

Young plants:
The young plants at this stage are still very fragile. Do not therefore place them in direct sunlight or below a 400 watt lamp. Ideally place them under fluorescent bulbs, colour Philips 33. Position the light system 5-10cm above the plant tops.

Not only the humidity, but also the temperature is essential when germinating.

A high air temperature forces the seedlings to grow upwards. All the available nourishment will be used for this purpose while the seedling should be utilising its energy for the development of roots. Bottom heating is therefore essential. The best way for the seedlings to take root is at a bottom temperature of 21-24 deg C. The speed of the root development is very important. The longer the seedlings take to root, the greater the chance they will not survive.

As the first roots have become visible you can gradually increase the EC to 1.2ms.