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Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (September/October 2001, page 196)

In the Mailbox
by Greg Sytch

Lately I have noticed many questions regarding the shipment of leaves and cuttings (without soil) and how to best handle them. Since I often send cuttings in this manner and receive them this way, I thought a little timely advice would be prudent.

Cuttings should be shipped fresh, in a sealed plastic bag, and arrive via USPS Priority Mail or other fast method. Upon receipt, they should still be turgid, the box not hot from being left out in the sun, and should be unwrapped immediately.

Place all fresh cuttings in a clean bowl of cool water for at least 4-6 hours before planting. This will help to invigorate the cuttings for planting. When you are ready to plant the cuttings, choose a well-lit area out of sunlight, and provide good humidity. Most areas of the country experience rather warm sultry summer days so a shady spot under a tree could be an excellent area to root cuttings, provided it is not too hot. Otherwise cover with plastic, ventilate with a tiny hole and prepare a nice pourous soil mix that includes perlite at half rate.

Make a fresh cut, dip in rooting hormone if you choose, and bury the stems. For canes, shrubs, etc. bury a growth node. For leaves, insert to the petiole (where leaf meets stem) prop all cuttings upright. I use small branches from my large bamboo bush and may lightly tie the cuttings if necessary. This prevents the leaves from touching wet soil and rotting.

Once the cuttings have been secured, place in the area to root. If outdoors, a light daily mist will help. Keep the cuttings moist, never wet and check for rooting in two weeks. During summer/early fall, leaves should pup in 4 to 6 weeks and stem cuttings should root well in about 4 weeks. Of course, depending on your climate this may take a little longer. As the weather cools, keep cuttings warm for fastest rooting. Once wellrooted, gradually expose the cuttings to the amount of light they will receive as a mature plant.

Unrooted cuttings are a great way to share and receive begonias, gesneriads, and other tropicals at a fraction of the cost of plants.

 

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