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