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Home > Begonian > Volume 69 (March/April 2002)

Propagating Begonias Without Using Soil Mixture
by Bernie Wiener

There have been a number of different types of soil mixtures used in propagating begonia cuttings. I have been using Oasis Growing Media for years with great success.

Oasis Growing Media are rigid, open-celled, water-absorbing foams specifically designed for optimal callus and root formation. The performance of these media is due to the unique cell structure which closely resembles the cellular structure of the plant itself. These media offer the propagator the following advantages: optimal balance of air and water; stabilized ph; elimination of soil/media mixing; improved uniformity of root formation due to media consistency; rapid transplant and no shock to the cutting.

Oasis Rootcubes medium comes in standard 10 inch x 20 inch sheets with individual "cubes" in 1 inch, 1 1/4 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and separate "strip" configuration. The rootcubes are punched with tapered holes so you guide the cutting insertion without a problem.

Propagation of Cuttings

(1) Thoroughly wet the medium before sticking cuttings. Randomly cut into several cubes to check for dry spots inside the medium. If any are found, rewet the medium.

(2) Placing the cutting in the tapered holes, see that the cutting is stuck at least 1/3 of the cube depth and no more than 3/4. After the cutting has been inserted, do not lift or pull up the cutting as this will break the contact between the cutting base and the Rootcubes Growing Media.

(3) DO NOT allow the Rootcubes Growing Media to dry out. The propagation time required will vary from 18 to 28 days depending on the cultivar and propagation environment. To aid root development use bottom heat of 70 to 80.

(4) Following transplanting irrigate the pots twice -- the first irrigation with water, the second with fertilizer concentration of 20-20-20 or 20-19-18. The double irrigation ensures that the medium is thoroughly wet and there is good contact between the cubes and the potting medium. On the second and third day after potting if the moisture stress is high, irrigate the plants directing the moisture to the base of the cutting.

NOTE: Propagating rhizomatous leaves can occur by rolling up the leaf and inserting it into the tapered hole or placing the leaf into the grooves of the strips of the cubes. For more information contact: Smithers-Oasis Grower Products, P.O. Box 118, Kent Ohio 44240, phone 800-321-8286 (In Ohio or outside U.S., 216-673-5831).

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