Don’t Cook Your Cuttings!

by David Murray

After more than twenty years of growing fuchsias I ought by now to know how to look after my fuchsia cuttings, but today is confession time.

The other day I bought several plants that had been allowed to grow too straggly in the nursery. Choosing the straggly ones was quite deliberate as I had no intention of planting or potting them as they were but had an evil plan to chop them up into little pieces – no, not really evil, but to get more plants by making a large number of cuttings. This I did, getting both small tip-cuttings and longer ones from the slightly more woody stems.

Amazon ImageSo what went wrong? At first all was well. I inserted the cuttings around the edges of three-inch square pots filled with a mix of fine compost and vermiculite, just nicely damp but not wet, and arranged the pots in a propagator tray covered by a transparent lid. Everything’s fine at this stage.

I’d been working outside where I have an aluminium-frame tray stand so temporarily the tray went there. It was out of the sun but just to play safe I covered it with some old greenhouse sun shade screening mesh, and went for lunch.

Well lunch lasted a little longer than expected and two hours later I returned – my dozens of beautiful baby cuttings had been cooked! The sun, as it has a daily habit of doing, had come around to shine on the tray stand. The breeze had strengthened, and blown the screening mesh away, leaving the tray with its transparent cover to serve as an oven.

Lessons?

  • Always keep fresh cuttings in the shade.
  • Preferably don’t put your trays where you have to use screening mesh but if it’s unavoidable make certain that the screening material is fastened down so that a breeze won’t move it.

So we start again.

Books on Cuttings and Propagation Techniques

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