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Stem cutting  [ Horticulture  ]

Dictionary of botanic terminology - index of names


A portion of a stem taken from a plant and used to propagate a new clone of that plant through rooting.

Stem cuttings are the most commonly used method of vegetative propagation. A stem cutting is plant stem including a tip (e.g. shoot, twig, sucker, ) or a  portion of a stem without  the apex that includes one or more nodes removed from a parent plant and capable of rooting; A stem cutting is  used to grow a whole new plant, which is also known as cloning (because you are creating an exact copy of the parent plant, a clone).

The stem sections should be free of diseases and pests. Cut below a node. For tip cutting remove foliage from the bottom half of the stem leaving only  few  leaves in the top. When a cutting is made, injured xylem and phloem cells plug the tubes so that precious fluids are not lost. Usually a Callus forms at the cut. Cells near the callus area reorganize to form adventitious roots.
The cutting is then placed into rooting medium so that the base of the cutting is below the surface. Some plants will reproduce readily from cuttings while others take a considerable amount of time and care. Rooting condition may vary considerably in different species  but in general the best conditions needed for most kind of cuttings to root comprises high humidity, indirect light and soil temperatures of 20°C to 25° C.
These conditions may be created by keeping cuttings enclosed under glass or in plastic bags in dappled shade.  Rooting can take from a few days up to several months.  Rooting hormones may be used with this method as they helps to stimulate rooting.

There are different typology of stem cuttings:

Herbaceous cuttings:
  Are stems or pieces of stems taken from nonwoody plants, such as perennials and houseplants and rooted in the normal way.  
Softwood cuttings:  
  Are pieces of new growth taken from woody stock plants. These cuttings are taken from first-year branches that have not yet become woody. Flowering shrubs are often propagated by softwood cuttings. Late spring and early summer are the best times for success with this method. Make a diagonal cut. The larger diagonal cut gives more area to develop roots. Keep cuttings in water before moving them into rooting medium. Make cuttings 5-30 cm long with no flowers or buds on them. Larger cuttings produce larger plants sooner. Make cuts slightly below a leaf node , and root in the normal way.  
Hardwood cuttings:  
  Are taken from tissue which has become woody and the plant is dormant. Cuttings can be taken anytime from late autumn after a killing frost until late winter. Select healthy wood that was produced the previous summer. Several cuttings can be made from the same branch of some shrubs. Make cuts at a slant, 10 to 25  cm long. Basal cuts should be just below a node, while the upper cut should be slightly above a bud. Mark the most terminal end of each cutting with a tag. Bury cuttings vertically in moist vermiculite or sand. Cuttings should not freeze, but must remain cool. A callus will form on the lower cut end during storage. Callus formation indicates that cuttings are ready to root. In spring, remove the cuttings from storage. Plant in a hotbed or other protected site with morning sun exposure or filtered light. Leave 1 to 2 inches of cutting above ground. Keep cuttings moist until a root system forms. Transplant the cuttings the following spring while they are still dormant.  
Succulent cutting:  
  Growing a cactus and succulents from a stem cutting is usually very easy! But for successfully results some particular precautions are needed, above all avoid to make the most common mistake consisting in planting the cutting before it has callused, this error is often fatal.  
  How to successfully grow cactus and succulent cuttings:  
  CUT: Chose a healthy stem sections. Make a straight, clean cut with a sharp knife. Use a saw for larger plants with woody skeletons. The application of both a rooting hormone as well as fungicide on the cut surfaces helps prevent infection and accelerate rooting. Cactus cuttings root most easily when taken during their natural growth season (usually in warm weather).

DRY & LET CALLUSING: Place the cutting in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight until the wound is fully callused over. This will take a few days for a small cut surface, or week or month for a large cut surface. Erect stems should be kept erect during this period, or else turned frequently, to prevent formation of roots along the side that is on the bottom, and to prevent possible curvature of the stem. If cuttings stay for a along time out of soil they start spontaneously producing adventitious roots (see photo) when roots are visible the cutting can be successfully planted.

PLANT: Plant the calloused cutting into a container with good drainage holes filled with a well-drained soil mixture just deep enough to hold it upright. The soil mixture should contain enough gravel, coarse sand, perlite, or pumice to ensure good drainage. During cool or humid weather, cactus cuttings should be rooted in an especially well-drained mixture. Rooting is best accomplished with some shade to prevent sunburn of the plant. Cuttings in full sun will require more water and sunburn very easily. For cacti which crawl along the ground or that have long, thin stems and for stapeliads, place the cutting lying down on the surface of the soil mix, directly on top of loose soil. For opuntias, or any other cactus that branches freely, place the pad or stem in the soil or on its side, so that new growth will be clean and upright.

WATER: Water immediately after planting and thereafter every time the planting mix becomes totally dry. Never allow the planting mix to remain totally dry for more than a few days. Over watering is the most common problem with growing cactus. Remember, these plants live in areas which have very little annual rainfall and the main reason for rooting failure is rot especially in cool or humid months when soil does not dry out quickly. In cool weather, it may not be necessary to water the plant after the initial watering until the weather begins to turn warm. Winter is “dormant” season for cactus. Do not water unless plant looks noticeably shrivelled.. Water held by the cactus stems can freeze, killing the entire plant, and will also cause root rot and fungus problems Keeps cacti dry and cool during winter is essential. Do not allow water to collect into a saucer beneath the pot, cactus roots do not like continued exposure to moisture.

CHECK: Cactus will begin to root in anywhere form 2 to 6 weeks. When roots have established, the plant will then start to show new growth. Check for roots every two weeks by gently moving the plant in the soil, using tongs or wearing gloves. If there is strong resistance, the cutting is rooted. New growth is evidence that rooting has occurred, but sudden swelling (turgor) of the stem is better proof that water-absorbing roots are present. As long as the cutting still contains moisture, and is not diseased, it still has the potential to eventually make roots, even if it is somewhat shriveled.

Following these instructions, cactus should do well and last many years.









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