Monday, September 1, 2014

winchester cathedral, update

Today, September 1, 2014

The next critical stage has come for my 'Winchester Cathedral' cuttings, the planting out stage. This is a critical stage, because it is another sudden and dramatic change in environment for the plants. The first critical stage, is of course getting the cuttings to root. I had put the one in the bottom of the photo below in a plastic bag to retain moisture, and was rewarded with yellow leaves. It still rooted, however.

May 13, 2014
The next critical stage is when they go from the rooting medium to a more dense medium, where I have lost quite a few cuttings. You wouldn't think that this was that critical, since there are a lot of roots already formed when moved to a potting mix, but there you have it. You'd think this medium (below) was pretty good (Foxfarm), but I lost one cutting before repotting the other two into something better (Pro-Mix).

June 14, 2014, 2-1/4" pots (the one that had the yellow leaves is on the right)

The next critical step is moving them from greenhouse pampering, to outdoor (albeit protected) life with wind, bugs, direct sunlight. It is much, much easier for them to dry out since they are in a porous medium, with 5% humidity and intense high altitude sunlight here. There is a very fine line between "slightly wilted while getting used to the new climate" to "dead." This is particularly difficult with plants that need full sun and have grey leaves, since a shaded position results in etiolated growth, rot and death. This can occur while the plants are very tiny, so that the tendency is to give them more sun, risking death due to dehydration, which is also more likely since the plants are so tiny and the root systems are only just developing. I try to watch them carefully and move them from sunlight to shade, but I can't do that when I'm at work. It is devastating to come home from work to dead plants after 2 months (or more) of careful patience.

July 19, 2014, 4" pots

Four months after the cuttings were struck, and the 'Winchester Cathedral' cuttings have filled up their 1 gallon pots. It is getting late in the season, so they must go into the ground. They are going from a pampered, well drained, competition free, fluffy relatively sterile medium, with attention to their every whim of water and light, even root space, to the harsh realities of the ground, with the huge variety of potential pathogens, not to mention bugs, even more intense sunlight, wind, erratic moisture and possibly root competition. I had planted out my hard won 'Bolero' cuttings too soon, and one suddenly wilted and didn't perk up with irrigation. Uh-oh. I checked the roots the next day, and they had either rotted or were eaten. I should have waited until the plants were bigger before planting them out, so that the root  I suspect that the fragile new roots had dried out where they joined the stem, and died. Months of work down the drain. I should have waited until the root junction had become woody before planting out.

flowering while still in the pot

So I don't begrudge the plant companies who charge what seems like an astronomical $25 per rose bush when I could be making cuttings myself for a couple dollars of potting mix, rooting hormone, perlite and water. For that money, I am getting a year's advance in growth, and much less worry. My pocketbook, on the other hand, argues with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment