Taking cuttings revisited

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New Updates Increasing yield by extending the vegetative cycle Increasing yield by extending the vegetative cycle One of the main benefits of indoor gardening is the complete level of control you are afforded over the growing environment and the associated opportunity to closely manage and finely tailor every aspect of plant development. The vegetative stage…. More »

Recently we took a look at the several different ways that you can save plant genetics and then decided to put them to the test.

It all came about following a demonstration on tackling aphid infestations during the fruiting stage, whereby the question was asked; “if things somehow escalated and became worse, what options are available to try and save plant genetics?”

Having identified and explained the three main methods of saving plant genetics – overwintering, stratification of seeds and taking late cuttings – let us check up on the trials and examine our results.

The first method attempted was to overwinter the plant. This involves cutting everything right back to leave nothing but the main stem. Overwintering causes plants an incredible amount of stress, and without the ability to photosynthesise, can often lead to them hanging on for dear life! Even when you are successful, overwintered plants will still appear to be dying – so it’s tough to call! You must keep them in a fairly warm stable temperature, near a window to allow for some light. Fortunately this exercise took place over the actual winter months, meaning the light cycle was naturally the right one. Throughout summer months you would ideally house them in a tent and use a grow light to produce between eight and ten hours of light a day.

Signs of life started to show after several weeks, with tiny green shoots slowly emerging from the stem. At this point you put the plant into a tent and gradually increase the hours of light it receives until back up to the regular 18-hour vegetative light cycle.

Taking cuttings revisited As you can see, the growth has continued, suggesting that the overwintering process proved successful, and thus saved the genetics. Because the plant is mature, there are some flower buds starting to form. You do not want to start the flowering cycle yet, so these need to be pinched off to encourage the plant to continue the vegetative process and increase foliage. When more foliage is present, you could take cuttings from it to further improve the long-term chances of saving genetics.

The second method involved harvesting the seeds. Due to the fact that we were treating each exercise as a last chance scenario for saving the genetics we took the extra step of actually stratifying the seeds too. Placing the harvested seeds onto some kitchen towel that had been soaked in an Oxy Plus solution to prevent mould, you seal them in a plastic bag and move to the fridge for one to three months (depending on the species) to replicate winter conditions.

At the 8 week mark it was time to get them started. The process does not differ to starting seeds normally, but we will run through the steps again briefly.

Taking cuttings revisited

Equipment required for this task includes a Propagator, Jiffy Pellets, Rhizotonic, a litre of water, and a saucer to soak the jiffy pellets in.

Taking cuttings revisited

Add 4ml of Rhizotonic to the water to help develop a good root structure and then pour the mixture into the saucer holding the jiffy pellets. A few minutes later the jiffy pellets will absorb a sufficient amount of water and expand.

Next you place a single seed into each jiffy pellet, before gently pushing them into the pellet and disturbing the top so that they are covered. The jiffy pellets then need to be put into the propagator, with the lid placed on top and the vents closed. Position the propagator in your propagation area/tent and soon the seedlings will start sprouting. We expected a long agonising wait here as the Dorset Naga variety are notorious for taking a few weeks to get going. Only three weeks on though and there had been some germination success, with about a third of the seeds sprouting and developing into seedlings. Hopefully some more will sprout over the next couple of weeks, nevertheless, as it stands this can be counted as a success in so far as saving the genetics of the plant is concerned.

Taking cuttings revisited

The third and final method of saving plant genetics is to take late cuttings. We had sprayed the infected plant with Pyrethrum, which turned out to be very effective in clearing the problem, allowing for this to become an option worth at least trying. Yet since the plant was already in the flowering stage, with chillies present, the odds of getting cuttings to take always remained low. Due to damage inflicted by the aphids, all cuttings unfortunately failed to root – hardly surprising given the damage caused by the aphids. The chances may have been slightly higher using an Aeroponic Propagator.

Taking cuttings revisited, Overall the exercise has been a success, in as much that the over wintered plant seems to have made it, and some of the seeds sprouted!

Taking cuttings revisited

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