The third and final part in our saving plant genetics feature sees us explore the possibility of taking cuttings from an already flowering subject.
We originally set ourselves a hypothetical scenario whereby a sudden and devastating pest infestation manages to strike down a thriving plant that has genetics worth attempting to save.
Previous articles have looked at overwintering the plant, and harvesting and stratifying some seeds. Taking cuttings should be done in conjunction with overwintering the plant, whilst it is actually being cut back.
Considering our bid to try and save the plant genetics was triggered by a pest infestation, any cuttings that are taken obviously need checking closely for bugs. The last thing you’d want to facilitate is the spreading of pests to other parts of the grow room, such as a propagation area.
Taking cuttings from flowering plants proves notoriously difficult, since they will already be focusing energy and effort on preserving genetics through fruit creation. But given that we are pulling out all the stops to try and save the genetics, attempting it is recommended, as in the case of failure, the back up process of overwintering may still work.
If you have a propagation area set up, you’ll probably already own everything required for this procedure – a scalpel, Clonex, Root Riot Starter Cubes, Vita Link Plant Start, a propagator, a measuring cup, a propagation light and a sprayer. I decided to use a standard unheated Hi-Top Propagator because I wanted to show that taking cuttings during flowering can be done using the most basic of equipment. However to increase your chances I would still recommend a heated version. The optimum conditions for rooting are more easily achieved, and with it being less likely than usual that the cuttings will take, the more help the plant receives the better.
The method for taking cuttings from flowering plants is essentially the same you would follow when taking cuttings from a mother plant in the vegetative stage. Where possible here though, you are aiming to take cuttings that do not have pre-existing flowers. The rate of success will be higher when the cutting looks as much as possible like it has come from a vegetating plant.
To take the cuttings, pour some Clonex into a small Measuring Cup and open the pack of Fleximix Root Riot Cubes ready for use. Find a healthy growing tip on your plant, which should have at least one set of developed leaves. The leaves below this set need removing and the cutting taken at the resultant nodal intersection.
Trying to identify healthy looking tips can be difficult if insects have attacked your plant, so you must make the most of what is available. Remembering the limited chances of success, it makes sense to take lots of cuttings – even ones that would not normally come into consideration.
With the tip selected, the set of leaves removed and a slight diagonal cut directed through the nodal intersection, the cutting is then placed into the cup of Clonex and left for a couple of minutes.
While the cutting sits in the Clonex, check the moistness of the Fleximix Root Riot Cubes. They should be moist out of the pack, and for successful cuttings, need to remain this way.
Once the cutting has been exposed to the Clonex for a couple of minutes, gently insert the delicate little thing into the pre made hole in the cube and return to the tray.
Then simply repeat the process as many times as deemed necessary. The main branch would eventually be removed from this plant for overwintering purposes, so I tried to use what I could before consigning it to the rubbish bin.
Lightly mist the cuttings with water and place the lid on the propagator. Close the vents and place the young plants and their home in the propagation area. Here a 2-tube T5 unit provides the light.
After a few hours, you should notice a light mist on the inside of the propagator lid. At this point we recommend opening up the vents slightly to try and maintain these conditions.
Now it is a case of keeping fingers crossed. Regularly check the propagator to ensure that optimum conditions are maintained.
For a more detailed explanation on taking cuttings, please see our previous article (insert link).
1 – Optimum conditions.
Aim for a temperature of between 21 and 26 degrees.
Aim for a humidity level of between 73 and 83%
2 – Every couple of days remove the lid and wide away any moisture, mist with water and return the lid.
3 – Using a high top propagator gives the cutting space and helps maintain a stable temperature.
4 – Keep a close eye on the cuttings, especially those that wilt. Any sign of mould or mildew, remove the cutting straight away to prevent it spreading.
5 – After 10 – 20 days the roots should be starting to emerge from the cubes.