Thursday, 3 November 2016

It's Alive!

At the very first meeting after I joined my bonsai club, one of the topics discussed was growing trees from cuttings. The speaker showed us how to turn an empty soft drink bottle into a mini greenhouse, allowing the cutting to live in a self-watering, humid environment until it had formed roots.

As I had already begun experimenting with cuttings, I was very excited by his talk and couldn't wait to try this method out for myself. This photo shows one of my early attempts.

Cutting in mini greenhouse

This little Abelia cutting came from a tree in my garden. It rooted satisfactorily and is still living happily in my bonsai area.

For a while I was very happy with the results I got using his method, but then I grew more ambitious and wanted to grow cuttings that were too big to fit in soda bottles, so I've had to adapt my methods over the years. Today I've got so many trees that I don't pamper my cuttings as I once did, but usually put them in my greenhouse where they get their humidity from the surrounding trees. However one habit that has persisted is that wherever possible I try to start my cuttings in transparent 'pots' so that I can see when roots start to form.

That's what I did with the piece I chopped off the tree featured in my post Clip and Grow Ficus - the Second Chop.

To be honest I never expected that one to survive though. It was chopped at a meeting of my bonsai club and left standing in an unsuitable area for a couple of hours afterwards, so it was already looking quite droopy by the time I got it home.

Droopy cutting - August 2016

What you see in this photo is nothing compared to its sorry appearance a few days later as all the leaves started to shrivel up and die. All I could do was leave it on its shelf in my greenhouse and hope for the best.

Happily new leaves soon started to appear, so I was optimistic that it would root after all. And finally a couple of weeks ago I started to see the roots I was looking for.

Healthy cutting - November 2016

Today the roots are looking really good.


I've got so many of these ficuses that I decided to try an experiment with this one. Instead of letting it grow unrestricted, I shortened the top branches to try to promote growth lower down.

November 2016 - after a slight trim

I've got memories of trying this on a similar cutting a few years ago, and that one fattened up much faster than most of my other cuttings have done, so I'm hoping I'll be able to replicate the result.

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