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Clones at Home

This week a great two-part question crossed my desk and it reminded me it’s been awhile since I asked you to send me more. Consider them gifts of the season, if you will, to inspire future blogs – these are gifts we can both enjoy. Thanks in advance!

Here’s that question:

I want to know which one of your products is best for propagation of Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’. And what is the meaning of, for example, Hormex #3? Is that the dose of IBA?

Let’s begin with the last two questions. Yes, the numbers after different Hormex products refer in a shorthand sort of way to the strength of the product. This range of IBA concentrations really sets Hormex apart and makes your job as a propagator more successful. The numbers range from Hormex #1 to the most concentrated, #30, indicating their relative strengths. #30 is reserved for plants such as Juniperus sabrina ‘Tamariscifolia’, aka Tam or Tamarix juniper, that are notoriously reluctant to root. In the case of Goldcrest, a cultivar of the famed Monterey cypress, I suggest Hormex #3 to start. But since I have not rooted this one myself, I reserve the right to also suggest #8 if #3 does not yield healthy clones.

I fell in love with Monterey cypress trees many years ago because their rugged trunks so vividly reflect the landscape that carved them. The parent of the Goldcrest clone occurs naturally in very limited areas on Monterey Bay. That is on California’s central coast, for the geographically challenged among us. The relentless winds and salt spray leave their mark on the trees, creating stunning hags that cast deep shadows on the sand. Fortunately, the tree and its children (cultivars selected from natural stands of the tree) thrive outside this limited area. Like most plants, Monterey cypress originated where conditions favor its growth and similar sites worldwide host it happily. Where it is too cold, dry, or alkaline for the species and its cultivars to survive, the trees are grown as container plants and bonsai. The handsome but naturally irregular shape of this coastal cypress has been tamed into a striking upright conical form with colorful foliage in Goldcrest. It is popular and deservedly so.

Update: The night blooming jasmine rooted well and need to be potted up. This and other Cestrums (and others like yellow shrimp plant) root best from wood taken from the middle of a healthy, growing stem. When you encounter a tip cutting that will not root before it keels over, go further down the stem and try again. I was pleased to include Cestrum nocturnum, night blooming jasmine, in Gardener’s Guide to Tropical Plants.

Whew! I am happy to report that a recent propagation project has fared much better than I had feared. A friend showed up with a motley collection of desert plants gleaned from friends’ gardens in Arizona. He lived there for years and truly loves these plants, but had limited space on the return trip to the Southeast. In the box he delivered to me were leaves, cuttings, tiny plants, and a great deal of hope. Rooting and in some cases re-rooting these desert plants (desert rose, yucca and 2 other lilies, sedum leaves, and a couple of cactus) went like this: I set up a sand bed, dipped the ends or bottoms of each one in Hormex Liquid Concentrate – briefly for the callused leaves and cactus babies, longer for the lilies as they were already trying to push out a root. Nestled in their bed, under a full spectrum light, they did not die and some began to green up after about 6 weeks.

Wish me well! Next week I will do something I recommend that no one do. Two huge examples of the small leafed, dwarf schefflera are failing on me, wilting at their tips while still adequately damp at soil level. They are overgrown and spend the summer in the shade outdoors, but do quite well indoors, too, until now. I have seen too many tropical foliage plants lost to untimely repotting and winter is the worst choice if one has no heated greenhouse or humid sunroom for them. As I have done for much smaller plants, I will unpot these and soak their roots in Hormex Liquid Concentrate for 15 minutes before repotting in fresh soil and slightly larger pots. I am confident they will do well, but it is a leap of faith to repot something so large in less than ideal circumstances. This daily wilt has got to go! Stick with me as I leap off this cliff!

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