Experiment 1: Propagation by cuttings

In order to understand propagation by cuttings, we follow the evolution, trials, and tribulations of 24 cuttings, taken from Metrosideros Polymorpha Sirius (stock plant 001), over the course of a few years. This is a live real-time experiment so updates will appear irregularly and disasters may occur. Eventually these plants will want to become shrubs or trees, but, with limited space, will be kept to manageable sizes. The trunk diameter at 1” will be measured every three months in order to track growth.

To add a sense of jeopardy three different growing media will be used. Assuming that enough of them strike, they will be split across different environments which could include two or more of the following: house, greenhouse, outside in summer (in pots).

This will be as exciting as watching paint dry, but will eventually be informative as to whether Ōhiʻa have a future as houseplants. In a separate experiment (#2) the question of how to coerce Ōhiʻa to flower will be explored.

25th January 2020: The experiment begins

Ingredients: Westland Gro-Sure seed and cutting compost, perlite, lava rock. All sterilised in oven reaching around 70degC at the centre. The following mixes were added to the root trainers:

  • Pure compost (label 1)
  • 6:1 compost:perlite mix (label 2)
  • 6:1 compost:lava mix (label 3)

The filled root-trainer was left to soak overnight and then drained.

24 cuttings were taken from Sirius, and prepared by taking off the bottom 2 sets of leaves, and halving upper two sets. The bottom half was dipped in water and sprinkled with hormone rooting powder, before being put in the mixes in the root trainers. 

8 cuttings per mix, in individual root trainer ‘plugs’. The tray was then sprayed with tap water and put in an enclosed unheated propagator, which was placed 60cm under a 10W Ikea grow light in an anglepoise lamp. The lamp is on a timer, providing 12 hours per day. Natural light provides a small contribution.

Initially sprayed 4 time during day to make sure soil damp, and to avoid moisture loss at this tender stage. Reduced to morning and evening after two days. Max and min temperatures are being monitored, but will typically stay between 18 and 21degC during the winter months.

Now it’s a waiting game!

15th February 2020 – first leaf growth!

After three weeks we have first evidence of leaf growth on cutting 2.1 (the decimal places signify the order in which the cuttings in each batch exhibit either leaf and/or root growth). It is likely that the leaf bud was pre-existing and small, and that it has enough energy and moisture to go for it! No roots are poking out the bottom of the root-trainers.

Cutting 2.1 : it’s alive!