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Wintersweet propagation: cutting and seedlings 腊梅繁殖实践手记

forever_a_newbie_VA8
7 months ago
last modified: 14 days ago

Hi I am wondering anyone ever having luck propagating wintersweet via cuttings. I have a huge wintersweet shrub but is is a plain species, though very fragrant. My friend has a pure yellow type and I really want to grow one from her cuttings.

This is my species plant, purple heart

My friend’s pure yellow

I tried hardwood cutting winter of 2021 but did not have luck. Now I am considering softwood cutting and she is coming this weekend and bringing me the cuttings. I am windering if any of you folks have some experience or suggestion to share?

Following are photoes of the cutting I tried inpure perlite at winter of 2021-2022. They were taken at the most promising time. However since then they went downhill and eventually all failed

The green tips had not really opened before they shriveled

Unfortunately none of the cuttings had rooted

Thank you very much and happy gardening!

Comments (42)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    7 months ago

    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=dirr+propagation+of+woody+perennials&ia=web


    wonder if the local library might have it for quick reference this weekend????

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    7 months ago

    Ken, thanks very much for this idea. I will look it up tomorrow!

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  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    Thought I would use this to log my wintersweet propagation effort. On June 12th 2022 I took the cuttings, prepared as in normal protocal, except adding one addional step: wrapped the branch that were above soil with single layer of parafilm. potted them in half cococoir and half perlite. put a plastic bag on top and put them in the shaded part of deck.

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    On the same day June 12th I prepared the seeds also brought by my friends.

    I took the seeds out of the seed pods, soaked in warm water for 1 day. Next day I carefully tore away the coat, and lay them on wet paper towel..

    On June 14th they started to show new growth

    I potted those and in a few days a couple some have grown a little, in half coco coir and half potting soil. following is June 21th.

    Today June 26th a lot of them have had 1 set of leaves.



  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    A few seedlings have grown true leaves on July 24th


  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    July 29th: it looks like softwood rooting has failed. All but one cutting are rotted, and even the remaining one does not look promising

    On the other hand, seedlings are doing ok. it took a long time (a month) for the true leaves to show up, but once there, they are taking off quickly


  • michaelspokane
    5 months ago

    Now that you have seedlings, grow them on for a couple of years and use them as understock to graft cuttings from the yellow one on. Not only will this be more reliable, but you won't have to wait the 7 to 10 years for your seedlings to reach flowering age!

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked michaelspokane
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks Michael for the grafting suggestion. I actually have a species wintersweet plant (purple heart) which is big and healthy (see first picture). I can ask my friend to send me some twigs early next spring and try out. Her yellow variety was also a seedling given by her friend and she said it might have taken 5 years to bloom.

    The other option is to do an airlayering on her plant next spring. I am experimenting air-layer on my own plant right now but I started a bit late (mid July). If it looks promising I will bug her again.

    Happy gardening!

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    August 8th: I noticed leaves on the air-layed branch that I experimented on my species plant (purple heart) had turned brown and crispy. I cut the branch. It has been 3 weeks since I started (on July 17th). No root but there is callus showing.


    The coir in the air-layer pod is still moist (I injected some water week ago when it was reaaly hot).

    considering I did not start the experiment at the optimal time I feel if I get to try on my friend’s tree next spring, I might have a chance of success?

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago

    I haven't been able to find any reference to air layering Chimonanthus praecox. There is information out there about ground layering and rooting which appear to be the methods of choice for this plant.

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks Bill. Yeah wintersweet is a rare plant still in the states and not much information is available. Long time ago a fellow in Fragrant Forum (long river I think is his name) had rooted some in the summer using bottom heating and shared with us. Unfortunately mine died after a couple months.

    I doubt I should bother air-layer or ground layer considering this is not my plant and we are hours away. My friend is a even newer newbie than I am :)

    Now thinking back I made a mistake in hardwood cutting, putting the pots indoor at 70 degree. I should have left them outside.

    But a 100% failure at softwood cutting (20 of them) is too discouraging.

    I think I will try one more time with grafting next spring. Worst case I still have the seedlings and the purple hearts. Maybe 7 years is not too long after all.


    Happy gardening!

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago

    From the Reference manual of woody plant propagation: Dirr & Heuser.

    Chimonanthus praecox. Fragrant wintersweet.


    Cuttings:

    Considered difficult. Senior author collected cuttings in late July (Georgia), 3000 ppm IBA-solution, peat:perlite, mist, wood was firm and growth had stopped, 70% rooting resulted.


    Cuttings were collected from a mature 15' high shrub. Late August, 3000 ppm IBA-talc plus thiram, sand:perlite, rooted 66%.

    Best to collect cuttings from young plants (juvenile).

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thank you so much Bill for this very useful information. So this is the book that Ken suggested that I could not find in our library. It looks like semi hardwood cuttings where growth stopped already.

    I can see how or where I was failing. The solution, misting condition, etc. Amazing they got 70% success rate but they must be doing in a plant science lab!

    It comforts me that wintersweet rooting is listed as difficult :)

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I couldn't find the book at the library either.

    I kept searching around and iirc: paid ~$14 used through amazon.

    Woody plant propagation.

    I didn't have all the resources needed to do things 'by the book' but the time of year to take cuttings is useful along with the amount of IBA to use (I bought 'Dip & Grow' then mixed according to instructions). Timing is the most critical imo.

    Media type isn't cut in stone either.

    When I rooted Taxus canadensis, I used 70% perlite 30% peat. It just has to support the cuttings and retain moisture basically.

    Just place the cup(s) or pot(s) with several to many cuttings stuck in the media, inside a plastic food bag(s) (this holds humidity high), bag tie or seal the tops and set in the shade, somewhere out of the way, where temperatures don't get too hot or too cold (high 60's to low 70's should be good).

    Should be making roots in 6 weeks or so.

    It all seems so overwhelming the first time but it's really very simple. Just keep everything clean.

    (I used a peroxide mix to disinfect everything before sticking, to help prevent mold).

    You might only get one to a few to root out of a pot of 20 so a couple of 6" shallow pots with 20 cuttings ea. will give a chance of at least a few that root. That won't be high enough percentage for a commercial grower but a few for personal use is good enough. ;-)

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    And just to add:

    I wouldn't wrap the 'cuttings' with parafilm. In fact you may want to open the bag(s) they're in every week or so to ventilate and give them some fresh air. Plants need oxygen to stay healthy.

    :-)

    eta: perhaps smaller cuttings might help. New growth on branch ends that are just hardening off (8-10"), I think is what they are saying in the book.

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks again Bill. I just unwrapped the parafilm of the one remaining cutting. The top is already mushy. Fortunately the rest of stem is still green. This is one thick cutting. My friend had a very hard time finding ”pencil sized” branches on her still moderate size tree. Now I feel guilty.

    Today 8/10 the last seedling also grows a set of true leaves. Now I have total of 6 healthy seedlings to look forward to.

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago

    That's fine!

    You might get the itch to try rooting again sometime but now is the recommended time of year, so you still have time to think about it. Sounds like semi-hardwood cuttings are the best.

    And don't worry about the failures, we all have them. It took me at least 3 tries before the Hemlocks struck. Once they did, the joy was worth all the disappointments. :)

    Glad to hear the seedlings are forging ahead.

    Keep us posted.

    Bill


  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Bill I just realized I missed your post on the details of cutting procedure. You even purchased the book! I did not do so thinking it would be too late :)

    Those are very invaluable information. It does sound overwhelming for me this moment but when I set to do it, it wii be of tremendous help. Maybe one day someone visits here and will be inspired. Thank you so much!

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Bill, such a detailed and complete protocol for rooting! It is Extremely helpful in so many ways. The plastic tote with rocks at the bottom is a great and simple solution. I need to buy a big one, but for now since I only have one cutting left, I used a tall vase in place :) One advantage of putting the pots in a container I can see is preventing the branch to touch the plastic bag thus reducing chance of rotting?

    It must feel very good getting a rooted plant after 7 months. Diligence and patience finally paid!

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Thanks!

    The only thing that has me worried is the size of your cuttings.

    Semi hardwood or Softwood cuttings, taken in the summer, are the new shoots of growth from this season. Not the mature woody growth at its base.

    When taken in July, before they begin to harden off, they are called Softwood cuttings, then later in the summer (end of July or August) when they quit growing and begin to harden off, then they are called Semi-Hardwood cuttings.

    I believe both instances described in Dirr's book were semi-hardwood cuttings.

    eta: 4" to 6" long.

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    So I might have used the wrong type of cuttings. My friend actually brought 6 or so long branches. I cut each to 3 or 4 pieces. Some of them ( the ones close to the tip) should be qualified as softwood? This last one is close to the base, so definitely not a softwood cutting then. Chance is now even dwindling

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    haha! That's how we learn! By doing. :-)

    Not a problem, this is the time of year to collect cuttings for Semi-Hardwood rooting.

    But yes, it's the new part of this year's growth that will root. Not the hard woody stem like willow and dogwood will.

    You can get quite a few in a pot, similar to what I did with the Taxus. You might just have to take a road trip to your friends and collect them.

    Cut them cleanly just below a bud and place them inside of a plastic bag with a wet paper towel, until you get home. A small cooler would be nice to keep them fresh.

    Morning is best as the shoots are generally plump and moist (turgid).

    Then you're all set. Stick them, cover them and wait. :-)

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks, Bill! so basically, the good semi-hard cuttings will be those thin and somehow green stems? Most of the cuttings I tried last months were like that though I have made some error in the procedure.. There are always so much regret when thinking back.. Unfortunately I can’t make a trip rest of summer, with my and her schedules. We are 2 hours apart. Might be able to visit her during the winter break. I can collect hardwood cuttings that time.

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    No problem, I was having fun helping. :-)

    I don't think hardwood cuttings will work, at least I can't find any references to that method.

    The other method, which may have a higher success rate than rooting, would be Layering.

    Disclaimer: There may be patents on certain plants, so you will want to check if they're patented or not before propagating them. \n

    If not, I'd instruct my friend on how to layer a couple of branches. That way, by next summer, you could probably disconnect them from the parent plant and by the next Fall , pot them up and take them home.

    I've never layered anything, so you'll have to research that one by yourself.

    the good part is that the new plant will be an exact clone, with the same genetics as the parent, same as rooting.

    Sorry it didn't work out for you with the cuttings, and you could try that method again next year.

    :^) Have fun!

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Bill, thanks again!

    I actually have some experience in air-layering. did that long time ago on a Japanese maple, failed because the branch healed without rooting. This year I tried again with a couple roses from Costco and it is very successful. Perhaps the costco roses are really easy types. They rooted as early as 2 weeks which is amazing. On the other hand all my rose cuttings failed. I was just experimenting and kept checking which probably accounted for failure. But on the whole I have more confidence in air-layeringbrhan cutting.

    I don’t think the winter sweet plant my friend has is of patent concern. Hers is a seedling from a friend. Her friend’s might also come from a seedling. The yellow type likely comes from China (from seeds) and there have not been many new varieties. Even the nursery I visited last fall in NC had wintersweet plants from seedlings too and they were not sure what type it was so I did not buy. This spring I called them and they told me it bloomed pure yellow but were all sold out. Maybe I should make a trip there during the blooming time and save all the trouble (and fun too :)

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    8/31: wintersweet seedlings are doing great! The biggest one has reached almost 7 inches.

    I repotted two to bigger pots. The other 4 are also doing fine.

    As to the only cutting remaining, hard to tell if it will make it. so far the stem hasn’t dried out and no rotting is seen at bottom part


  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    10/24: the last cutting is rotted. So my rooting effort is a complete failure.

    The 6 seedlings are doing fine. I planted one seedling in the ground on 10/20.

    The rest 5 seedlings are potted to bigger pots and put by the front porch facing south

    Later I will cover them with leaves and straws.

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    3 months ago

    How long before a seedling flowers? Congrats by the way

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks Meyermike. My species Wintersweet was bought as a small seedling. It took 5 or 6 years to bloom after I planted it.

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I wrap the seedling planted in ground with a pot before Thanksgiving for some protection.

    The remaining potted plants (gave a few to friends) are put inside a big pot under a maple tree

    On 11/30 I received new cuttings from my friend. According to online resource, I wrapped them with damp paper towel, put in a dark bag and left them in garage (12-17 degree). I am supposed to wait for 3 weeks for the bottom to form callus.

    I periodically checked them and it has been 2 weeks (Dec 13th) but no sign of callus.


  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    last month

    Dec 18th 2022: 20 days since my friend took the cuttings. They still did not show much callus

    But I decided to pot them as planned. I prepared 3 mediums: [pure perlite], [half perlite+half sand], [perlite+sand+potting soil]

    I dipped the cuttings in rootone briefly, and planted them in the three pots. I will leave the pot of [half sand + half perlite] by the west facing window in the house

    The other two pots I will leave at the porch. I might bring them inside if it gets too cold

    Now I will wait and pray for them to show up in spring 🌱🌼

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    Update of 1/5/2023

    We had a super cold 20 or so degree weather for a few days last week. Seedlings have dropped all leaves. This is the one planted in ground.

    Below are 3 seedlings in pots

    I hope they are all still alive. Currently weather has come back to above 40.

    Above are cuttings in [half perlite+half sand] and indoor. I am excited to see new growth but I am not counting on it. I tried winter hardwood cutting a year ago and there was also some (though much less) growth however they dried up later without developing root.

    Above are cuttings in [pure perlite]. I put the pot originally outside but moved it indoor when it got down to 20 degree. There was a tiny new growth on one cutting.

    Above is the pot with cuttings in [sand+perlite+soil] left at the deck. No new growth yet but the cuttings are still alive. Notice the species winter sweet plant in full bloom. The fragrance is intoxicating and amazing, and there must be over a hundred bees buzzing around.

    Happy New Year and Happy Gardening♣️🌹

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    23 days ago

    Thanks for the update!

    bill

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    23 days ago

    Thanks, Bill

    These are the blooms from my plain species wintersweet plant. They are not as bright and pretty as the pure yellow variery, but the fragrance is amazing!

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    23 days ago

    1/5/2023: According to Chinese online site, the cuttings with new growth could be sprayed with 0.3% KH2PO4 (Potassium dihydrogen phosphate) every 10 days to facilitate rooting. I got a few bags from Amazon so I just sprayed the cuttings today (1/5/2023) as mentioned.

    I also took a couple cuttings from the [sand+perlite+soil] pot and planted them directly in ground, just for experiment. They have not had any new growth yet.

  • BillMN-z-2-3-4
    21 days ago

    Keep us posted.

    :-)

    forever_a_newbie_VA8 thanked BillMN-z-2-3-4
  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    21 days ago

    Bill, thanks! I’ll keep posted, even just for myself to come back and check notes, dates and progress 😊

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    18 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    January 10th, 2023

    Below are cuttings in [half sand+half perlite] and they have been in indoor by the window all time. There has been more growth since Jan 5th.

    Below are cuttings in [pure perlite]. The pot was outside on the deck for 5 days then I moved it back on Dec 23. It stays indoor now. There is one new growth

    The pot outside [sand+perlite+soil] has not shown any growth.

    The online source says that it is crucial to maintain the moisture and keep the new growth green and alive. I do not have any misting equipment and I dare not spraying too often, worrying the water will get in the medium and cause rotting. I cover the pots with plastic bags and spray only occasionally.

    It will take 4 months for the second round of new leaves to appear and only then one can be confident about cuttings getting rooted. It is a long way to go 🌱

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    16 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    January 12th, I moved the pot of [sand+perlite+soil] into the house, and put it by the west window. There has been no new growth on these cuttings

    Trying to find a way to increase the moisture while avoiding soaking the medium 😁 This way I can spray the new growth without water getting in the medium.

  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    January 15th, 2023

    2 of the cuttings in [sand+perlite+soil] have put green growth since I moved them indoor on 12/23/2023


  • forever_a_newbie_VA8
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Jan 20, 2023

    The green leaves on one cutting in the [half sand+half perlite] withered, making me a bit worried. Others are all right and hopefully most of them will continue growing well

    The 2 cuttings in the [pure perlite] pot are doing good and have caught up since I brought them indoor

    The cuttings in [soil+sand+perlite] pot start to sprout green tips. They are still tiny this moment

    2 days before lunar new year 🧨🌱