Re: procedure for cuttings

My procedure is very like Kathy's. It sounds like I am using much less
leaf area per cutting (my cuttings may be 3-4 inches long at most) and
that I am less careful about them (I don't bother to trim anything before
potting them up). Probably I would do better than 67% if I were as careful
as she is.

I also get up to perhaps 6 cuttings from a leaf, since I want to leave
some surface area for the original plant to use. On a large plant, I'm
sure I could get many more. I'm a firm believer in benign neglect (or,
less charitably, I'm just lazy and want to minimize my time invested) so I
have a very hands-off approach. I dip the lower end of the cutting in a
standard garden-center type rooting compound, the kind with a small amount
of IBA and some fungicide in some inert base (talc?) up to the point they
will be inserted in soil, and tap off the excess. I use my standard
potting mix, thoroughly wetted, using something flat to open a slit in
which to place the cutting without wiping the rooting compound away. I
usually put these in small plastic seedling trays, put the whole thing in
a plastic bag, fold over the top but do not seal it completely, and forget
it. (Ok, I do check every few weeks to be sure they have not dried out

Over weeks to several months, the cuttings will slowly yellow, wilt, and
start decomposing among the mosses and liverworts and such that have begun
growing on the surface of the soil. When the last have pretty much wilted,
I open the plastic bag further to let things dry out and kill off the
pteridophytes. After some further time - I'm sorry that I haven't paid
more attention - I'll see leaves coming up from the tubers formed on the
cuttings that "took", and I remove those soil plugs and pot them up. It's
my impression that the cuttings which remain green the longest are most
likely to root, but all cuttings of species which I consider likely
prospects will remain green surprisingly long.

In addition to Amorphs. bulbifer and konjac, I have had success with
albispathos and TAFKAP ("The Amorphophallus Formerly Known as Parvulus").
I haven't tried titanum because the leaf just doesn't look promising to
me, and I'd rather have that surface area producing food for the tuber
than rotting away and not rooting. I could be wrong, of course.

Someone asked about my very nonscientific criteria for judging which will
and won't root. This may be as silly as reading tea leaves but here goes:
if the leaf is relatively shiny (reflective) and smooth in texture, and of
what an orchid breeder would call "light substance" when referring to a
flower, I can't seem to make it root. If it is more of a matte surface,
less reflective, and of heavier substance, it seems likely to root.
Perhaps others can compare some of the species we've succeeded with, and,
if I'm not imagining this completely, do a better job of describing it.
Even if I'm right, it doesn't rule out someone who uses more care
succeeding where I've failed, of course.


-- Steve Marak

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