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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cutting media - acid vs alkaline

In my previous past I mentioned that the fella at the nursery had a wealth of info on rooting various cuttings.

One of the things he told me about was the pH of the rooting media.

He liked to add acid to his soaking solution to bring the pH of the plugs down to around 6.5.

Otherwise these plugs register a level 7.0.

Okay, so I put a little fish emulsion in a quart of water and added 1t of citric acid.  No change to the pH!  Hmm.  That was the last of my canning citric acid, so I added 1/4C of apple cider vinegar.  The meter barely budged.  I added another 1/4C of vinegar.  Eventually the pH dropped to 6.75.  Good grief.  Who knew it took so much acid to affect pH?

Anyway, I decided to not dink with it anymore.  And I probably already regretted adding vinegar instead of running out and buying more citric acid, but I didn't feel like it.

So I thought I'd do an experiment.

I took cuttings from my red twigged dogwood, my Nishiki willow and my Mellow Yellow spirea.

The dogwood cuttings were very twiggy, so I went with the guy's suggestion to pare off a strip from the bottom before rolling the cut in the rooting compound.

One batch went into the acid-soaked plugs.

One batch went into plugs soaked only with a little fish emulsion.

Both of the mini-germinators are now on the warm shelf over the furnace. 

We'll see if the acidic plugs root any differently than the neutral plugs.

But honestly, I won't use the vinegar for lower pH again.  I just can't think it is good for the cuts.

Meanwhile, here's the where I'm going to get all my holly cuts.

Ain't she a beauty?   I'd cut it down to the ground when I moved in here 11 years ago.

It's now almost 12' tall and always filled with bright red berries.  What's not to love?

According to my research, holly cuts are to be taken in late Fall and early Winter. None of my research, however, said that the plant police would show up if I took cuttings now! LOL (I'll take some from the back facing the golf course.)

Watch for upcoming rooting posts!

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