Hibiscus Propagation
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Propagation from Cuttings

There are many "theories" as to the best way to take cuttings.  Ultimately, your own experience will adjust whatever method you try first, second or third.  Here are a couple to get you started.
[See also Yvonne Forsling's unique method from Sweden
and Jim Purdie's method for growing rootstock in a perlite mix]

See also the Q & A topics on cutting propagation

Propagation by Tip Cutting

Tip cuttings of hibiscus require a moist and uniform 70-80 degrees F (or 22-27 degrees C.) atmosphere and well-drained media. Therefore tip cuttings should be taken during the warmer months, September to April being the most suitable time.

Cuttings are inserted into a media of coarse, sharp sand and some peat moss, about 3 sand : 1 peat being suitable proportions. The sand should be washed clean with running water and allowed to drain. Then add the peat and mix together. Some crushed brick or similar drainage material should go in the bottom of the propagating box before adding the mixture about 5” (12cm) deep. Gentle even watering is needed to settle the media and then a nail or dibble stick is used to punch one-and-a-half inch (4cm) holes for the cuttings.

Cuttings should be about 5-6” long. The cutting is cut cleanly across just under a leaf node and some of the lower leaves removed, a few of the larger remaining ones halved. Remember, the more leaves, the faster they strike! Cuttings should then be pushed gently into the dibbled holes and firmed (not rammed) into place. They should not be planted too deeply. The box should then be watered again.

The lid of the propagation box, usually a sheet of glass, should not be closed down tight but should be raised slightly to allow some ventilation. The cuttings should not be over-watered, but naturally, you should not allow them to dry out or begin to wilt. Climate conditions govern the amount of water needed. The media should be kept moist but not wet.

The propagating box needs to be kept in a place where the temperature stays fairly constant. In semi-shade of a shrub or medium-leafed tree where it gets filtered morning sun - an easterly aspect - is best. Roots should appear in 4-5 weeks. Once the cuttings have begun to grow well. allow more ventilation over several days. This gradually hardens the plants. Open the lid completely for about one week before transplanting out into 4” pots.


Hardwood Cutting Propagation - by Allan Little

Hibiscus strike readily from cuttings and will normally root in 4-6 weeks. Hardwood cuttings are usually taken in Spring-Summer (all year round if you're lucky to have a hot-house).

Use straight wood, pencil thickness or a little larger. Remove all the leaves with secateurs and trim to approximately 4-6 inches long. With a sharp knife or secateurs, make a cut at about 45 degrees just below the eye or node at the base of the cutting. The base can be "wounded" by taking a sliver off the stem to expose the cambium layer 1-2 inches on one or two sides, a procedure aimed at increasing the area from which roots will be produced.

The next step before potting is to apply a rooting hormone in powder, liquid or gel form. This step is optional but, if used, will promote earlier striking and a more vigorous root growth. The cuttings are usually placed in individual propagating tubes or small pots.

Place cuttings in the shadehouse to protect them from wind and to prevent their drying out. Cuttings will root quite well in coarse river sand but the risk of this drying out is high and it is safer to add a little peat or perlite to the medium to hold moisture. However, various mixtures of perlite, peat and perlite, peat and sand, etc., have all been successful.

Once the cuttings have struck, they can be potted on into larger pots using a good quality potting mix.

When taking cuttings for rootstocks, use albo-lacinatus (Ruth Wilcox), Landersii (Pride of Hankins), Archerii or Pink Psyche.