Hibiscus Propagation
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Questions & Answers
See also Larry Johnson's root stock propagation tutorial

QUESTION(S) (click any image for a larger picture)

I just got a cutting, see picture :-) The hardwood bottom part does not have any leaves and the twigs have leaves. I am not sure to cut them off as the bottom part of the cutting does not have any leaves (it was like that already). Just want to make sure it does not go wrong :-) By the way, it is from a yellow flowering hibiscus (don't know the name).

I have some questions about cuttings. I have several cuttings, some tip cuttings and some hardwood cuttings. They are all planted with rooting powder and I did not know if I had to take the leaves off or leave them on. So I tried different things. I found that the tip cuttings are doing best, I took off some leaves but left most of them, I didn't know if I had to cut off the flower buds so I left some on and one if growing now, even while the cutting is just a week old. The hardwood cuttings are not doing so well. I think I did something totally wrong: I put the whole branch in the soil.
My questions are:
-do you have to take off the leaves off tip cuttings/hardwood cuttings?
-do you have to cut off twigs from hardwood cuttings?

Hope you can help :-)

ANSWER (click any image for a larger picture)
I know you can use big cuttings - but I prefer uniform 10 cm (4")
approximately cuttings with about one third in the growing medium.
I don't leave any big leaves at all.  Even the soft spring growth gets cut
back to a couple of half leaves.
As for the greener tops, remove all but a small bunch of half-leaves, NO

Cuttings feed off their own stored starch for the first few weeks and will
shoot, giving you the impression they are growing.  They are not.  However,
they will be forming a white callus (like scar tissue) at the bottom and, if
you waste one by pulling it out, you will see little white dots where the
roots are starting to form, usually after about 4 weeks in good conditions.
You need minimum night temps above 15 degrees C (60 degrees F) for best

After about 6 weeks, you will see the first of the new leaves reach full
size as on the original plant and that is usually a good indication that
roots have formed.

These pictures I just went and took show two pieces of wood, then trimmed to
6 cuttings.  Note one has a diagonal cut to show how some do it - I usually
just cut horizontally.

I show them planted singly or in threes.  I show them with small bag tents -
or in a Coke bottle hot-house to supply humidity. Be careful you don't leave
the bag/bottle in the sun, just filtered light, or you will cook them.  If
you have a lot, Use a larger ice-cream container and use a white shopping bag
for your tent.

Water well, then only when dryish.  Wet feet will rot cuttings very quickly.
I have also left them sit in a shady spot for an hour or two to dry off
somewhat initially.  But most people plant immediately. You should put some
fungicide in the watering can at first and again every 10 days or so.

The tent can come off after about 4 weeks and you can pot them individually
in starter pots (3" or 4") once the roots are out the drainage holes.

You should cut all the twigs off larger cuttings but leave a stub which may
produce a shoot.  Green twigs transpire, releasing moisture into the air,
moisture that is pulled from the cutting causing it to shrivel and die.

I don't recommend "soil" as all the rotting bacteria are there already just
waiting for a feed.  I use straight perlite or 5 parts perlite to one part
peat - nice and sterile to give the cuttings a fighting chance.

Good luck.  I hope I've helped.

You can grow long cuttings.  Just make sure the twigs are all removed except
for a small branch stub which will have an eye to shoot.

Soil will work with some hardier varieties particularly if you let them dry
on the tip before planting.

However, you are still better off getting a uniform size that you are
comfortable with - and have success with - in growing cuttings.  You'll have
lots of "friends" too when you give away the extras!!