There are many types of vegetatively reproducing a plant – cutting, layering, division, grafting and tissue culture. A chance comment on the NAFEX list when I was looking for information on how to propagate our Illinois Everbearing Mulberry led me to bubble cloners and aeroponic cloners. You’ll note that many of the links are to marijuana forums. These folks are some of the most creative horticulturalists on the planet. Poking around in these forums, I found lots of info on the bubbler technique in which the clones are submerged under water and are bubbled with an air stone and the aeroponic technique in which the clones aren’t submerged under water but are dangled and misted. It seemed to be a bit of a coin toss as to which was more effective. The costs of either cloner were pretty steep so I started looking at DIY. You tube had a huge number of videos but it was it was pictures like this and the very clear instructions – Lets Build a Clone Machine *Step by Step* (Also here). So I assembled the parts and built the same cloner.
There’s not much green at this time of year but I took cuttings from rosemary and stevia plants overwintering in a southeast window. And I took two cuttings from our Meyer lemon that spends its winter in the bathtub under a grow light. The rosemary and stevia proceeded to rot where the stems pass through the neoprene rubber and after a week or so the Meyer lemon leaves dried up and dropped off even though I had cut them in half to reduce transpiration.
When I started thinking about why the rosemary and stevia might have rotted, I wondered if our tap water might be the problem. It certainly was the cause of damping off in some of our seedlings.
So I decided to replace the tap water with spring water. And I decided to put jars over the cuttings to act as greenhouses and keep the leaves moist.
The cutting callused and produced the beginnings of a root.
Then it flowered! I pinched it off to hopefully direct energy to root production.
Then it produced a root!!
Apparently Meyer Lemons aren’t that difficult to root but nonetheless I now have two where I previously had one.
But that’s not where this story ends.
For the past few years, I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to grow Elaeagnus multiflora. What I thought as a seedling, turned out to be Elaeagnus umbellata and the Elaeagnus multiflora cutting did not overwinter.
A horticultural friend in France sent me some Sweet Scarlet goumi seeds and some Elaeagnus umbellata “Brilliant Rose” seeds. Thank you, Nicolas. These are cultivars so any seedlings will not be true to the parents. At this point, I don’t care. Four of the autumn olive seeds germinated as did one of the goumi seeds.
As you can see, the seedlings are quite spindly, especially the autumn olive on the left. So I decided to cut them back to force lateral shoots. On a whim, I stuck the cuttings in the aeroponic cloner under glass as I had done with the Meyer lemon.
This morning, this picture of one of the “Brilliant Rose” cuttings says it all. More pictures.
But I’m sure that there will be more good stories to come from this cloning technique.