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  #1  
Old September 28th, 2005, 05:32 PM
Lilly55 Lilly55 is offline
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Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

I read about people using aquariums to cover propagated stem cuttings that are planted in pots etc but I have done it the other way around - will this be ok?...

A week and a half ago I filled an aquarium 12 inches deep with sphagnum moss and perlite (2:1) and placed wounded (5% IBA dipped) arborvitae stem cuttings in this medium. I covered the aquarium with clear plastic, leaving it slightly open for ventilation. It is placed in a room with indirect sunlight with bottom heat of 70-80 degrees.
The acquarium does not have holes in the bottom but I am not drenching the soil, just keeping it moist everyday. Will the arborvitae root under these conditions and when do I need to add fertilizer?

Thank you,
Lilly
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  #2  
Old September 28th, 2005, 11:26 PM
growest growest is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Lilly--I suspect that your cuttings will be successful. Arborvitae are one of the easiest things to root, and your setup has several good things going for it.

If I were you I would try to put the aquarium in a cool area...personally I would root them outdoors this time of year, but a cool room at least. And the bottom heat would be best closer to 70, 80 is pretty high for most things, esp. these. Try for a difference in temps between air and media of maybe 20F. to stimulate roots forming over topgrowth.

I'm hoping the 5% IBA was a quick dip, that is pretty strong but maybe okay if it didn't soak in there too long! Or did you mean 0.5% talc, which is semi-hardwood or #2 strength powder...a good choice actually...

Finally, try to keep the cuttings cool over the winter so they don't try to grow before they have good light and daylengths, then you can pot them up and give them a bit of fertilizer...control release in the potting mix then would work for e.g.
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Old September 29th, 2005, 12:24 PM
Lilly55 Lilly55 is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Growest, thank you for your swift and helpful reply. I did mean 0.5% IBA! When you say keep the cuttings cool over the Winter, how would I do that?
Also, I put the cuttings inside in an aquarium thinking it was mimicking a greenhouse. If I take them outside now will they not be too cold at night? I live in zone 8.
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Old October 1st, 2005, 11:59 AM
growest growest is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Lilly-professional growers wouldn't actually keep their arborvitae cuttings in a heated greenhouse over the winter (they aren't worth enough to justify the $ for fuel). And they are perfectly hardy, esp. if protected from the wet.

At this pt. I hate to give advice from a distance...I don't know if your cuttings have gotten used to being indoors, and started to grow a bit of soft new leaf that will be damaged by the cooler nights.

In general, I would just root them outdoors in a shady spot, some bottom heat will definitely speed up the process. And a cover of poly on some hoops would protect from too much rain while keeping the humidity high and steady. I wouldn't expect, or want, any topgrowth til next spring.

The aquarium is a similar idea, just that indoors you may get the topgrowth wanting to increase in the winter with very little intensity and duration of sunlight.

I think I'm confusing more than helping now, aren't I?
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  #5  
Old October 1st, 2005, 03:15 PM
Michael F Michael F is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Isn't there a risk the arborvitae cuttings will be damaged by the fish?
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Old October 2nd, 2005, 01:22 PM
Lilly55 Lilly55 is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

I must admit, the fish don't look too healthy but maybe they're adding a bit of extra fertilizer to the mix...

But seriously, this is a learning curve for me so your comments are most appreciated. I ended up taking the aquarium outside on bottom heat with a plastic box over the top... just waiting and hoping now but I have that sinking feeling (pun intended).

I'm going to try again and I'm going to use 1% IBA talc and dig a hole and put them outside in a shady spot covered with plastic as you suggest.

The aquarium is a similar idea, just that indoors you may get the topgrowth wanting to increase in the winter with very little intensity and duration of sunlight.
-you're right I'm not sure what you mean here...

Any suggestions for bottom heat as well please and where I could get it online? Thank you again.
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  #7  
Old October 2nd, 2005, 03:23 PM
growest growest is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Lilly--you can lay electric heating cable in a back and forth loop under your cuttings, preferably lay down a sheet of styrofoam to keep the heat from moving down into the earth so much, then place the cable on something like a sheet of plywood or I use sheets of corrugated fiberglass which also helps to space the cable evenly. Cover this all with a layer of at least 2in. of sand to even out the heat, a layer of hardware mesh over the cable first also really helps to evenly radiate the heat up to the cuttings. Then the flats or pots of cuttings go on top of the sand layer.

Stick some rain shedding material like poly on hoops made of concrete reinforcing mesh or black poly pipe stuck in the ground to form an arch. Even easier might be a spot right up against the house, under the eaves. If it's in the shade, you probably won't need any extra humidity in this area, but you can give it a light misting anytime you think of it to help the cuttings keep moisture in them.

Rhodos, camellias, arctostaphylos, hebes are other plants I've done in October with great success using a simple and cheap setup like this. Fall and winter propagating is easier, tho slower to form roots most of the time. You won't need the intermittent mist which is pretty well necessary to root things in the heat of summer. And as the cold weather comes, I would crank down the heat to save money and also keep the media from drying out too quickly...the cuttings will just wait till it warms up to continue rooting, then start top growth when the days lengthen in spring.

One more tip about that drying out over the winter, the pots or flats will dry out from the bottom up when you have heat from the bottom, so poke around or lift a pot every so often to see if you need to water everything. The top of the "soil" can look perfectly moist while roots at the bottom of the pot are dying in total drought.

Since you're in Oregon, you must have lots of nursery suppliers around from which you can get a soil heating cable. Otherwise, can you use what you were using under the aquarium?
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Old October 2nd, 2005, 04:51 PM
Lilly55 Lilly55 is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Thank you so much for this advice. I'm using a heater blanket under the aquarium but it doesn't seem to get above 70 degrees outside. I wanted to aim for 75 and be more consistent so I'll get an electric heating cable. Do I need the thermostat as well? Also, can I substitute top soil for sand in your scenario? Thank you again.
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Old October 4th, 2005, 08:09 AM
growest growest is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

Lilly--I wouldn't crank up the bottom heat too much, esp later into the winter.

The idea is to have the bottoms warmer than the tops of the cuttings, which won't take much in winter when the tops are sometimes freezing! I think maybe 15-20F warmer on the bottoms is usually recommended...so I wouldn't go above 70F now, and it could easily go down to 50F and still create roots thru the winter.

I don't think most of the big propagators would even heat their cuttings in winter, tho they would perhaps already be rooted, having stuck them earlier in the summer under mist. Remember these are hardy plants, even at a young age they can freeze solid, (as long as they aren't drowning then turning into little ice cubes, that can mess up the little roots!). A bit of plastic or something to keep the rain off, and they will just wait till spring to continue rooting and then growing on top...
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Old October 4th, 2005, 12:21 PM
Lilly55 Lilly55 is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

I was expecting to see roots in 6-12 weeks. So, I should just leave them 'til Spring then and keep making sure they are moist?
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Old December 11th, 2005, 11:18 PM
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fourd fourd is offline
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Re: Arborvitae Propagation in An Aquarium

I have a couple of aquariums that I use ... but technically I think it is a terrarium since it doesn’t have fish, water etc (at least not anymore). I put a couple if inches of pure peat on bottom (water reservoir) and cover that with sandy loam. On my high tech one I have plant heat pad that just fits the bottom and sits on thermal foam, a soil thermometer, a air thermometer, a hydrometer, grow light, … and fitted with a my special custom poly topper. On the low tech one I’m able to remove the top rim – I use handy wrap and replace the rim … and, go figure but the the low tech one consistently yield superior results.

I believe that the problem with bottom heat with this set up is that it also raises air temp in the enclosed environment (goal is to keep bottom warm and top cool) … ventilation becomes a issue … and with ventilation comes water loss … and with water loss come the need to spray … over watering can easily occur and there is no way to easily rid excess water although the peat reservoir at the bottom helps regulate it. And if someone knows how to easily overcome all this I would sure like to know! I believe the other problem is humidity – not all plants like 90+ humidity and so rot can be a problem

Oddly, on the low tech one I just cover with the handy wrap let sit in north window – no care is needed and it has never failed me. Was sitting for over two years care free before ferrets removed the handy wrap – yea we don’t get along but that is another story. Anyway, I’ve been told that this works because the handy wrap allows the breathing of vital oxygen and CO2 while allowing the retaining the water – the freshness secret of handy wrap I guess. Just sharing my experiences…
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