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Propagating blueberries from dormant hardwood cuttings

 
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I have a source of cultivar blueberries that I can take cuttings from.  I'm planning on building a bottom heat propagation bed in my basement to get some shrubs for the spring planting season.  I'm going to try aronia, highbush cranberry, grape and blueberry.  

I'll have a seedling heat mat on a thermostat at the bottom of a big rubbermaid tub.  I'll have 6" of peat/pearlite as the rooting medium.  I might go full peat for the blueberries if that makes more sense?  I've heard this system works best with warm soil and cool air so that's why I'm planning on the basement.

General questions:
Is the blueberry likely to work or destined to fail?
Would 100% peat moss be better for the blueberries?
What temp should I set the thermostat to?
How cold is ideal for the tops?  I have microclimates that include 40, 55, 60 and 65.
Should this be in the light or dark or does it matter?
Is 6" a good enough depth or should I go deeper?  The tub is over a foot deep.
 
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Clarify please, you already have the scion wood from dormant trees and that is what you are going to try and revive and grow roots?

I've never had any luck with using dormant tree cuttings as the starting point.
For the blueberries I think a mix of peat and pearlite or vermiculite would work better than pure peat.
I'd shoot for a 65-72 f bottom temp range and I would be sure to use 6% rooting hormone powder or liquid to stimulate.

Just remember to check the wood, it will need to have a green cambium that is moist all on its own.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay
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Hi Bryant, I have a friend with 100 blueberry bushes who said I can take as many cuttings as I want.  So they would be fresh cuttings from last summer's growth.  And yes, I want to try to root them into baby shrubs that I can hopefully plant out this summer.
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks for the tips Bryant, I have the rooting hormone already and I'll do the mix with the temps you suggest.  Thanks!
 
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I did an experiment after watching a youtube video of a guy who uses an air bubbler to root his cuttings.  
I took a fuzzy kiwi and several hardy kiwi and put them in a milk jug with an aquarium air pump and air stone. (Walmart Cheapies). Warming mat at 75F.
I started these on January 3rd and am seeing growth on the Fuzzy Kiwi.  A few more weeks should really indicate if this is a viable way to propagate viness
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Mike if they will let you air root them that works pretty well too. It just looks ugly. Once you have some plants I have been able to stool root them after two years. They might be OK after one but they have much more root the second.

I am thinking about investing in the warming mats and stuff because figs have been crappy without misters and the whole shenanigans so I'm following this. As always Dr Redhawk thank you for your authoritative input.
 
Mike Jay
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Hi Dennis, I saw Edible Acres do the bubble thing but that was in the summer.  I hadn't thought of trying it in the winter...  How do you use a warming mat with the bubbler?  

Thanks TJ, I don't think they will...  It's a Pick Your Own berry farm.  I do have a couple blueberries in the garden already but they aren't very robust yet.  By "stool root" do you mean you cover the crown of the plant with some extra dirt/sand and hope it roots out into that new material so you can cut off a branch?  Or something else?
 
Tj Jefferson
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Sorry thumb typing. Mike, I take a stem, put half a brick over it to weigh it down. Have a bunch of old bricks w the holes in them. Bury the brick in dirt so it holds the stem underground. Can cut the cambium a little prior for quick rooting. Bury in mulch. Wait...

I like edible acres stuff, not sure he's done blueberry. I use hormone if I remember.

Using this I can double blueberry plants every two years.
 
Mike Jay
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Gotcha, thanks for the clarification TJ.  If the pair in the garden have long enough branches I could try that this summer.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Mike, no problem. Blueberry is the hardest thing to propagate I grow. There's a toothpick method but I've never done it.

You kick ass.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Mike,  
I just have everything in a milk jug, cut in half with an air stone inside and sitting on top of a heating mat in my basement. I also stuck some dormant sticks in soil after dosing in IBA.  Want to see how they compare.
I also put some honey in the water jug for good luck.
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Mike Jay
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Awesome, thanks Dennis!  I might have to try that too.  I was going to do it with softwood cuttings this summer.  
 
Dennis Bangham
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I made a misting bench so I will try many different softwood cuttings this summer.  I did this because I wanted to trim the kiwi vines back for the winter and thought what the heck.  TIME TO EXPERIMENT.
I get bored easy.
 
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I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it can be difficult for many rooted cuttings to transition from water/hydroponics to soil. They seem to be shocked by having to deal with the increased gravity and resistance. Mike McGrath from You Bet Your Garden recommends adding gravel to the bottom of the container of water, ideally before rooting. However, even if something like roses have rooted in a vase, gently adding pea-marble gravel before transplanting to let them get used to working around solids seems to help. Kiwis have rooted pretty well for me in river sand alongside willows, if you want a free natural medium.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Ben, it's interesting you mentioned that. I bought some rooted cuttings and had very high mortality. I think they need to be transitioned despite having good size roots. These were obviously grown on peat moss and I saw no other medium like you are describing.

I hope I don't have to get commercial starts again but that makes a lot of sense.
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Ben, my main approach will be starting these hardwood cuttings in a potting mix.  Here's a video from Edible Acres about softwood cutting starts in a bubbling water bath outdoors in the summer:


And the followup:


Edible Acres rocks!
 
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I was given a whole bunch of dormant kiwi cuttings this fall, which I've never dealt with.  While researching, I found a lot of reports of the cuttings leafing out, but never really rooting.  Someone had success cutting the new growth off and rooting that, though.  Might be a useful trick.
 
Dennis Bangham
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I did some softwood cuttings last fall and they rooted on my misting bench and I transferred them to soil/compost filled pots.  I did over water several that died but still have several that are doing fine.  I found that even if the leaves drop I should still keep them in soil and water and the leaves will reappear.  The fuzzy kiwi seem to be more robust than the hardy.
The hardwood cuttings that I am showing here have only been started a couple of weeks now.  I will put some vermiculite in with the air stone just to see what happens.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Edible Acres rocks!



Indeed! I tried the experiment he was talking about with the compost tea combo rooting bubbler. Epic fail, all the cuttings turned into mush, and I was using a much stronger bubbler than he does. I sent him a message with my findings and he was appreciative. I think he said he thought that was a likely outcome and it saved him a bunch of possible cuttings.

His climate is more like yours than mine, ad so I haven't ever bought anything from him, but he looks like the stocks are full of life and robust. I would certainly check those out.
 
Mike Jay
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Ok, I'm back with another question.  The wonderful people with the blueberry plants suggested I wait until it warms up before taking the cuttings.  We're in a real cold snap today but it will be above average by the weekend.  I originally wanted to take the cuttings this weekend (35 degrees).  

So... is there any harm in taking cuttings now at the depth of winter?  Should I wait until maple syrup season (days just getting above freezing more often than not)?  I am in a hurry to get them stuck so they can hopefully be growing by spring in time to purchase replacements if they don't make it.

Thanks!
 
Tj Jefferson
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Mike,

this is my absolute go-to reference for fruit. Genius work. Full credit to the author Alexis Zeigler at conev.org.

There is a propagation section that really helped me understand the methods and I have fooled around with, for instance, stool layering for blueberries. This text seems very accurate, they are a challenge. When they get a little bigger I will build a setup to do them right since I will be making a couple hundred plants. Between this text (which since we have crappy internet I use more than youtube) and Edible Acres, you can get some plants out of it.

This source recommends toothpicking blueberries and establishing the cuttings over the winter in a cold frame. In your climate I have no idea what that means, a cold frame over winter is probably more like late spring up there. I think the root disturbance method is genius. It is hard to propagate a huge number, but I have done a couple.



Filename: fruitbook9.pdf
File size: 613 Kbytes
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Tj!  I read that reference before when you suggested it to someone else.  The blueberry section does have several options.  Unfortunately most of them require doing something the summer before (toothpicking, root disturbance).  I guess I'm stuck with either the "tubering" method or just traditional (and possibly ineffective) cuttings.  I doubt they'll want me cutting bigger pieces of wood from their plants for tubering but I'll see.
 
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