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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 11, 2012

From: Rifle, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Rooting cuttings in water from Rifle CO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Found russian sage lavender stems from cutting. Need to find out if I can root them in water? I also have found rose cutting; wondering if I can put them in water to root? I have a western chokecherry cutting in water; will it root?

ANSWER:

This was 3 separate questions, so we combined them to save time, since they all deal with rooting woody plants in water.

From Mountain Valley Growers Perovskia atriplicifolia

From Livestrong.com on Russian sage lavender

"Botanical historians speculate that the confusingly named Russian sage became entangled with culinary sage because of its pungent scent. Although both are far-flung members of the mint family, culinary sage, or Salvia, claims no real kinship to Russian sage, or Perovskia atriplicifolia. Even more confusingly, the Asian native does not hail from Russia, but was brought to Western attention by a Russian general. Because of the "sage" in its nickname, some gardeners wonder if its foliage can be used like that of the culinary sages." Since this plant is obviously not native to North America nor Colorado, we will not have it in our Native Plant Database, but we have established that it is a woody shrub.

Although the member of the Rosaceae family from which you got the cutting is probably not native to North America, we found one, Rosa woodsii (Woods' rose), that is native to Garfield County. There is no "western" chokecherry in our database, but there is Prunus serotina var. virens (Southwestern black cherry). It is native to New Mexico but not Colorado, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map.

The main reason for all this discovery on the various plants you asked about was to establish if they were all woody plants, which they are. The methods of rooting cuttings can vary according to whether it is a perennial herbaceous blooming plant, or a woody plant, trees and shrubs. We are going to refer you to some websites on taking cuttings:

Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings from North Carolina State University. From that article:

"Early morning is the best time to take cuttings, because the plant is fully turgid. It is important to keep the cuttings cool and moist until they are stuck. An ice chest or dark plastic bag with wet paper towels may be used to store cuttings. If there will be a delay in sticking cuttings, store them in a plastic bag in a refrigerator."

How to Root Plant Cuttings in Water from Gardenguides.com. From that article:

"It is best to take cuttings from softwood plants (like houseplants, annuals, or some perennials) for rooting in water."

The main message that we got from these two articles was that woody plants are better propagated by stem cuttings into a special potting mix, and that either method required making the cuts and then very quickly getting them into the rooting medium. If you have cuttings you could certainly experiment and see if they will root, you really have nothing to lose-how much can a glass of water cost?

 

 

 

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