This past week has been propagation week as we have been taking cuttings of numerous shrubs in order to root them for potting up to grow next spring. Some of the shrubs and trees include azalea, magnolia, barberry, Franklinia, spiraea, hydrangea . . .! Unfortunately, some of the plants we would like to propagate are off limits as they are patented and the patent holders will not grant a small operation such as ours a license. Some of the cuttings take different strengths of a hormone containing indolebutyric acid while a few others require no hormone at all. On some cuttings such as rhododendron, Franklinia and magnolia, a shallow wound with a sharp knife is required before they are dipped in the rooting hormone in order to form roots. After the cuttings are stuck in rooting media of one part sifted canadian sphagnum peat to one part perlite, they receive 6 seconds of mist every 6 minutes for the next 6-8 weeks during the daylight hours.
All of this propagation knowledge I absorbed from my good friend and mentor Mr. John Ravestein who was born and raised in Boskoop, Holland. Mr. Ravestein’s knowledge was so vast that I remember telling him that he could get roots to grow on a stick of firewood! At Losely Nursery in Perry, Ohio, Mr. Ravenstein’s greenhouse and propagation beds produced thousands of plants for the nursery and so much so that the propagation facilities were like a factory. How fortunate for me to having met Mr. Ravestein who had helped me so much. Unfortunately I cannot thank him again as he is now deceased a few years back. I will always remember how he told me that when one thing doesn’t work, try something else!
Never give up.