Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

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Joshua
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Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by Joshua »

This bushy Mirabelle Plum grows in a fairly shady area at the bottom of my street. It's made some nice fruit the last couple of years.
tree.jpeg
I've been pretty keen on growing some in a pot on my balcony for a while and finally went to get some hardwood cuttings today (winter here). I read somewhere here that prunus in general can tolerate a lack of sun and I think I remember also reading that they're not too difficult.

Noticed that some of the flower buds had almost started to bloom so didn't want to leave it any later.

I have no idea what makes a good cutting, but heard that pencil thick straight sections are the way to go. There were a lot of really small twiggy branches that appeared to have buds (mostly flower buds from what I can tell), coming off slightly thicker branches. I took a bit of a mix and I'm sure there were at least a couple of good ones in there.

Here's the loot:
cuttings 1.jpeg
cuttings 2.jpeg
cuttings 3.jpeg
I put them in these 20cm deep pots with a mix of coco coir and perlite (about half half but a bit more coco).
pots.jpeg
I cut them mostly into about 20cm sections, each time on an angle just below a node, removing any little branchlets and flower buds, and soaked the bottom 2/3 in a solution of Osyril.
(I have no idea what this stuff is but it's sold here as 'root growth stimulator'. I can't seem to find rooting hormone here).
I was going to dip the ends in honey too but forgot.
I planted them with about 1/3 of the cutting sticking out, watered, then tipped the Osyril solution in after watering.

Here they are planted.
potted.jpeg
Should I cover them with a plastic bag to keep the humidity, or is that really only for when there are leaves? I've seen conflicting opinions on this. I'm doing it anyway for now unless someone tells me it's a bad idea :P

I'm keeping them outside in a shaded but bright spot on the balcony. I think I read somewhere that if inside in the warm that will encourage the leaves to take off too early compared to the roots.

Will post an update if take off :fc:
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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by Matt S »

Great post Joshua, keep us posted on your progress.

I'm the last person to give advice on propagating deciduous trees, so I'll leave that to others, but I enjoy seeing other people's attempts.

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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by shibui »

The plums I have tried have all been easy to strike as cuttings.
As you mentioned, straight, pencil thick sections are usually used because those are usually vegetative wood without flower buds but any parts can strike roots. Cuttings 3 shows the type of cuttings I usually look for. Those with small side shoots are probably older, flowering wood and strike rates may be a little lower.
I am surprised that you cannot find rooting hormones in your area. I just searched and see that powder, liquid and gel formulae are available. Plums usually have enough natural rooting auxins already for good success. The Osyril you have does not appear to have any IBA or NAA which are the 2 common rooting compounds but it should not hurt and the product claims to help so hopefully it will.

I get better strike rates when I keep humidity high as even dormant cuttings still transpire slowly and can dehydrate before new roots form. I have automatic misting for cuttings but plastic bags will do the same thing. Some people open the bag every week or so to allow fresh air to deter fungal problems and to check soil moisture. Just watch for any sign of mildew or mould on the cuttings. If you see anything suspicious a spray with Hydrogen peroxide is a great antibiotic for seedlings and cuttings.

It is generally believed that flowers waste energy that could be used for roots so most growers pick off any flower buds if they develop on cuttings.

Outside is probably the best place but make sure they do not get full sun a the plastic bags can heat up quick.
Best results are when soil is slightly warmer than the tops but that's hard to manage unless you have bottom heat. Most cuttings will be fine in ambient temperature and plum should be fine.

Good luck with striking these plums. If this lot does not work well you should try some summer cuttings. They strike much quicker but definitely need added humidity. With plastic bag covers you can still get good results from summer cuttings.
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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by Joshua »

Thanks for the advice!
Only about two weeks later and they're already starting to shoot. Almost all of them too.

Now I guess the hard part will be keeping them alive until they're ready for a repot (and beyond).

I've been keeping them on the balcony with ziploc bags on top. Initially they were under a bench but I decided they should probably get a little more sun than that, so moved them up. They're partly shaded from morning sun by another plant, and from midday sun by an empty trellis. Full shade (bright indirect light) in the afternoon.

Night temperatures have been consistently above zero for at least a week and day temperatures have gone up to around 17 a couple of days, although it looks like it might cool off again soon (I'll also note that fungus gnats, fruit flies, aphids and spiders are all clearly already enjoying this).

I took off the bags briefly a couple times per week. I'll start doing that a little more often and for longer.

I picked off a few buds then realised I should probably read up on the difference between flower and leaf buds. I was guessing pretty correctly but might have taken off a couple of the wrong ones.

Interesting to notice that some of the thin ones I thought weren't going to work at all are shooting with more leaves, and more quickly, than the others.

Just showing one of the two pots. They're all a bit slower in the other one and couldn't get a decent photo anyway.
20220206 Mirabelle first shoots.jpeg
shibui wrote: January 22nd, 2022, 4:40 pm I am surprised that you cannot find rooting hormones in your area.
I admit I didn't look online, just that in the main commercial garden shops I wasn't able to find much. One day I'll look for and ask about those particular compounds or just order online. For now not too worried because it's optional and more for optimising and improving the success rate.
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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by shibui »

Plums are definitely easier so, as a veteran cutting grower it is hard to see why you were even concerned. Obviously the benefit of hindsight.

Great to hear that your cuttings are doing well.
The move to more sun is good because the leaves can now produce food and help the new plants grow.
Changing air and gradual adjust to life without a plastic bag is also textbook propagation technique.
I'm guessing these are probably over the worst so chances are you already have new plants. :tu:
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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by Joshua »

Bit of an update. Several have just died off and the rest don't look great.
I suspect that most are just because the cuttings were too thin and didn't have enough energy to begin with. Also perhaps I should have started introducing a bit of fertiliser earlier.
Of the initial 19, 17 started growing leaves. Now there are 6/7 are still alive but don't look promising either.

Any general advice for caring for these?
Also if any survive and start looking healthy, when should I consider repotting?
20220804 mirabelle cuttings progress d.jpeg
20220804 mirabelle cuttings progress b.jpeg
20220804 mirabelle cuttings progress a.jpeg
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Re: Mirabelle Plum, Cuttings 2022 (Prunus Domestica subsp. Syriaca)

Post by shibui »

Some of the remaining cuttings look OK. Just keep caring for them. Water when to soil start to dry, high humidity around the leaves if possible.
Maybe you transitioned to no dome a bit too early before they had started roots.
Maybe the mix was not right. Potting soil or garden soil often have diseases in them that can infect cuttings.

You could try again with fresh twigs. A bit later in spring is a good time when the new shoots have hardened up a bit.
:fc:
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