Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Blueberry Cuttings are Showing Signs of Life!

On the ninth of this month I took cuttings of some wild blueberry bushes. Today, the buds are swelling, and one has opened a leaf! I never really expected the twigs to do anything but rot. This is so exciting!

The cuttings I took were about six inches long, taken from the tips of woody or partially-woody branches. With a knife I scraped the bark off an inch or two of the outer bark on one side of the clipped end. Once cut, they went into a cup of water while I finished setting everything up.

My soil mix was about half sand – dug from our yard. The other half was a sloppy mixture of grass-starting soil and seed-starting soil. I wetted this mix down in a bucket and then filled two of my milk-gallon greenhouses with it. I made holes in the dirt with a pencil, and then let Chris dunk the cuttings into rooting hormone and stick them into the holes. (I’m pregnant, and there were a lot of warnings on the hormone package.) I sealed up the jugs, and placed one in the sunny window, and one nearby, out of the direct sun, for comparison.

Belatedly I realized that neither of us had bothered to “tuck in” the soil tightly around the twigs. Oh well!

Thirty twigs came home with me from my walk in the woods. About twenty-five of them passed inspection for cuttings – the rest were dead and dry. Of those, sixteen are now showing signs of life. The milk jug placed in the sunny window is showing more twigs with growth, and the buds are larger. The one emerged leaf is in that jug. I have moved both jugs into the window since that seems to be the best location.

One site I read said that even in commercial lowbrush-blueberry cultivation, only about 50% of the cuttings can be expected to survive. I suppose I’ve still got time to kill these plants, but so far the results are so exciting that I’m pondering what else I could take cuttings of. Hmm. . . I know where to find crab-apple and winterberry. And the neighbors might not mind if I took cuttings of their apple and peach trees. . .

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