Human beings love to take simple things and make them as complicated as possible!
My job as your gardening/growing mentor is to get you back to the basics so you can focus on what works and get more done.
There are a lot of different ideas about how to go about any given task, but as a grower most would acknowledge that I do a pretty good job and when you see my nursery absolutely packed with eager buyers loading plants into wagons, cars and buyers everywhere, I think it’s safe to say that I am pretty successful at what I do.
But in the last year or so, in Our Members Area, people are really confusing themselves with the issue of when and how to fertilize their plants, especially their rooted cuttings.
So I am doing this post to show people exactly what I do, why I do it, and why it works as successfully as it does.
You? Complicate things as much as you want. Confuse yourself with which fertilizer to use when, how much to apply, when to reapply it, how much is too much, how much is not enough.
Or you can simply do as I do and realize the results that I do.
So I made a couple of movies about how we do our cuttings, how we harvest and store our cuttings until we can get them potted and when and I fertilize my cuttings. Watch, enjoy and criticize if you must.
So let’s do this in a bit of chronological order.
If you pay close attention you’ll see how our crop of rooted cuttings has been rotated in and out of the propagation beds. In This Post about Pulling Rooted Cuttings you’ll see photos of me digging rooted cuttings out of the bed closest to the building. In the videos below you’ll see how all of those cuttings are gone and how that bed is full of more rooted cuttings.
In the post mentioned above you’ll see the process of pulling the cuttings, trimming them, root pruning them, and heeling them into large pots until we can get them potted.
In this video, you’ll see what those cuttings look like after they’ve been heeling awhile.
Fertilizing rooted cuttings.
In this video I discuss the fertilization of rooted cuttings and in the video I admit that I never fertilize my rooted cuttings. Oh my gosh Mike, how do they ever survive? Watch the movie!
Mike! When do your plants get fertilized?
This is really important, pay attention.
My plants get fertilized when we pot them up.
One gallons or 2 quart containers get one tablespoon of a good slow release fertilizer at the time of potting. Two and three gallon pots get two tablespoons of slow release fertilizer.
My plants get fertilized once a year!
That’s it. They get fertilized when we pot them and nothing gets fertilized until after our spring sales. Anything that is left after our spring sales gets fertilized then. Again, just one shot of slow release as described above. That’s it! One feeding per year.
That’s all they need. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.
Look at my plants, they are thriving. If yours are not doing well then it’s probably your Potting Mix, not the lack of “more” fertilizer.
You really need to know this about potting soil.
If you are in Our Members Area, then you know exactly what commercial, slow release fertilizer I use. I really can’t share that here. But if you are just starting out then I suggest you use Osmocote 14-14-14. It’s what I used for years and years and years. It works just fine.
Do Not Use Any Other 14-14-14 Fertilizer!
It will kill your plants deader than dead over night. I’m not kidding about that. It has to be a slow release that takes months to fully release.
For more detailed information about when and how to stick cuttings, or root cuttings check out these two articles.
- Rooting Cuttings in the Summer, Softwood Cuttings.
- Rooting Cuttings in the Winter, Hardwood Cuttings.
Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I’ll respond.
hi mike, tried to propagate hardwood cold hardy kiwis. After a month of being put in seed starting mix they sprouted a branch full of leave, and some roots were seen thru the clear containers about two weeks later the branches started wilting and then died and fell off. growing them in the house on a heating pad. I was wondering I heat my house with wood, relative humidity is 20%. did they die of thirst because the air is so dry? I want to try again, any suggestions
they probably failed because it was too warm too fast and they leafed out and put on new growth without the roots to support the top growth. We do hardwood cuttings outside where they leaf out very slowly and grow slow giving the roots a chance to keep up. And of course hardwood cuttings only work on certain plants. Try them as softwoods. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
Gladys Hall says
How do I get rid of bittersweet vines? They are horrible. We’ve tried brush killer spray, pulling up as much of the vine and root as we can, then painting on some brush killer. No luck they are still here and gradually taking over the place. Any suggestions???
Dig out all you can and as soon as they pop back up spray them again and again. or, just keep digging and chopping and keep the soil work up nice and loose. You can win this battle.
David Wilson says
When and how is the best way to do cuttings for locust trees? Softwood? Hardwood? It is a thornless locust, so I don’t want to propagate the suckers that come up as I’ve heard they often will have thorns.
You can try softwood cuttings but most trees are either grown from seed or budded onto a seedling. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
Alyecia Higgins says
Hi mike! I’m so happy I found your website! Your videos have been super helpful for me! I recently took cutting from my childhood home of apple, cherry, mock orange, lilac and wild rose, I followed your video and dipped them in rooting hormone and then into course sand and have kept them moist. They are also in a glass cold frame I built. They all have been putting out leaves but don’t seem to be growing roots, my question is how long should it take them to root or is there anything I can do to encourage it? I took the cuttings in Late January this year.
Thanks for any help you can offer!
Patience my friend. Hardwood cuttings are slow to root. Just keep them watered and go about your life. They should root by mid summer. Don’t worry about them, some make it some don’t, we always do extras. By that time softwood cutting season will be upon us, and soft woods root faster. See this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
Della Jackson says
I was wondering can I reuse the sand in the proprergstion box.?
You can until it gets too dirty and weedy.
Della Jackson says
Thx I was not sure. I hated to have to buy new. When this is new. Lol
I’ll be taking cuttings from a muscadine vine one day this week. I plan to prune the long vines from last years growth (winter pruning) and then cut into individual cuttings as you describe. I may not be able to get all of this done in one day. My question is will it hurt to leave the long vines for a day or two before separating into individual “sticks”?
Absolutely it will not hurt them. Leave them as long pieces, out in the cold, until you are ready to stick them. Just make a fresh cut in the exposed end.
Thanks for the fast reply Mike! 🙂 Will do.
Mike, I don’t see much shade where Cathy is working here. Will you put the snow fencing that you use up after she is done sticking them or can you root under the mist in the direct sun with these quick rooting types? Thanks.
I have watched most of your you tube videos and want to thank you for all the awesome advise.
I bought a 170 farm acouple of years ago and have always done my own cuttings but never over wintered them in pots or in the ground , I’m in Ontario canada in a zone 4-5.
Can I still use the methods that that you talk about on the videos , I do have a few larger unheated hoophouses on the farm. 24′ x 110′ . will the rooted soft cuttings over winter in the sand beds you show.
I looking to start selling commercially as I’m on a major Highway.
Any advice would be appreciated.
All of my rooted cuttings stay outside, in the sand, uncovered all winter and they do fine. Containers like to be covered under white plastic it at all possible. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/11/over-wintering-protecting-plants-for-the-winter/
thanks so much .
Do u have to do the heeling process after you pull the cuttings out of your rooting boxes. If so why? Or can u move them straight from the box to pots?
They can go straight to the pots, but if they are really tiny and thin they actually fatten up while heeled in. This is really only an issue with summer potting when tiny cuttings fail easily.
Thank you very much for response! I understand the purpose now. I also can reuse my box for more cuttings if haven’t got to potting cuttings in time. I will try the heeling process when time comes. Thanks.
I want to plant a strawberry harvest. It is possible to start farming in the next month in November. I want to get you useful advice about this crop. This crop is beginning to cultivate for the first time, and one acre strawberry is to grow .Plose Guide me.
If you can find the plant now, you can plant them now. Most importantly, just keep the weeds from crowding out your plants. Guide the vines so you can cultivate between the rows.
Your knowledge & “How To” guidance is priceless!!!
I appreciate you so very much!!!
Your Biggest Fan ????
Thanks Rose, I appreciate that.
Jack Sullivan says
got cuttings to root. its october, where do i plant them. pots or in the ground?
In the ground is a safer bet, you can then pot them in earlier spring if you like. Or you can pot them now if you have a suitable potting soil.
Greg Hornsby says
I live in a neighborhood with 600 homes and everywhere I look I see cuttings! Cuttings! And more cuttings that I have no doubt that the homeowner would be happy to let me have in exchange for a free pruning. How in the heck can I identify these plants to make sure I don’t infringe on any intellectual property? I can see what I think they are, but varieties look a lot alike.
The short answer is you cannot positively identify them enough to offer them for sale. You have to start with properly tagged plants. That’s the most important thing that I can teach you. Are the cuttings that you have to stick “Rant Compliant”.
Honestly, this is the most important thing I can teach new members.
Now explained in a more technical way, this article is worth it’s weight in gold;
The link in this message is invalid. Do you have an updated URL for the document you are referencing? The amerinursery.com website appears to not exist any longer.
Thanks – love your websites and incredible knowledge. Am thinking of starting propagating plants myself in the near future. Just reading and trying to absorb as much as I can at the moment. Have ordered your Easy Plant Propagation book and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.
Ned Haughney says
Thank you for the videos. I too am a visual learner and would like to see close ups of Kathy placing the young plants in the sand. Thanks
Maybe on this page, I don’t honestly remember, we have so many videos. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
I’m planting cactus from seed, I received 50 seeds and filled a small pot up with sand then added the seeds.The seeds didnt come with instruction so im not sure if there going to spout or not.I have the pot in a white garbage bag in the window.
Do you think this might work indoors this winter?
I don’t see why not.
I love your emails, ideas, and enthusiasm. Do you use old pallet wood around your nursery for anything? I have a stack that I am anxious to put to its best use and I asked myself, “what would Mike do?”
Normally I do not but many do. Great for building compost bins etc. This really is a pretty broad discussion and would really get a lot of play in the members area.
i need some kind of information about termite attack on syzygium cumini cuttings. usually i planted cuttings on raised beds. Is there any effective control that would’nt effect the rooting of cuttings. please suggest some measures
thanks in anticipation
I don’t know, but normally an insecticide should not affect rooting cuttings.
thanks Mike for your time. i am looking forward for your suggestions in future
I stuck about 50 red osier and silky dogwoods in early June in a small tub.These are for my own property as native plantings. I have read where you pot after about a month and some the following spring. Which would you recommend and can they winter over in small pots? Thanks for all the info. My head is spinning with ideas.
Make sure they are well rooted before you pot them. I’d wait until fall and pot them in early September. They should be fine over the winter in pots. Just cluster them together in a protected area outside, not in a garage.
I’m confused and I don’t want to be a pain and I appreciate all the wonderful information you have made available…I bought your book and have been watching your videos. The book takes us through the box with lids and shade. Now I’m watching the video ” healing in rooted cuttings” it showing open boxes in full sun, what’s up? Is Kathy putting in uprooted cuttings for propagation, in the open boxes?
The propagation boxes are okay, but nothing works like this; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/mikes-plant-propagation-kit/, that’s why no cover etc. It’s like rooting magic.
Dilip Naik says
Hi Mr. Mike
Very nice video on rooting cuttings. I like to know when do you take tray out of trash bag? How do you check if roots developed or not.
A slight tug on the cuttings will tell which have roots and which don’t. Those with roots will resist while those without roots can easily be pulled up. Remove from the bag and place in the shade when most are rooted.
Thank you so much for these videos. I am a visual learner, and this info helps me immensely. Thank you for all you do and keep up the good work.
Nancy Graves says
Hi Mike, I am new Member and thinking about propagating poinsettia plants to bring some extra income in the winter months as well. What are your thoughts on poinsettia cuttings vs. seed, and wholesale or retail selling of these plants during the holidays?
I don’t know a lot about them and really can’t be of much help. The wholesale market for them is huge, but most buy from really large growers that can meet their needs. Me? I’d prefer to spend mine time that have more opportunities to sell at a later date and not just a few weeks in the winter.
Judie Hussey says
Somewhere and somehow I never received an answer about…..digging up “tuber wildflowers” and getting them either replanted…or….creating rooting another way so they survive in my garden.
I have cut many from fields and not a single one has survived so I am thinking something special must be done with them.
Thank you for ALL your awesome hints
The answer is to move them in clumps when they are dormant, not while they are actively growing.
This came at just the right time, I had to home build a rooting plastic containor of potting soil from a plastic 16 oz. soda pop.
When you say you put your RC in a pot of potting soil, what kind of potting soil? Same mixture that you use to pot up in your quarts, or something like Miracle Grow potting mix (with fertilizer)?
Same potting soil I use for potting all of my plants. That’s the only potting soil I have at the nursery.
Here are some tips on getting good potting soil;
Looking online for mulch is probably not the best place to look because many of the dealers who sell mulch really have little to no web presence at all. I’m sure there has to be some hardwood bark available in New Jersey.
I’d pick up the phone and start calling around. Garden Centers, landscapers and excavators will know who sells bulk hardwood bark mulch. These dealers are often hidden away on some side street.
I’d take a full day and visit as many garden centers and nurseries in your area that you can. Browse, ask some casual questions.
1. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk mulch.
2. Do you know of anybody in the area that sells bulk potting soil.
3. What do most growers around here use as a potting mix.
Bulk potting soil is available, usually around $55 a yard, but worth it. But it’s not readily available in all areas and in most cases you need to send a truck to get it.
But it won’t cost anything to ask these questions. You’ll either get really good, answers, might get the brush off, or you might find somebody who loves to talk about growing plants and will bury you in valuable information.
Good info here about potting soil, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/12/mike-mcgroartys-secret-bed-building-and-potting-soil-recipe/
Colleen Johnson says
I just read where you suggested using Osmocote 14-14-14 fertilizer. I certainly don’t doubt your knowledge I’m just curious why I should use it instead of the 20-20-20 for annuals and house plants by Bordines Nursery in Michigan that I use when putting my pots together for my deck each year? Possibly it’s not a slow release type I’m not sure but I also water my outdoor perennial plants with it too? I fertilize every couple weeks throughout the summer growing months so I believe I have just answered my own question as to rather it’s a timed-release type. Duh, silly me! I buy annuals that require lots of deadheading to get them to keep blooming all summer long. Possibly I shouldn’t be watering my perennials with it at all. Is this where I should be using the 14-14-14 you suggested? It certainly sounds like it. Honestly, I never gave it much thought and possibly I should have.
Annual flowers are a different animal. All of my plants get slow release, including perennials. What you are using is more of a flash in the pan and so are annual flowers when you think about it.