Rhus typhina Tiger Eyes has been a difficult plant for us to propagate at Loma Vista Nursery using the softwood cutting method that we use for many other plant varieties. After doing some research on the subject, and interviewing the head grower at Bailey Nurseries, we are beginning a propagation trial using root cuttings.
Bailey Nurseries has experimented with different methods of propagation and have found that they have the highest percentage of rooting with root cuttings and softwood cuttings taken from the stems of the newly planted root cuttings. With this particular plant, the pieces of root are very small - 1/16" to ¼" in diameter and 1" to 1 ½" in length. We are taking root cuttings this fall and again in the spring and potting them in March. We are also beginning a trial stock planting of Tiger Eyes to use as a source for the root cutting material.
|Performa tray - image courtesy of Garden City Plastics|
At the same time we will be trialing the type of plug Bailey's uses for this particular cutting - a Jiffy Preforma plug.
What we hope to determine:
1. Can we set up a stock plant field to produce root pieces for propagation?
2. Will planting root pieces or taking cuttings from shoots emerging from the root pieces produce a higher rooting percentage?
3. Will taking root cuttings in fall or spring produce higher rooting percentages?
4. Is the extra cost of purchasing Preforma plug trays justified by the higher rooting percentage?
5. Can we propagate this plant without the additional expense of heating a propagation house by using a house that is bottom heated for overwintering of boxwood cuttings?
6. Can we wait until temperatures are warmer and supplemental heat is unnecessary to use root pieces for propagation?
If all goes according to plan, we hope to use the newly planted stock plants to produce all of the 1550 Tiger Eyes on the 2016 sales forecast. Wish us luck!