Propagating cypress and thuja can be a rewarding experience for gardeners. Both plants offer unique aesthetic appeal and are valued for their hardiness and versatility. Here’s a step-by-step guide to propagating these plants effectively.
- Cutting Selection: Select a healthy cypress branch, preferably one year or less in age for tip cuttings and two or more years old for heel cuttings. Cut a 4 to 8-inch portion using hedge shears, keeping leaves attached.
- Wounding the Cutting: Use a razor blade to wound the cutting. Make a 1- to 2-inch vertical cut down either side of the base and strip off the lower side branches to expose the cambium.
- Preparing the Cutting: Remove 1 1/2 to 2 inches of leaves or needles from the bottom of the branch cutting using scissors. Ensure no leaves touch the planting medium.
- Planting Medium: Use a mixture of one part sand and one part peat in a flower pot. Insert the base of the cutting into a hole in the mixture and pack it firmly.
- Watering and Humidity: Water the planting mixture well and cover the pot with a milk jug (bottom removed) or a plastic bag to create a humid environment. Keep the pot in a sunny area with temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Transplanting: Once the cutting develops two or three roots at least 1/2 inch long, replant it in a pot with potting soil. Cover the pot with the milk jug or plastic bag for a week and gradually adjust it to outdoor conditions.
- Cutting Selection: Choose healthy thuja trees for cuttings to minimize disease spread. Make cuttings about 6 to 8 inches long, removing the bottom 4 inches of vegetation from the stem.
- Soil Preparation: Fill a growing tray with potting soil, creating uniform holes. Dampen the soil surface by misting with water.
- Rooting Compound: To avoid contamination, use a separate dish for the rooting compound. Dip thuja cuttings in the compound and place them in the soil, ensuring to remove air pockets.
- Humidity and Temperature Control: Cover the growing tray with plastic and place it on a heat mat in a bright location, but away from direct sunlight. Too much heat can be detrimental to the cuttings.
- Ventilation and Watering: Ventilate the tray daily by removing the plastic for at least an hour. Water only when the soil appears dry and avoid wetting the cuttings.
- Transplanting: Once roots develop, remove the plastic cover and move the tray into direct sunlight. Continue care until a healthy root system develops, then transplant into individual containers. Eventually, transfer the new thuja trees outdoors.
Successfully propagating cypress and thuja involves careful selection of cuttings, proper preparation of soil and cuttings, and maintaining optimal humidity and temperature conditions. With patience and attention to detail, these plants can thrive and bring beauty and utility to any garden setting.