The Q&A Archives: Cuttings Rot Before Rooting

Question: I am having trouble propagating tibouchina (glory bush) from cuttings. I took softwood cuttings, cut off the lower leaves and cut the remaining two large leaves in half. Then I dusted the basal end in rooting hormone, planted them in moist perlite, covered them with a clear plastic bag, and placed them in a shady spot in an unheated, south-facing greenhouse (highest temperature near 80). However, within three or four days they rotted out. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: It sounds like you did everything right for rooting softwood cuttings; however, the cuttings may have "cooked" in the heat and sun of a south-facing greenhouse. If it was 80F in the greenhouse, it was probably hotter inside the plastic bag. Humidity is very important, though, so rather than dispense with the plastic bag, move the cuttings to an even shadier spot, and it may work better next time. Also, you might try rooting some in a mixture of vermiculite and perlite, and some in pure sand.

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