|I need help in learning how to get a start off of a gardenia bush. Please tell me how to do it.|
|Greenwood and semi-ripe cuttings root well at anytime of the year (March being the best time ). Both types of cuttings are taken from the current years growth. Basically, this means choosing shoots that have not become to woody (hard), nor those that are still soft and sappy. Use only healthy, disease free shoots. These cuttings differ from hardwood cuttings in that hardwood cuttings are mature wood and the stems or shoots do not have leaves when they are taken.
Make the cuttings about 3 inches long using the stem-tips. Cut the bottom of the cutting just below a node (joint) with a very sharp knife. Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting. Dip the bottom end of the cutting in a rooting hormone powder (shake off the excess powder) or gel, and insert immediately into the rooting medium so as not to let the cuttings wilt. Use vermiculite, a sand and peat mixture, or a commercially prepared rooting medium to root the cuttings. Water the cuttings in well and keep the media moist thereafter - never soggy wet. Place each cutting in its own little pot or tray, as gardenia's resent having their roots disturbed. Once they have rooted, they can be transplanted into proper soil by taking them out of the little pot, media and all, so as not to disturb the roots.
These cuttings generally root in 6 - 8 weeks, provided the air is kept humid around them, and they are given bottom heat (media) of 68 - 77 degrees F. (Cuttings have usually rooted when new growth is noticed at the tips, or when they resist a very gentle tugging). To keep them close (humid) and the media warm, they can be placed in a clear plastic bag and the container set on top of a refrigerator, for example.
Sanitation is a very important factor when trying to root cuttings. To start with, hands should be clean, tools should be sterile (dip them in a water and bleach solution), the rooting media must be sterile (such as using vermiculite as a rooting medium), and the containers should be new, or at least clean and sterile. The plastic bag should be removed from the cuttings for a short while at least every two days or so, to replace stale air with fresh air. Any decaying or moldy leaves should be removed immediately to prevent the spread of disease (Gray Mold) to other cuttings. If mold becomes a problem, treat the cuttings with a dusting of sulphur or other fungicide, and give the cuttings more ventilation (poking a few holes in the plastic bag.
Over all, the secret to success is in providing the cuttings with good media aeration, a warm, humid environment and a warm rooting medium. Cuttings do not always strike (take root), but this is no reason to give up. In time, and with practice, one learns when to take the cuttings and when the wood is at the proper ripeness for easy rooting. Its like anything else, practice makes perfect. Best of luck!