How to Make Money Growing Rooted Cuttings and Selling them Wholesale

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Once you know how to effectively propagate landscape plants, you will soon have more rooted cuttings than you can use. At that time you can decide whether or not you should quit growing cuttings, since you have all you need, or maybe you like to sell some of your cuttings to a wholesale grower.

Let’s discuss how easy it is to start a business selling lining out stock. That’s what nurseryman call the little plants that they buy to plant out in the field or in containers. Lining out stock, or liners for short.

“Nurseryman buy plants?” You might be asking.

Yes they do. Nurseryman probably buy more plants than any other group of people in the country. Why would they buy them if they know how to grow them?

Because sometimes they can’t grow them fast enough to keep up with the demand. Or maybe they would like to grow a certain variety of plant, but can’t grow it themselves because they don’t have any place to get several thousand cuttings. So what they do is buy in rooted cuttings, plant them in the field or in containers, and then they either grow them on to sell, or they grow them on and just keep them around a year or two longer so they can take cuttings from them.

Then once they have a supply of their own plants they can sell the ones they bought in, that are now landscape size. Does this make sense?

Let’s say that Mary the nursery owner buys 1,000 Variegated Weigela rooted cuttings @ 50¢ each. She plants them in the field in the early spring and they take off growing like crazy. That summer she goes out and takes 3 cuttings from each plant (They need pruning away, right?).

She sticks those 3,000 cuttings under intermittent mist and in about 5 weeks she has 3,000 rooted cuttings that she can plant out that fall, and she does just that. The following summer she can get about 6,000 cuttings from the original 1000 plants that she bought, plus another 9,000 cuttings from the 3,000 she planted out last fall. That’s a total of 12,000 cuttings.

She continues to plant her rooted cuttings out in the field and keeps taking cuttings from them until she has all she wants to grow. From then on she can take as many cuttings as she needs from the plants that she has in the field. By now the original 1,000 plants that she bought @ 50¢ each are large enough to dig and sell, and they are worth $10.00 to $15.00 each wholesale. That’s $8,000 from a $500. investment, plus she can produce as many variegated weigela as she wants without buying any more cuttings.

Does it really happen this way. Yes it does. I was recently talking to a friend who grows and sells all kinds of plants and he told me that he has been buying Dwarf Alberta Spruce cuttings and growing them on and selling them. He doesn’t even root any himself, he just buys 5,000 every year, pots them up and sells them wholesale. How many other nurseryman across the country do you suppose do that?

To get started you can either buy a stock plant or two, or buy several hundred cuttings of the variety that you would like to sell. Instead of planting them out in the field, I would plant them in beds. Make each bed 4’ wide so you can reach the center to weed and take cuttings, and place the plants in the bed 10” apart.

As long as you keep taking cuttings the plants will remain fairly small, and compact. Then after a two or three years dig them up, put them in pots and sell them. By then you will have thousands more coming on that you can take cuttings from. Start out slow until you know what there is a market for.

Of course if you are subscriber to my Backyard Nursery Newsletter then as you know I let you know what is in short supply. You’ll have to use some weed control measures if you are growing in beds, but that’s all covered in my report “How to Start Your Own Backyard Nursery on 1/20 Acre or Less”. In the report I also cover how to sell the rooted cuttings.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, and sign up for his
excellent gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, “Easy Plant Propagation”

What You Need To Start A Plant Propagation Business Part 2

The second item needed to start a plant propagation business is plants.

Not just any plants, but the exact plants you will be taking your cuttings from. At this point you need to decide which business you are actually in. Are you making cuttings and growing plants to sell to your friends, neighbors and relatives? If so, you will be in the retail nursery business.

Are you going to sell the rooted cuttings or liners to other nurseries? Then you will be in the wholesale nursery business.

Regardless of which business model you choose, you need to start off on the right foot. Simple retail selling of plants is the simplest of the two business models, but the wholesale model is where you can make the most money. Let’s go over both types of businesses so you can decide which is best for you.

ATTENTION: If you think you may at some point sell any plants , cuttings, or plant material to another nursery, you must begin with the wholesale nursery model!

Selling to the public-Retail

If you decide you are going to sell to the public only and never sell to another nursery, you have chosen the easiest of the two business models. When selling to the public only, you do not need to be as concerned with the exact plant material you are taking cuttings from. As long as the plant you are taking the cuttings from are not patented you can take cuttings. If the plant has a trademarked name, you CANNOT sell the plant using that name, but must sell it as a species only. For instance, if you propagate Burning Bush CHICAGO FIRE, you cannot sell it as CHICAGO FIRE, but you can only sell it as Burning Bush sp. (species). Trademarks are names that the discoverer of the new plant has designated for that plant and has registered for that particular plant. Usually it is a name that describes the plant so it is distinguished from other plant of the same species.

Patented plants are a whole different ballgame. Never propagate a patented plant unless you have a written agreement with the patent holder. If you do propagate a patented plant, you will be liable for royalties that propagators pay for the privilege to propagate and sell the plant. If you are found to be propagating patented plants without the proper paperwork, you will still have to pay the royalties and possibly fined for propagating the plants without them. My advice: stay away from the patented plants.

So now that you know that just about any non-patented plant is fair game, you can start to purchase plants to propagate.

Selling to the Nursery industry-Wholesale

If you have decided to sell to the nursery trade, you need to be more selective with which plants to purchase and propagate. Unless you have a written contract to propagate patented plants or to sell trademarked plants by name, you must choose plants that are free to propagate. These are the plants that have been around for a long time and have no restrictions associated with them. Examples are Burning Bush, Goldmound Spirea, Gold Drop Potentilla, and others. You must be absolutely sure to choose the correct plants right from the start. If you sell to another nursery or plant propagation facility, YOU are responsible for assuring them that the plant you sold is one that can be freely propagated. If you sell them a plant that is patented and they get caught, guess who they will be filing a lawsuit against? YOU! Start of on the right foot and choose only plants that can be freely propagated.

Now that that is out of the way, we can talk about stock plants.

Basically, a stock plant is a plant that you take cuttings from. It will be planted in your landscape just for that purpose. Once you purchase a stock plant, you can take cuttings from it and never purchase another one again! You can have one, two, three, or a hundred stock plants to get cuttings from. Only you can decide how many you will need to have to supply you with enough cuttings to root.

Now that you have a basic understanding of which business model you may want to choose and what a stock plant is, I recommend visiting for even more information on propagating plants to sell and find out which plants you can freely propagate.

How To Calculate How Many Misting Nozzles Can Be Used Per Misting Zone

How to get an estimate of how many misting nozzles per zone you can use.

To get a good understanding of how many mist nozzles you can use per zone with your mist system, you have to do a little groundwork first. This is not a 100% accurate method, but will work for you to get an estimate of the number of nozzles you can use. This method assumes you are connecting your misting system to an outside spigot, are using schedule 40 pvc water piping, and will be operating only one zone at a time. If you plan on operating two misting zones at one time, complete these steps and divide the number of misting nozzles by 2 to get an idea on how many misting nozzles per zone you can use.

First you need to determine your water pressure, your flow rate at the spigot you will attach your system to, and lastly determine the size of the pipes that are delivering the water to your misting nozzles. When figuring the flow rate, stick with one unit of measure throughout the entire process. If you choose gallons per minute, use the gallons per minute number for all calculations.

How to figure out your water pressure.

You must first gather the components needed to build a simple pressure gauge that will attach to your spigot. See the following picture to see the one I made and to get an idea as to what components will be needed and how to assemble it. I purchased a hose adapter that attaches directly to the spigot and has 1/2 ips female threads on the other end. I then purchased a 100 psi gauge that had 1/8 ips male threads. I then had to purchase two more reducing fittings to adapt the gauge to the garden hose adapter. Be sure to use pipe thread sealant on all threads when assembling the components.

Parts needed

Assembled pressure gauge

Pressure gauge in use

To get the water pressure at the spigot you must first be sure everything that uses water in your home is turned off. Dishwashers, clothes washer, faucets, etc. all need to be off. Install your new pressure gauge on your outside spigot. Next, turn the water on at the spigot and note the pressure reading. Gather pressure readings throughout the day and write them down. We will be using the lowest pressure reading you took. The ideal water pressure for your misting system will be between 30-50 psi. Lowers pressure will not deliver enough water to your misting nozzles and may result in poor performance. Too high water pressure will result in stress on all your components and may cause failures of solenoids or misting nozzles. Booster pumps can be used for pressures that are too low and pressure regulators can be used for high water pressures.

How to figure out your water flow rate.

NOTE:While gathering the flow rates, You should calculate everything as gallons per minute (GPM). To convert gallons per hour (GPH) into gallons per minute (GPM) simply divide the number by 60.

The flow rate is the ultimate determining factor on how many misting nozzles you can use per zone. The amount of water that can flow through your water pipes at any given time is called the flow rate, and is usually given as gallons per minute(GPM) or gallons per hour(GPH). Larger pipes can allow more water to pass through them than smaller pipes, and most homes have a mixture of large and small pipes, so an accurate test at the spigot is needed. You need to determine how much water can pass through your outside spigot that will be supplying the water to your misting system. Each misting nozzle is designed to deliver a given amount of water and you need to determine how much water your spigot can supply to determine how many mist nozzles can be used.

Find a bucket that will hold at least one gallon of water. Add one gallon of water to the bucket. The best way to get an accurate gallon is to use a milk jug or similar container, fill it and transfer the water to the bucket. On the inside of the bucket, place a mark at the one gallon mark. Dump out the water and hold the bucket below your outside spigot. You will be opening the spigot all the way and timing how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the gallon mark. Divide the number of seconds into 60. This is your flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM). If you figured gallons per hour (GPH), divide your number by 60 to convert it to GPM. Write these flow numbers down.

On average, a 3/4-inch hose can deliver 23 gallons of water per minute, while a 5/8-inch hose allows 17 gallons per minute. Determine your hose size and write down your garden hose flow.

Next, take a good look at your water delivery piping for your misting system, and use the piping size chart to determine it’s flow rate.

Pipe Material
Maximum Flow Rate (GPM)
Schedule 40 PVC (white)
4 (240 GPH)
8 (480 GPH)
13 (780 GPH)
Pipe Size

Find the pipe size and flow rate for your water pipe.
Write down the flow rate

Now that we have a bunch of numbers written down, here is how we are going to use them to determine how many misting nozzles we can use per zone on our misting system:

Compare the flows of your spigot GPM, your garden hose GPM, and water piping GPM for your misting system. Choose the lowest of the numbers. This is the maximum flow in gallons per minute(GPM)of your misting system and we can now use this number to determine how many misting nozzles can be used per misting zone.

Find the flow rate of your misting nozzles. If you are using Dramm nozzles, consult this mist nozzle chart. If you are using misting nozzles from a different manufacturer, you will need to reference the literature that came with the nozzles, do a Google search for the info, or call the manufacturer for the flow rate. Using the chart, find the flow rate of the mist nozzle you are using. Note that the charts give the flow in gallons per minute (GPM). If your nozzle flow is given in GPH, convert it to GPM by dividing the number by 60.

Take the lowest flow number of your system that you determined earlier and divide it by the flow of a single misting nozzle. This resulting number is the maximum number of misting nozzles you can use per zone.

Here is a quick calculation to help show how it is done:

Pressure: 40 psi

Flow rate at spigot: 10 GPM (600 GPH)

Hose flow rate: 5/8= 17 GPM (1020 GPH)

Water piping flow rate: 3/4 PVC=8 GPM (480 GPH)

Remember to convert all GPH figures to GPM!

The pressure is within tolerance so you do not have to do anything.

Of all the flow rates, the piping is the lowest at 8 GPM, so that is the figure you need to use.

Referring to the nozzle charts, you find that the Green Pin Perfect misting nozzles flows 1.08 GPM at 36 psi.

Now, divide 1.08 into 8 to get 7.4. So this means that you can safely use 8 (I rounded up) misting nozzles per zone as long as you only operate one zone at a time.

So looking at these figures, if you wanted to increase the number of misting nozzles your mist system can use, you could simply increase the water piping of the misting system to 1″, and you could then increase the number of nozzles per zone to 10 because the spigot now has the lowest flow rate of 10 GPM, which equals roughly 10 nozzles per zone.

Remember, this is a basic calculation and is to be used to get an estimate of how many nozzles can safely be used given your water flow rate. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but be sure not to make permanent changes until you are absolutely sure of the outcome. You may find that you can use more nozzles than this calculation suggests, or in some cases, you may need to use less.

How (And Why) To Move Water Away From Your Misting Beds

True story: a few days after I built my first misting beds it rained for two days, and we received about an inch of rain. I went out to look at my beds to see how they fared. They looked great! I had used very course sand for my rooting media because it was very inexpensive and drains extremely well, and my property slopes down to a pond. I walked around the beds and decided to step in to see how soggy the sand was. Dumb move! I sunk up to my knees!

I had built the beds by digging and removing the sod so the grass would not grow up into the sand. When I did that, I created a small bathtub where the water collected. Because the sand could not drain, it turned to something that resembled quicksand. How was I going to fix this, I asked myself.

Because the beds were higher than the pond I knew the water would flow in that direction if I could get the bathtub I had created to drain. I had to move the water 75 feet across my lawn to the pond and knew it would not be easy. My lawn is peppered with rock ranging from fist sized to some that are larger than a microwave! No easy digging, especially if I was to use the round perforated pipe that most people use.

I took a trip to Home Depot and found a product that is used to drain water away from foundations. It is plastic honeycomb wrapped with a fabric that allows water to pass through it. It is about 6″ wide and 1″ thick, and came in 50′ rolls. I purchased two rolls and then decided on a plan. I would take my landscapers spade and jam it in the earth, wiggle it back and forth to create a slot about an inch wide. I did this and created a small ditch from under my mist beds to the pond. I then placed the drainage material into the ditch and covered it over with soil. By the time I was done and had everything run to the pond, the sand was completely drained and I could stand on it!

That drainage material works so good I have used it in two other locations on the lawn that had natural springs bubbling even during the driest periods of summer. The two areas were so bad that every time I tried to mow the grass over them I would sink up to the axles and mud would be sprayed everywhere ! Now that the drainage is installed, I can mow those areas directly after a storm.

The moral of the story is to plan on moving the water away from your misting beds BEFORE you discover you need to. Simply place either perforated pipe or the cloth covered drainage material I mentioned under your sand to carry the water away. Even if you have to cut a hole in the wood of your bed to dump the water onto the surrounding lawn it is better than your sand being saturated.

What You Need To Start A Plant Propagation Business Part 1

This article is a first in a series that will explain what you will need to start your own plant propagation business.

The first item you will need when starting your propagation business is knowledge.

You need to have a basic understanding of which plants will grow in your zone, how to care for them, and the best method for propagating it. Without this basic knowledge, you will have a tough time keeping your plants alive.

So where does someone get this knowledge? Surfing the net, books, newsletters, PDFs, you name it, the knowledge is everywhere. And that is the problem! Gathering this information can be very time consuming. On top of that, if the information has been written by someone who does not have real world experience growing and propagating the plant, you may be learning the wrong methods. You really don’t want to be starting off gathering the wrong information.

One of the best resources for plant propagation info is obviously Amazon. For instance, Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses
is one of the absolute best books you can buy and I recently saw  34 used copies for  $33.00 each. That is a great savings over the price of a new copy!

Another great book is Hartmann and Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices (7th Edition). Used copies were $25 less than the new ones when I last looked!

Look for more books or other propagation items at Amazon by using the search box below or by using the suggestions provided on the right sidebar. Start building your library and knowledge today!

How about free information about plant propagation?

My motto is “If it is free, it is for me!” and I live by it every day. There are some wonderful websites and newsletters devoted to plant propagation. One of the best newsletters I have found is at As well as the free newsletter, there are some great articles right at the website that you can learn a lot from.

Another great way of gaining knowledge for free is through PDFs and other reports that have been written by plant propagators. For instance, DipNGrow has a nice free PDF available. DipNGrow is a rooting hormone that is widely used by professional plant propagators with great results. DipNGrow is a concentrated liquid that you dilute depending on the type of cutting you are rooting. Simply dilute it to the concentration you need. Saves a ton of waste!

I have personally collected hundreds of PDFs on plant propagation, misting systems, nursery management, pests and diseases of plants, growing fruits and berries, as well as how to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If you want to access them, become a member! It is free and you get access to all the PDFs I have gathered to increase my knowledge about running a plant propagation business. As well as the PDFs, I have a list of websites I go to when I need to gather information on various plant related subjects.

In part 2 I will talk about what stock plants are.

Tips for Preparing a Planting Bed

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If you are preparing beds for landscaping around your house this article should simplify the process for you. I say that because of everything that is written about this subject, some of it is accurate, some of it is just plain wrong, and much of it is much more complicated than it needs to be. I like to think of myself as simple Simon. I find the easiest, yet most effective way to do things, and they work.

Let’s assume that the area where you are planning your bed is now planted in grass. How do you get rid of the grass? Chemicals or no chemicals? Chemicals are easy, so we’ll look at the chemical method first.

My favorite chemical for killing grass and weeds is RoundUp, and used properly it is effective. Rule number one: Read the label on the package, and mix the chemical exactly as recommended by the manufacture. Rule number two: Assume that every plant that the RoundUp touches is going to die. It is a non-selective herbicide.

The first thing you need to do is mark out where your planting bed is going to be. Spend some time on this step. If you are landscaping around your house, give careful consideration to what is going to be planted in the bed, and then decide how large each plant is going to be when fully mature. You can keep plants trimmed to a certain size, but be realistic when you make these estimates. Trust me when I tell you, this is the number one mistake made by Do-it-yourself landscapers. People are just afraid to make those beds large enough.

Typically, a bed should never be narrower than 42”, and corner beds should be 12’ in diameter. Islands. If you make those little tiny island beds that I see everywhere I am going to come over to your house and snap you with a wet towel! The island bed in your front yard should be 20’ to 40’ long, and a minimum of 12’ in diameter on at least one end. The easiest way to mark out your planting beds is to buy a can of marking paint at the hardware store. Unlike most spray paint, this only works when the can is inverted, and it is designed specifically for painting lines on the ground. They even have cans that spray chalk instead of paint. I’ve always used the paint, it holds up better if it gets wet.

Once you have the outline of the bed established and marked, mix up some RoundUp and spray all the grass and weeds inside the bed area. Do not put RoundUp in a sprayer that you intend to use for other purposes. You need a sprayer that is dedicated for the use of herbicides. When applying the spray, be very careful not to let the spray drift onto the grass and other plants that you do not want to kill.

To minimize spray drift, adjust the spray nozzle so the spray pattern is narrow and the droplets are larger. A wide, fine spray pattern is sure to drift outside of the intended area. Also keep the pressure in the sprayer quite low. Pump it just enough to deliver the spray. High pressure causes the spray to atomize and drift. Apply just enough spray to wet the foliage. If you have liquid dripping off the blades of grass, you are applying too much. More is not better.

Once sprayed, be careful not to step in the area that has been sprayed. Many a people have had golden foot prints across their lawn because they forgot and walked through what had been sprayed.

This is the difficult part, and the part that many people do not get, so pay close attention. The only way that the RoundUp can possibly work, is if you leave it alone. Did you get that? Once you apply the RoundUp, don’t do another thing with that bed for 72 hours. That’s three very long days. I know you’re anxious, but this is the price you pay for not planning ahead.

RoundUp is a systemic herbicide, which means that it has to be absorbed by the plant, then trans located throughout the plant. It takes three days for that to happen. If you go digging and chopping, you might just as well skip the spraying step. Go build a compost bin while you’re waiting.

After three days the weeds and grass are going to look as healthy and happy as ever. Don’t let em fool ya. They’re as dead as dead can be. Providing the RoundUp didn’t get washed off by rain within the first 24 hours of the waiting period. Now you can dig and chop to your heart’s content.

However, the only digging that I do is to go around the edge of the bed and strip the sod back about 15”. Just peel off about 1” and flip it into the center of the bed. This makes it easier to edge and mulch the bed if you get the sod out of the way. Now for the non chemical method.

Mark out the outline of the bed as described above. Strip the sod back 15”, just like above. Since you aren’t using any herbicides I would dig down about 1-1/2” when removing the sod from the edges. Take the sod you stripped back and lay it in the center of the bed upside down and pack it down firmly. Now take newspaper or brown paper grocery bags and cover the entire bed area. Use 9 layers of newspaper. No matter what method you used, chemical or non chemical, you are now ready to fill the planting bed with topsoil.

Put 8 to 12” of good rich topsoil in the bed. Make sure the soil is higher in the back, closest to the wall, so the water drains away from the building. If you are creating an island planting make the center of the bed the highest point. Make sure the topsoil you buy is well drained and rich in organic matter. Buying topsoil is a tricky game, you’ve got to be careful and shop around. Topsoil is one item that you do not want to order over the phone, sight unseen.

This is what you are looking for when buying topsoil:

Topsoil that is rich in organic matter will be very dark in color. If the soil is light in color it is probably just fill sand. The other thing you’ve got to watch for is how well drained the soil is. Topsoil that has a clay base is poorly drained and sticky, and your plants will not be happy at all. They might even die if they are too wet. Once a clay based topsoil dries out it gets very hard.

Today most topsoil is run through a screener to remove the clumps, rocks, roots, and sticks. There is nothing wrong with buying unscreened topsoil, especially if you’ve visually inspected it, and have found it to be of good quality. Actually, really good topsoil shouldn’t have to be screened, but there is little of that quality topsoil to be had.

When you visit the yard where the soil is stock piled, scoop up a handful of the topsoil and run it through your fingers. If it seems to be grainy, it is probably good soil. But if it appears to tiny round balls, that can be smashed between your fingers, it is probably a clay based soil that will trap water during rainy seasons, and get as hard as a rock when it’s hot and dry.

Pay attention to how the soil is screened. Some machines just shake the soil over a set of screens to separate the debris, and others actually shred the soil. If the soil needs to be shredded, you don’t want it. Look closely at the pile that the raw soil is coming from. If the soil in the raw pile is as hard as a rock, that’s what the screened soil is going be once you get it in your beds. If it appears to be fairly loose, it’s probably good soil.

Put 6-8” of topsoil in your beds. You are now ready to plant. Did you notice that I didn’t get into rototilling and all kinds of extra work. Nor did I suggest that you add bone meal or any of those other goodies that the garden centers sell. I skipped the part about checking the Ph too. Ph is important, but I’ve found that good topsoil almost always has a suitable ph.

I’ve got a confession to make. In almost 30 years of growing, planting, landscaping and the like, I’ve never tested the ph of the soil on any project that I was working on. Is that smart? I don’t know, but I’ve been successful in my efforts, and I have landscaped several hundred homes and grown tens of thousands of plants.

It’s something to think about. What I’m really trying to say is don’t get caught up in too many details, and be careful who you take advice from at those garden stores. Many of those sales people were flipping burgers last week.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, and sign up for his
excellent gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, “Easy Plant Propagation”

Using A Misting System to Root Softwood Cuttings-Factors To Consider Part 2

Other factors that come into play with mist propagation.

When a misting timer is programmed, it will follow the program until the propagator makes a change or some other device tells the system to operate differently. These devices can include an electronic leaf (which I don’t recommend in most cases) or a rain and freeze sensor (also not needed in most cases).

Electronic leaf

Electronic leaves run well over $200 and are not really a requirement when rooting cuttings. They theoretically control the misting cycle by the rate of evaporation which can vary with any change in weather. The leaf gets wired into your misting system so when it is activated it cuts off the electrical signal to the misting solenoid valve.

Electronic leaves like the Mist-A-Matic have an arm that pivots. On one end is a screen that sticks up in the air that water collects on during the misting cycle. When enough water has collected on this screen, the arm pivots downward. The other end of the arm then comes in contact with a small switch that will interrupt the electrical signal to the solenoid. When water evaporates off the leaf, it again raises and allows the electrical signal to operate the solenoid. The theory behind the electronic leaf is for it to simulate an actual leaf and the rate of evaporation.

While many propagators have had great success with electronic leaves, others have run into disasters. Something as simple as a bug or bird dropping will keep the leaf in the downward position, stopping ALL moisture from getting to the cuttings. Unless this is immediately noticed, the cuttings will surely die. Read this PDF for pictures and more drawbacks to using an electronic leaf.

Rain and freeze sensors

Rain sensors and freeze sensors can also be wired into a misting system to interrupt the flow of moisture to the cuttings. The theory behind a rain sensor is to stop the solenoid valve from opening during wet weather. Unless your cuttings are being rooted in a greenhouse or hoophouse (more on why you don’t need one of those later…), your misting system does not need to run during a rain event. The rain is keeping the cuttings moist and there is no need to waste water. The rain sensor has a small cup with a plunger inside. When this plunger gets wet it gets pushed downward and contacts a switch that interrupts the electrical signal to the solenoid valve. When the rain stops and the plunger rises, electricity can now get to the solenoid. One drawback to the rain sensor is if a bird dropping gets into the cup and keeps the plunger down, but the cup is so small the likelihood of that is slim.

Freeze sensors work in a similar fashion except they disconnect the power to the misting solenoid when the temp falls to around 37° F. When the sensor detects the temperature at or below the target, it interrupts the signal to the solenoid.


If you do decide to use either a Mist-A-Matic type electronic leaf to control your mist or a rain/freeze sensor to keep it from misting during wet or cold weather, be sure you check your systems operation often. Something as simple as a bird dropping on the leaf or a stuck plunger in the sensor could wipe out the entire crop of cuttings very quickly under the right  circumstances.

Using A Misting System To Root Softwood Cuttings-Factors To Consider Part 1

Why use a misting system?

Rooting cuttings is actually quite easy when using a misting system. Prior to misting systems, nursery owners and plant propagators had to use other methods such as wooden boxes with glass or plastic covers over them. These covers kept the cuttings in a moist environment which allowed them to root. A few drawbacks to this method is the length of time and possibility of creating the right conditions for diseases and fungus.

Intermittent mist allows the propagator more control over the conditions the cuttings are in. The frequency and duration of the mist can be controlled to allow the cutting to get the correct amount of moisture to keep them hydrated and cool. Hydration and temperature control around the cutting are vital to the cuttings ability to form roots.

Keeping the cuttings hydrated is essential to successfully root softwood cuttings. The moisture that is deposited on the cuttings leaves and rooting medium allows the cutting to live without roots. The moisture is drawn up into the cutting through the stem where it supplies the plant with moisture. Too much water in the rooting medium can cause the stems to rot and a misting system is a great way to control the amount of moisture in the rooting medium.

Another thing the moisture that is deposited on a cutting does is to keep the cutting cool. Plants go through a process called transpiration. This transpiration process is quite similar to our perspiring because it allows the plant to release water through its leaves which cools the plant off. This transpiration process is what actually draws the water up the cuttings stem and incorrect amount of water on and around the cutting can greatly affect the process.

How a misting system controls the environment around a softwood cutting.

A misting system controls the environment two ways.

  • It controls the amount of mist the cuttings receive.
  • It controls how often the cuttings receive the mist.

The amount of mist a cutting receives is called the duration. This duration can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the environment and conditions the cuttings are being rooted in. Typically the duration would be between 6 and 14 seconds when rooting woody ornamentals.

How often the cuttings receive mist is called the frequency. This frequency can be between 2 to 10 minutes, again, depending on the specifics of the rooting environment. Typically the frequency would be 5 or 10 minutes for woody ornamentals.

Properly setting up the misting system to deliver the correct amount of moisture to the cuttings ensures they are in an environment that is suitable for rooting.

Part 2 will address other factors to consider when rooting softwood cuttings.

DipNGrow Rooting Hormone FAQ download

Here is a handy PDF from the makers of Dip N Grow. It contains some of the most often asked question and answers about DipNGrow.

If you are interested in more PDFs on plant propagation, consider becoming a member. Membership is free and you gain access to hundreds of PDFs I have collected about plant propagation.

Dip ‘N Grow Liquid Rooting Concentrate – 16 Ounce

Mike McGroarty Is a Fraud

Yes, you read that right; Mike McGroarty and his backyard grower system is a fraud.Dwayne Haskell and Mike McGroarty

Not my words, but the words of others. Cruising message boards that deal with gardening and plant propagation, I often see folks who say something along those lines. Mike Mcgroarty is a fraud, Mike Mcgroarty is a scam artist, Mike Mcgroarty’s is a ripoff, and a few other things.

Well, I am here to personally let you know that I am extremely happy with Mike McGroarty and his products. I mean, really, who gives away as much information on plant propagation, working with landscape plants, and other topics? Go ahead and check out his website and see what he offers. Sign up for the free newsletter and get ready to learn a ton about gardening and plants in general. Then, scroll way down to the bottom of the page and click on the sitemap link and check out all the free information he gives away. Along with all those articles, he has many more on different websites, on article submission websites, and I have even seen them in a trade magazine I get. Does that look like something a fraud would do? No, I didn’t think so.

Go ahead and check out his website right now!