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.