Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Grow a plant from a leaf: Jade Clones

Angela's celebrating a birthday today- first with a couple of online classes to teach, then who knows? Along with some chic pieces for a full outfit, she only asked for some Osmacote feed for her tiny trees. Believe it or not, she only has a few dollars put into her entire jade collection. There are two very cool ways Jade plants can propagate: plant a cutting, or simply put a leaf onto some soil where it can root. (In fact, when left in the dark with a small container of water, the leaves will spring 'air roots' to try to reach the water they sense- in about four weeks! ! Angela points out, the grower wasn't sure the water mattered, though; are Jade plant roots hydro-trophic?))

So, let's take you from the first leaves she tried in spring, to Her Majesty and Your Highness, who reside together in the tin tea box.

So, leaves…
She flips open her plant diary, complete with diagrams of pots with earlier configurations of leaves, over the summer. She flips through the July entries to find the first time she had one take root.

“There were some that kept going missing- in my Artemesia bonsai- I’m thinking the lizards who play on our front porch took those. Then there were some others I threw in random pots, in May- no attention to them, of any kind, and I didn’t spritz them, so they burned.”
“But, onto, like July 19th:
I filled up some plastic pots with the soil mixture. I put three in one pot, then eight in the biggest pot.
C: What was that soil mixture like?

A: “My succulent soil mixture- it’s universal. One-part sand, one-part good-drainage soil, and one part, Perlite.”
“So, some of those leaves died, and some of those, rooted. But the first time I saw roots, I believe, was after vacation- around August twenty-second or so. I think one of them is the leaf we’re calling Her Majesty. They had to have been growing already, for me to see them.”

C: Your Highness is a cutting; I believe I cured the tip, I guess you’d say, with cinnamon and honey. It took very well, until a mishap with fertilizer. That’s when we learned you must wet the soil before you apply any properly-mixed plant food. Even in its correct dilution, the food can burn up the roots, unless the intake point is moist. That plant’s had a rougher time, in the three or four weeks since.

Angela hopes to bring over a thriving leaf, so its roots might graft with those of the cutting. The leaves can, themselves, support the growth of a new plant! With a patient eye and, best, a magnifying glass, you can see its embryonic form, sprouting from the same node as the root!

Seeing the first leaves came in September, she says,
“On the eleventh, I put the leaf into a new pot, but I hadn’t noted the red tips. The red tips foretell new leaves- I didn’t know that, yet.”
“There we go: on the seventeenth! ‘The one in the fairy pot has leaves unfolding.’
So, basically, two months. “It took about a month to notice roots, and another month, to notice leaves.”
Here on October second, we’ve uncovered a leaf that did not want to turn loose, readily. She respectfully dug around the soil with her chopstick, keeping the roots intact. I offered a plastic cap to cradle it. Look at this fragile wonder.

Angela carefully dug out the adjacent area for her grafting. She prepared a space for the long root, which was virtually a root ball. It was more than four centimeters, "pretty decent- it had gone onto the side of the pot, then gone down," she says.
She spritzed the soil again, afterwards, "just to settle it into its new home." This one will definitely stay inside for now, as the heat's still blistering enough to raise watermelons, here in North Georgia. We keep it by the window, where it receives ambient light, and a little booster UV from the phlorescent bulb.