Taken from a presentation by Ron Killian at the February 2009 Society Meeting
Ron prunes when the growth habit of a plant forces him to. For example, a Jeannie Moragne Plumeria is often a tall, single stalk. To demonstrate his techniques, Ron brought a Mary Nicholson Plumeria, a white that flowers all year. The plant he brought was getting too heavy on one side and would require extensive staking.
When talking cuttings, longer is better. Shorter cuttings have less energy and are therefore more difficult to root. Danny Kashou interjected that taking a cutting can encourage a plant to branch in an area where the tree hasn’t branched before if five to six inches are left on the plant. Ron stressed that people need to consider the time of year before cutting to stimulate branches. Early in the season, odds are better for the plant to branch; later in the year, the plant may not have enough energy.
Be sure not to create any recesses on the plants that will collect water. After making cuts, seal cuts with lime paste or DAP, available at home improvement stores. Bud Guillot uses plumeria blossoms to seal cuts, pressed firmly over the cut.
Then Ron demonstrated repotting on a Penang Peach. First, he turned the pot upside-down and removed the plant. He pulled all the soil off to expose the roots. At home, he would hose the roots with a fine, hard spray to wash all the soil off the roots. Ron uses scissors to root prune his plants. This removes any poor roots, spurs new growth, and allows him to keep a plant in the same size pot.
Then he placed the plant in the pot and filled the pot with well-draining soil, specifically Kellog’s garden soil.
Q&A with Ron
Q. Does Ron sterilize the blade between cuts?
A. Ron uses 91% alcohol to sterilize the blade between plants, not cuts. Ron asked if anyone’s plants had rust. One person had rust on a grafted plant from Florida. When he pulled off the leaves, the rust didn’t come back.
Q. When a cutting has no obvious root or tip end, how can you tell which way to plant it?
A. Plumeria only grow one way. The leaf scars smile when the plant is upright.
Q. What is the minimum length for a cutting?
A. The longer the better, but Ron likes a minimum of 14-15″.
Q. Does Ron seal his cuttings with Rootone?
A. When Ron uses Rootone to seal cuttings, he waits one week before planting. When he seals them with lime paste, he plants them the next day.
Q. How much is Ron taking off the roots?
A. Ron only takes the bad stuff off. When the tips are skinny and the leaf scars are close together, check the roots for damage and repot the plant.
Q. What if the bad roots are close to the base of the plant?
A. Spray away as much decayed stuff as possible. Add Rootone to the affected areas that can’t be removed. As a fungicide, Rootone generally stops problems.
Q. Does Ron add newspaper or coffee filters to the bottom of his pots?
A. No, Kellogg’s is a large-bodied soil.
Q. Where can you buy Kellogg’s garden soil?
A. Home Depot, in large 3.5 cubic foot bags.
Q. How often does Ron repot?
A. Every six weeks. Q. With the cuttings rooted in sleeves, how deep should they be planted once rooted?
A. Three to four inches at least in pot, enough to make the plant stable. Be careful not to crush the roots when planting.Q. Does Ron repot year-round?
A. Ron never stops. But he thinks plants do best in the ground and uses pots to root them.Q. How long can a cutting sit before you plant it?
A. Ron lets his cuttings without lime paste sit for ten days before planting them, but after that, they can go a long time, three months, before planting.
Q. When is a good time to prune?
A. For cuttings, after March 1st.
Q. Can you prune during dormancy?
A. If you must, seal the cuts very well, since the risk of freeze damage is bigger.
Q. When is the best time to transplant plants that are in the ground?
A. March, April, May–early in season, but past frost.