Propagation Using Intermittent Mist to Root Your Cuttings

Plant propagation has never been easier! Intermittent mist is the greatest invention to hit the wholesale nursery industry in years.

If you are not interested in starting a Backyard Nursery and are just interested in plant propagation at home for your own uses, then you really need to check out my Simple, Homemade Plant Propagation System. (Click here.)

Intermittent mist is used primarily for the propagation of softwood and semi-softwood cuttings of both deciduous plants and evergreens. Although, some nurseries use it on the hardwood cuttings that they make over the winter and then set out in the spring.

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Plant propagation using intermittent mist is truly remarkable, cuttings root in just a matter of weeks. There is some cost involved in setting up an intermittent mist system and my Backyard Growing System does include a video that shows you step by step how to build your own intermittent mist system. In the video you will learn exactly what components to buy, and where to get them.

Intermittent mist is like hiring a full time nanny for your softwood cuttings. An intermittent mist system automatically applies a very small amount of water every few minutes, all day long, until your cuttings are rooted.

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Even though intermittent mist is off and on through out the day, the actual amount of water used is quite low. The water nozzles are very small, allowing only a minimum amount of water to pass through. When the water is on, the duration of spray is only about seven seconds.

Once the sun goes down the mist system can be turned off until the next morning. I actually have two timers on my mist system. One to control the cycle during the daylight hours, and the second timer is a 24 hour timer I use to turn the system off and on each morning and evening, automatically.

The intermittent mist system you use should be completely adjustable. You should be able to adjust how often your cuttings are watered, and the duration, or the length of time the spray of water stays on. The nozzles used for the actual spray should be quite fine. But if the nozzles are too fine, the mist gets carried away by the wind and your cuttings can die the same day you stick them.

In my video on how to build an intermittent mist system I tell you exactly which nozzles work the best, and where to get them. They are a specialized nozzle and difficult to find. Right on the cover of the video I list the suppliers that sell all of the components you need to build your own system. I also show you in detail how to make the cuttings, how to prepare them, and how often to water them using intermittent mist.

I don't sell this video by itself. It is part of a large package and is only available to those who purchase my Backyard Growing System.

When you first take your softwood cuttings and stick them in the bed of course sand, it is a good idea to water them quite frequently for the first few days until they harden off. After four or five days you can water them less often, but still quite frequently.

When I first start sticking my softwood cuttings around the first week of June the cuttings are very soft and delicate, so delicate that I only make a small amount of cuttings and immediately get them under the mist.

I set my intermittent mist system to water the cuttings more frequently for the first few days. Then after a period of four or five days I change the settings so the cuttings are not watered as often. Over watering is very easy to do with intermittent mist and you have to be very careful or you will lose your cuttings. Under watering is just as bad if not worse.

In my videos I tell you exactly what timing intervals I use and why, as well as when to start and stop the intermittent mist each day.

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Plant propagation using intermittent mist sounds much more complicated than it really is. However, it does require an investment in equipment and the proper controls. Once you own the equipment you can produce thousands and thousands of "Free" landscape plants each year. Intermittent mist is fun because the cuttings root so quickly. Some plants will start showing roots in about two weeks.

I love plant propagation with intermittent mist. It amazes me. It is so easy, it is almost like magic. You stick the cuttings in the sand, turn on the mist system and walk away. Some plants root so quickly under intermittent mist that when you come back to check on them in a couple of weeks you can’t even pull a cutting out of the sand because it has developed so many roots that it is firmly anchored in the bed of sand.

All you have to worry about is a power failure. If for some reason the electricity supply to your home is temporarily interrupted, you should keep the cuttings watered by hand until the power is restored. Of course this is only a problem during the daylight hours. If it happens to be an overcast day and there is no direct sunlight on the cuttings they won’t need much water. On the other hand if it is a hot sunny day, watering is extremely important.

When you take cuttings and prepare them for propagation under intermittent mist, follow the exact same procedures described in the page on softwood cuttings. This website is loaded with plant propagation tips and strategies. There are different plant propagation techniques for different plants, and different techniques for different times of the year.

This page, Plant Propagation, the Basics will help you find the correct strategy for the plant you are propagating, as well as the correct technique for the time of year you are doing it.

In northeast Ohio we start our first softwood cuttings around June 1st. If you’re in an area further south, you might be able to get started a little earlier.

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Another advantage of intermittent mist plant propagation is if you experience failure with certain cuttings, you can try another batch two or three weeks later. You don’t have to wait months to know whether or not you were successful.

The new growth on a landscape plant matures so quickly that a matter of just a few days can make all the difference in the world. One day the cuttings might be too soft to survive, but a few days later the wood will have hardened off to the point that they will do just fine. If you stick some cuttings on June 1st and they are too soft and wilt down immediately, just a few days later the new growth of the very same plant may have hardened off enough to yield cuttings that will do quite well.

Plant propagation is often hit and miss. Everything we know about plant propagation has been learned through trial and error. The problem is that the people who know all the answers are tight lipped. The professional propagators in the nursery business spend eight hours a day, fifty two weeks a year, making baby landscape plants, millions and millions of plants. They constantly try new ideas, some of them work and some don’t, but just like any other professional in any other industry, they don’t give away their trade secrets.

Some times it’s really funny. I know dozens of people in the nursery business in this area. Many of them are friends. Some are more than willing to share their knowledge, but you won’t believe how secretive some of them can be when I ask them how to do something. They just clam up and look at me like I’m from Mars. They're probably afraid that I'll post their secret techniques on my website so visitors from all over the world can learn how to grow plants for free.

Intermittent mist was developed primarily to aid in the propagation of softwood cuttings, but I use my mist system from early June through October. In mid September and early October I am still making cuttings and placing them under the mist. As the season progresses and the cuttings require less water, I adjust the system accordingly.

By the middle of October I have the system adjusted down to a minimum cycle that only waters my cuttings for a short period of time each day. As the days get shorter I adjust the system to come on later and go off earlier. I just keep reducing the hours of operation until the system is only on 3-4 hours each day.

I made some Rheingold Arborvitae cuttings in mid September last year, and by the time I was closing my nursery up for the winter those cuttings were completely rooted. This was at a time of the year when it is usually too late for softwood cuttings and too early for hardwood cuttings, but by taking advantage of the heat of the sun, and using intermittent mist to keep the cuttings watered lightly, I was able to achieve terrific success.

Plant propagation has never been this easy!

Building an intermittent mist system at home for your Backyard Nursery is very easy, and you will be dumb founded and amazed at how easy plant propagation is when you use intermittent mist.

Questions? I do my best to answer all questions on my blog...