Ananas comosus, Micropropagation

Yesterday me and Kady (Curatorial scholar) visited the Palestine Polytechnic University. Dr Rami Arafeh gave us a tour of the micropropagation lab. If you are interested in trying micropropagation, here is a link to a protocol. Rami was kind enough to give us a jar of Ananas comosus which he had propagated. Photos below show the growing room and the A. comosus being transplanted.

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Philodendron erubescens ‘Red Emerald’, Cuttings

Philodendrons propagate easily with vegative methods.Cuttings were taken from Philodendron erubescens ‘Red Emerald’ three weeks ago. They have all rooted through. Today they were potted on. 

P. ‘Red Emerald’ has brilliant red stems and petioles. It’s a vigorous trailing or climbing plant. The cuttings were move into six litre pots because of this species vigour. The pots will be full in a month. Photos below.

Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum, Seedlings

I got some seeds of  Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum from Le Jardin Naturel. Based on Reunion Island, Le Jardin Natural stock a wide range of arid species seed. I’ve bought from them a few times and have always been very pleased.

I purchased six Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum seeds. They were soaked for 24 hours then sown. After four weeks, five have germinated and the last is almost through.

This variety has a brilliant form. It’s much shorter than the species reaching only 2.5m. The trunk branches at the top displaying multiple plumes of foliage. A planting of these will look great in the conservatory arid section. Below is a photo of my seedlings and a sample picture from the Le Jardin Naturel website.

Vanilla planifolia 

Vanilla planifolia is an epiphytic vine in the Orchidaceae family. It is native to Central America and Northern South America, found growing in wet tropical forests or margins. This species is the main source of vanilla, it also has attractive yellow flowers.
V. planifolia is easy to cultivate. It enjoys a moist but well drained medium such are large woodchips. It should be grown in a well lit space out of direct sunlight, temperatures should not drop below 10 degrees Celsius.
This species roots freely from cuttings. They can be rooted just in water. I took cuttings four weeks ago, I chose a free draining coir based medium to root mine. The photos below show root development after four weeks and repotting. Shoot growth should initiate over the next week or two.

Agathis robusta, Softwood Cuttings 

Conifers can be difficult to propagate vegetatively. Even if they root freely, it tends to take a while. In the glasshouse there is an old specimen of Agathis robusta, but it’s in poor condition. The trees main stem was cut down to around 40cm, the plant is just a stump with some young shoots.
This plant is unlikely to form a new leader and grow into a strong tree. Because of this it would be good to propagate it. The fresh growth lends itself well to cuttings, so today some were taken. All the cuttings are tips for maximum rooting potential. Cuttings are four nodes long, dipped in rooting hormone, potted nine per 11cm pot. Photos below.


Agathis robusta is a large (50m) evergreen conifer. Agathis is a genus in the Auricariaceae family, British readers will know Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle tree) as it is a commonly cultivated family member. A. robusta grows in Queensland and has two known populations, its uncommon in cultivation. Hopefully the cuttings take as this is a great species to have. Probably more use in the Tropical Australia section than the glasshouse though. A full sized tree below.


Not my image, link to creator.

Callisia fragrans, Cuttings 

Sometimes the common plants are the best. Many gardeners turn their noses up at certain species they “see everywhere”. The upside of seeing something everywhere is it indicates it’s easy to grow. Callisia fragrans is one of those plants.
C. fragrans is a fleshy herbaceous plant in the Commelinaceae family. Though endemic to Mexico it is common in cultivation. C. fragrans has been used as a houseplant in Europe since the early 1900’s. The foliage is very attractive and it grows well in shade. 
Propagation is easy, cut a stem below a node, strip the foliage and insert the stem into a moist medium. I took cuttings three weeks ago and they have already filled their containers. Plants like this will make excellent ground covers in the conservatory. Photos below.

Factsheet 
Material: Semi-succulent 
Action: Cuttings 
Treatment: None
Medium: 1:1:1 Coir:Perlite:Vermiculite 

Factsheet 
Material: Plants
Action: Transplanting 
Treatment: None
Medium: 8:5:2:2 Coir:Perlite:Tufa:Vermiculite + osmocote

Pavonia cauliflora, Semi-ripe Basal Cuttings 

Today I repotted some cuttings from Pavonia cauliflora. The name of this species is disputed. The JBG has it labelled as Gothea cauliflora, whilst plantlist shows this name as unresolved. The accepted name on plantlist is Pavonia cauliflora, so that is what I will use.
P. cauliflora is pretty rare, it’s range covers only a small part of Brazil. It’s a good shrub too. This species has large evergreen leaves and cup shaped red flowers which emerge from the stems. It grows happily in heavy shade, I’ve now moved it into 3/4 day sun and it’s still thriving. A very versatile plant.
Obviously being so useful P. cauliflora had to be propagated. Our plant is very small and only had a few stems. I managed to take four cuttings a month ago. I potted three of them on today into 11cm pots, one failed to root. The root systems aren’t hugely developed but I want the plants growing with nutrients as soon a possible. Shown below.

Factsheet 

Material: Plants

Action: Transplanting 

Treatment: None

Medium: 8:5:2:2 Coir:Perlite:Tufa:Vermiculite + osmocote 

Irrigation: Handwater, once daily
The cuttings I took are described as “basal cuttings”. The cuttings are taken in much the same way as a regular semi-ripe cutting. The key difference is only nodes adjoining stems and shoots are severed. At this point the shoot should have a collar like bulge. Instead of cutting above as you would when pruning, the cut is made lower than the collar. This severs the lower node and provides a large surface area for rooting. To further increase rooting area I wounded the stems, though looking at the point of root formation it seemed to make no difference. Cuttings shown below.

Factsheet 

Material: Semi-ripe

Action: Basal Cuttings

Treatment: Rotting hormone 

Medium: 1:1:1 Coir:Perlite:Vermiculite 

Irrigation: Handwater, once daily
The mother plant has produced fresh growth so more cuttings can be taken soon. The cuttings transplanted today should have filled the 11cm pots in four weeks. Hopefully they will be just about filling up 3L pots, come planting time. 

Coffea liberica, Cuttings 

The tropical glasshouse planting is designed to create a natural display. The aim is to produce a planting similar in style to the planting at the Eden Project (on a smaller scale of course). To achieve this plants must come in a variety of sizes. The plants then look more like they are spreading naturally by seeding around.
With some species of small trees and shrubs we already have several sizes. Cuttings will be taken from these species to bulk up groups and provide another generation of “seedlings”. This process begun today with Coffea liberica.
The method is standard for semi ripe material. Cuttings of 3+ nodes, clean cuts next to nodes, leaves trimmed, dipped in rooting hormone, inserted into pots. These cuttings should strike easily, this is not a difficult species. Photos below.


C. liberica is native to Western and Central Africa. The coffee is more bitter than that of C. arabica so, though cultivated, only accounts for 1% of world production. C. liberica can also grow taller, plants reach up to 20m compared to max heights of 12m in C. arabica.
The cuttings will now go into a shady, cooled propagation chamber, with good air circulation. Once rooted they will be potted into 5cm cups and placed in a well lit space. Though C. liberica will scorch in direct midday sun, plenty of light is required for fast growth.

Factsheet 
Material: Semi-ripe

Action: Cuttings 

Treatment: Rooting hormone

Medium: 1:1:1 Coir:Vermiculite:Perlite

Irrigation: Manual, mist three times daily

Amorphophallus titanum… Sadly Not!

During the initial stages of my work in the glasshouse I found a dormant, six litre pot, labelled as Amorphophallus sp. I was pretty excited about it and set it aside for monitoring. Amorphophallus is such a cool genus. Everyone knows A. titanum, sporting the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. A. titanum is a regularly advertised attraction at Botanic Gardens worldwide, at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh A. titanum has its own twitter account. 
My favourite species has to be A. paeoniifolius. Cultivated as a food crop in Africa and South Asia. This species forms corms weighing up to 8kg, within a year. The inflorescence is much smaller than that of A. titanum, but still manages to reach 80cm high. The foliage is an impressive sight too, rising up to two metres. The stems have the fantastic blotchy patterns often attributed to the genus. I hope to get some seeds soon.


The image above is not mine, link to the owner.

When shoots finally emerged I quickly realised this isn’t Amorphophallus at all, the plant is in fact Typhonium venosum. Though the growth of T. venosum does look similar to that of Amorphophallus sp. the leaf shape is distinctive. T. venosum is common in cultivation and the plant matched an entry in the records, its now labelled with its accession.
The pot contained a rotten central corm with a few larger offsets shooting, surrounding these were around 20 small corms. I repotted the small corms into 5cm pots and the large corms into 11cm, all foliage was removed. They grew well and today I moved them back in six litre pots, though now we have four. I put a larger corm in the centre then four small ones surrounding, five per pot. Again almost all foliage was removed. I expect nice strong clumps in a few weeks, the small corms have already made a huge amount of growth.

T. venosum stems shown above.

A small T. venosum corm, above.

Potted small corm after six weeks, above.


A finished six litre pot today, above.

Factsheet 

Material: Plants

Action: Transplanting 

Treatment: None

Medium: 8:5:2:2 Coir:Perlite:Tufa:Vermiculite + osmocote 

Irrigation: Drippers, 2L daily

Molineria capitulata, Division

As I’m moving the last plants out of the glasshouse I’m bringing out some I haven’t dealt with yet. One I brought out today was Molineria capitulata. This species is an evergreen tropical perennial with impressive, metre long, Palm like leaves. Native to Asia, Indonesia and Australia I’m thinking it would grow outside in Jerusalem.
With the work to improve the Tropical Australian section of the garden, M. capitulata could be perfect. It may defoliate in a cold winter but should provide impressive foliage for most of the growing season. It would combine well with a different texture, maybe something like Alocasia brisbanensis. I took some divisions today and may take more as the plants bulk up.
Divisions are easy to take. M. capitulata produces a large number of rhizomatous shoots. These can easily be removed with a shoot tip and root. Today I did exactly that, the mother plant should produce more shoots in a few weeks. Photos below.


Factsheet 
Material: Plants
Action: Division 
Treatment: None
Medium: 8:5:2:2 Coir:Perlite:Tufa:Vermiculite + osmocote 
Irrigation: Handwater, once daily