2023-08-08: Cloning Blue Arrow Junipers

A few months ago I cloned (rooted) some grape vine cuttings for my mom. One of her vines hadn’t made it through the winter so I went out and collected ten cuttings, scraped their ends, dipped them in rooting hormones, and suspended them in a dark fogging chamber to root. After many weeks they eventually began to sprout roots (some sadly didn’t and began to mold, which I removed from the chamber as soon as I saw) and eventually were transplanted to the garden to replace the dead vine.

The grape vine cuttings with some leaves and a few tiny roots beginning to form. 2023-05-15

Now, we are working on landscaping around the property, adding some privacy using various plants and we came across an issue. At least for the moment you can’t seem to source blue arrow junipers anywhere. We already had ten from last year started but we were planning on being able to get more this year to finish filling in some areas. When I heard we couldn’t order them I mentioned maybe I could try cloning them like I did with the grape cuttings. A few weeks later (well yesterday and today) I began setting up for this.

Last night I prepared a bowl of water and adjusted its pH to as close to 5.5 as I could get it. My pH meter seems to be broken so I had to use the test tube and indicator solution to get it close enough. Once that was handled I added ten cubes of rockwool and let them soak overnight. I had read it was important to put them in slightly acidic water to offset their alkalinity and provide the cuttings a more suitable environment to develop new roots. So hopefully my mostly blind efforts towards this were accomplished.

This morning I drained the rockwool, shook the excess water from them and put them into the germination tray. After referencing chatGPT a little while about the general procedure of selecting branches to cut and how to prepare them (largely unnecessary set this time because it ended up being the same process as the grape cuttings) just in case there was some peculiarity about junipers I should know about before diving in, well, I dove in.

I took ten cuttings, one from each of our plants. I was encouraged to select from new growth and that the cuttings needed to only be 6 inches tall. But mine are all approximately double that. I really wanted to ensure my cuttings had an obvious branch in them to ensure I was maximizing the chances I would be selecting good branches to attempt to root, and do it consistently in case of failure or success so I can adjust incrementally on future attempts.

Anyhow once selected I brought them inside and scraped the last half inch or so of the stems to expose their cambium then I dipped them in the rooting hormone, tapped away some of the excess, and pushed them into their cubes in the tray.

Blue Arrow Juniper cuttings in the germination tray.

Once all ten were “planted” I opened up a large kitchen trash bag and carefully set them in the bottom. I sprayed some water all around the insides of the bag and on the junipers and then mostly closed the top of the bag and blew air into it until it was inflated. At that point I twisted the top shut and clipped it with a bag clip.

Humidity tent next to old fogging chamber (black/yellow tote) I used on the grape cuttings.

Now they’re sitting on top of a germinating heating mat on my dresser in their little humidity tent. I will open it up periodically to change the air and hopefully reduce the changes of mold forming while still maximizing the changes the cuttings will successfully form roots. I’ll post updates about this over time.

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