Ways to Manage Moisture During Cuttings Propagation

Moisture-in-Cuttings propagation

Providing too much moisture during unrooted vegetative cutting propagation often results in waterlogged propagation substrates. Photos by W. Garrett Owen, MSU Extension.

During propagation, unrooted cuttings require water to prevent desiccation (death) and for processes such as photosynthesis, which influence root development and growth. Propagators must minimize transpiration (leaf water loss) until root formation and development occurs and cuttings have the ability to replace lost water.


In a report posted on Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s website, MSU Greenhouse and Floriculture Outreach Specialist W. Garrett Owen notes that from stick to root development, propagators sometimes use too little water or moisture, but most often provide too much water. This leads to leaching and waterlogged propagation substrates, uneven rooting, and loss of cuttings due to rot or botrytis. In order to produce high-quality rooted cuttings, Owen propagators must manage moisture in the propagation environment along with light, temperature, and nutrition.

Providing proper moisture management after cuttings are placed in the propagation environment may be challenging because of crop diversity and differing moisture requirements among species and rates of root development, Owen says. Certain crops require more mist to remain turgid, especially in the first few days of propagation. Other crops need to be kept drier. Group these crops together to make life easier during propagation.

Click here to read Owen’s full article.