Q:

What is the artificial propagation of plants?

A:

Artificial propagation of plants refers to any botanical reproductive technique that does not occur in nature. The Virginia Cooperative Extension states that common methods of artificial plant propagation include stem cutting, leaf cutting, tissue culturing and several layering techniques. The most effective strategy depends on the given plant, its environment and the desired number of new plants.

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According to botanist and author Ross Koning from Plant Physiology Information, leaf cutting is the preferred artificial propagation method for African violets and jade plants. This technique involves carefully excising a leaf and gently burying it in moist soil. Some botanists prefer to place the leaf in clean water. In both cases, the donor leaf requires daily sunshine or exposure to indoor growing lights.

The closest relative of leaf cutting is the stem cutting technique. Ross Koning explains that this method produces new growth more rapidly than leaf cutting. He recommends applying powdered root hormone to the lower end of the donor stem before covering it with topsoil.

Tissue culturing is the most effective mass propagation method. Cutting and layering are reliable but slow, and each new plant requires plenty of individual attention. According to Ross Koning, this is impractical when cultivating hundreds or thousands of new plants.

The first steps of tissue culturing are cutting tissue from the donor plant, immersing it in bleach and rinsing it with water. This kills the top layer of surface cells and renders the tissue sterile. After sterilization, the donor tissue is placed in a sealed container filled with a solution of distilled water, sugar and minerals. Powerful shaking breaks down the sample tissue into tiny pieces that are each capable of forming a new plant once planted in moist soil.

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