Propagating red alder + biochar

Lots of things have been happening here, but I’ve just lacked the energy to stay on top of posting. These cuttings are my first attempt to get back into it.

My neighbor has a very large red alder (alnus rubrum) which tends to spread far and wide. I need to clean out a few large branches, and I wanted to try my hand at propagating it. I cut several branches, roughly 2″ diameter, 15′ long, and kept a few for. I only kept the tip growth that:

  • Didn’t have any catkin formations (reproductive parts)
  • Didn’t fork at the tip
  • Softwood growth that was straight

Given this criteria I still had quite a lot of stock to work with, so I decided to use a quick method and go with the slit trench approach.

Preparation wise, I’ve done a ~15min soak in water dissolved with dip’n’grow liquid (NAA), some cinnamon powder (antifungal), and IBA powder.

I also cut the tip off, which is usual practice to reduce the concentration of root inhibiting Auxin. Alder have large, serrated leaves but I didn’t bother trying to snip them for transpiration – I’m not really sure if there’s any scientific validity to it, as it it will also reduce photosynthesis, which directly provides nutrients for root formation. Additionally, I’ve kept most leaves on – often I hear people espouse the benefits of reducing foliage count, but again this is counter to providing nutrients for roots. In fact, this is also demonstrated in “The Reference manual for woody propagation“.

I’m also trying something new, which is to use biochar as an amendment to help revitalize and provide stimulation for root formation during vegetative propagation. This fascinating article is what inspired it. already add this to my garden, as it’s a wonderful and easy to make fertilizer. Unlike ash, it also increases the alkalinity of the soil, which helps since I use quite a lot of wood chips. It’s also basically sterile.

More updates on this experiment in perhaps a month or more, cheers!

3 thoughts on “Propagating red alder + biochar

  1. I’m interested in how you get on with this. I’d like to plant more alder (common alder) and it would be great to avoid having to buy more plants in – I pay so much for delivery.

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      1. Update! I only saw one or two still “alive”, but they’ve gone dormant. It hasn’t been particularly successful. Not very scientific, but I don’t think the biochar played a huge role either way. I think it deserves a new experiment though.

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