This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
At a late meeting of the London Horticultural Society, a Mr.. Fleming produced some cuttings 6f vines, which, in five days, had formed roots as much as three inches long, and which had been prepared by a new process. The usual methods of multiplying the vines are by layers, or cuttings, or eyes, each having so limited an application, that much time must elapse before any considerable number of plants of a new variety can be propagated. The method pursued by Mr. Fleming, is to take advantage of the laterals (which every vine may be forced to produce in abundance), to separate those laterals close to the old wood as soon as they have three or four leaves, and to strike them in silver sand in the usual way.
If a vine, says an informant, is so closely covered with glass that the air around it is always saturated with humidity, and if it is then exposed to the sun (the air being always warm) it breaks in the usual way; but, in a few days, each shoot will produce a lateral from the bottom of every leaf; these laterals, after growing to a certain length, will themselves break into fresh laterals, and so growth goes on. Thus, a vine in such a situation, having fifty eyes, will form fifty new shoots; these shoots, after a time, will break into at least ten laterals, and each lateral may be expected to produce half a dozen other laterals of a second order. This being so, a single vine with fifty eves, may be compelled to produce materials for three thousand new plants, instead of its power of multiplication being limited to the original fifty eyes, as is the case under ordinary eireumstances.
The process is in most respects similar to that practised in Messrs. Weeks' nursery, where vines of the old and new varieties are grown extensively, and Mr. Gruneberg, one of the partners, has introduced a plan by which the new varieties are increased with great rapidity, as follows: As soon as they have pushed a shoot a foot or fifteen inches long, it is cut back to near the base, and the top is made into cuttings, every one of which strikes, and thus a great many plants of any particular kind are obtained in one season. The chief point is, to take care to start them sufficiently early to get the young wood strong and well ripened by the autumn.
In both cases, yoang, green wood is employed; but in the last mentioned place, a shoot is itself divided into cuttings, each having at least a couple of eyes; and there the operation ends. So that, while in the case above supposed there is a possibility of getting three thousand cuttings in a season by the use of laterals, we could hardly expect more than three hundred by merely dividing the first strong shoots into cuttings. We know not whether these methods are absolutely new; probably not, for they are such as theory would certainly suggest if brought to bear upon the subject But they are so far novel, that they have not been generally employed by gardeners.
' We say that they are such as theory would suggest. Nothing is more certain than that the greater and more active the vitality of a cutting, the more freely will it become a new individual by the emission of roots. It is equally certain that vitality is most active in the young shoots of plants, turgid with orgunizabta matter, and abounding in nitrogenous principles. Therefore it is a general axiom in theory, that a young cutting will strike more quickly than an old one; that green wood will root more readily than ripe wood. Propagation by the eyes of the vine is indeed, in some degree, an evidence of this fact But ripe or half-ripe wood, though least active and charged in the smallest degree with organizable and nitrogenous matters, is usually peferred, and for the following reason: It is indispensable that some time should elapse between planting a cutting; and its emission of roots, daring which time its vitality must be maintained by artificial means. In many plants this is an operation so difficnlt or uncertain, that vitality departs before roots can come, and thus the catting dies. Wherefore nearly ripe or fully ripe wood is often preferred, because its vitality, although comparatively low, is more easily supported in the absence of roots than if it were younger and more active.
Whether or not, therefore, it is desirable to use green, half-ripe, or felly ripe wood for propagation, can only be determined experimentally. In many cases it has been thus determined, and we find one year old wood used for some things, two year old wood for others (as oaks and beeches when grafted), while in some cases the quite green wood is universally employed; to which latter class the vine may be now referred.
But is this a good mode of propagating the vine as well as an easy? That is to say, will the young plants obtained from green wood be as healthy as if from ripe wood? We understand that the vines obtained by Mr. Fleming's process are weakly the first year, but become strong and healthy in the second, if allowed to break in a cool house. Probably he has never pushed the process to its extreme limits by availing himself of the third generation of laterals. Let us, however, suppose he did; would the consequences be injurious. We cannot but think that they might be; for the laterals-of the third generation, though active enough at first, would be likely to indicate symptoms of inherent, and possibly incurable, debility, as has occurred to the dahlia in cases of the over multiplication of that plant.
This is certain, that if vines are multiplied by the method above described, and are strnck comparatively late in the season, it will be more difficnlt for them to ripen their wood than when coming from eyes in the usual way. This is, however, mere speculation, and we should be glad to hear that our anticipations are unfounded.