By: Leo Whaley, Consulting Rosarian
Last June I started a project of rooting mini roses by various phases of the moon. Several interesting things came out of this experiment and I will discuss this more later. The experiment started June 2nd with getting 12 cuttings from various plants. The moon was just past full (May 30th). Knowing it would take at least 6 weeks to complete the experiment, I needed to use the same variety of rose for each phase of the moon. The 12 cuttings were placed in a solution of Triforine to kill any fungi that might be present. Each cutting was then dipped in Dip-n-Gro at 1:15 strength and placed in a 1 cubic inch piece of oasis that had been soaked in water. This was then placed in a 4 inch pot with Fafard 3-S potting mixture and soaked thoroughly. Then each of the 12 plants was covered with a clear plastic bottle with the bottom removed and the top screwed on tight. These were then placed in a shady spot behind the barn for observation. For reference purposes the first planting will be called group #1.
The second planting (group #2) was started June 9th, when the moon was in the last quarter and was done in the same way as group #1, even using the same variety of Minis. Group #1 seemed to be progressing normally at this time.
The third planting (group #3) was started June 16th with the moon in the new moon phase. This was the important phase as it is the ideal time to start new plants according to current folklore. Again the same variety as group #1 and group #2 was used. The screw top of the bottles of group #1 were loosened. Things didn’t look great as some had already died. I knew that the bottles should be left on the plants until new growth is evident and at this point no new growth was evident.
The fourth and final planting (group #4) was done June 23rd with the moon in the 1st quarter phase which is prior to a full moon. This phase is the second choice for starting new plants. Again, the same variety was planted and the same technique used as in all other cases. The bottle caps were loosened on group #2 and no exceptional activity was observed. Group #1 was still not showing any new growth, so the caps of the bottles were removed which is the customary procedure, but the bottle was left on the plant.
The fifth week was the beginning of evaluation. The bottle tops were loosened on group #3; the plants looked better than previous groups. The plants of group #1 were not showing anything; most of the stems were dead and at this point appeared to be a total loss. Group #2 was showing some progress and the caps were removed to allow air to get to the plants.
The sixth week the caps were loosened on group #4 and these plants looked fairly good at this point. The caps of the bottles of group #3 were removed. Ten plants in this case were showing promise. Group #2 showed 5 plants with evidence of new growth.
Group #1 was declared a total loss and the bottles and bodies were disposed of. The seventh week the caps were removed on group #4 and 7 of these plants looked like they would make it. On group #2, I removed the bottles as 5 plants appeared to be alive and well. Group #3 looked better with 9 plants still alive.
The eighth week, group #2 still showed the 5 plants progressing. The bottles were removed on group #3 with all 9 plants alive. Group #4 was progressing with 6 of the 7 still alive. In the ninth week, I removed all the remaining bottles on group #4 which had 6 survivors.
- Group #1 New Moon Of the 12 plants started in the New Moon phase, no plants lived.
- Group #2 Last Quarter Plants started in the last quarter produced 5 bushes
- Group #3 New Moon Plants started in the new moon produced 9 bushes
- Group #4 First Quarter Plants started in the first quarter produced 6 bushes
The results of this experiment indicate to me that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is correct in that the best time to start new plants is after a new moon and during the 1st quarter. I must also say that this result is only one phase. For the results to be authentic the test should be done at least three more times. At that stage this rosarian decided that he had better get a life or he would be put in a home.
Being the experimenter that I am, I decided to try something else in rooting miniatures. I repeated the above experiment following a new moon, but used another approach. I started 48 plants in August, 3 days past the new moon using the same technique as the other groups with one exception — I did not put the bottles over the plants. Having noted that many of the plants under the bottles developed a mold on them, I felt that they were too wet even though I had not watered the plants. I also felt that leaving the bottles off might give more air circulation to keep them dryer. I did, however, water these plants every other day in addition to the rains. The results of the experiment without the bottles produced 40 plants that have gone on to grow in the gardens of friends and relatives. Having done all of this, I have been removed from assisted living and can now have visitors!
This was an Award of Merit article from 2001
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