Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms

This post, titled Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms, covers my experience with plant propagation. This article will discuss my experimentation with plant propagation in the summer of 2015. Plant propagation is a great way to save money by growing your own nursery stock for your Edible Forest Gardens.  I will cover both my successes and my failures. I will give a brief description of a plant propagation bed and how it works, but I’ll give the specifications and much more details on the system and how it works in another post.  I invite you to please comment and give me your thoughts as well as ask questions.

Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms Plant Propagation Bed

Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms

The plant propagation bed that I installed in the spring of 2015 consists of a 4-foot by 8-foot bed filled with sharp sand (kind of like beach sand). I have a Dramm Mist Head misting sprinkler system set up on it that is timed to go off every ten minutes.

In late June I took softwood cuttings (more on softwood in a future post) and put them in the propagation beds. As an experiment I went around my Pasadena, MD home and grabbed cuttings from anything I could. They were each dipped in rooting hormone. I planted each cutting 1-2 inches apart in rows going in the four-foot direction of the 4×8 bed. Each row was spaced 2 inches from the next. This allowed me to get 24-48 plants per row. I documented each cutting and the row it was in, the date planted and every few weeks I noted the progress of the plant.

Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms Plant Propagation Bed

Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens at Great Escape Farms

As I write this document in late September, I can tell you that I had great results with some plants, mixed results with others and complete failures with about 10 out of 47 varieties.

Most of the plants that are alive are still in the propagation bed and will be transplanted in the winter when they are dormant. I will keep many of them so I can take cuttings from them and sell them in the store in out years. I plan to give some away and maybe sell a few just to get the processes down in the store as far as a shopping cart and shipping procedures.  I need my department of agriculture license before I can give away or sell any plants.

I did transplant some of the cuttings in mid-August just to see how they transplanted to soil in the mid summer. Some plants did fine and others met their demise.

Below is a list of the plants and how well they faired with this exercise.

Plant name:                           Survival rate:

Elderberry – Adams             75%

Korean Bush Cherry             95%

Goumi Sweet Scarlet             95%

Goumi Sweet Scarlet             95%

Goji                                          100%

Aronia – Viking                      95%

Elderberry – Nova                75%

Black Berry                            10%

Autumn Olive #47                75%

Mulberry – Grafted               20% (rooted top of graft)

Nanking Cherry                     75%

Elderberry – Debbie’s          40%

Cherry – Van Semi Dwarf    0% – all dead

Raspberry – Heritage           0% – all dead

Blueberry – High Bush         5%

Rose of Sharon – Double Purple 95%

Grape #30                              10%

Butterfly Bush                       95%

Blueberry – Reka                  0% – all dead

Elderberry – American         50%

Dappled Willow                     20%

Grape – Concord                   10%

Blueberry – Blue Ray            0% – all dead

Elderberry – Johns               95%

Pomegranate – Wonderful  5%

Grape #33                              95%

Weigela – Red flower            95%

Blackberry – thornless         0% – all dead

Muscadine – Latefry             95%

Weigela – White Flower       50%

Big Apple Kousa Dogwood   5%

Hibiscus                                  95%

Muscadine – Ison                  95%

Aronia – Viking                      95%

Autumn Olive #75                5%

Nanking Cherry                     75%

Nanking Cherry                     75%

Crape Myrtle – Pink              95%

Rode Hedge                           95%

Holly Bush                              95%

Autumn Olive #101              0% (went 1 week without water)

Seaberry – Male                    20%

Seaberry – Female                30%

Fig – Black Mission                80%

Fig – #51                                 80%

Quince – Tx Scarlet               80%

Black Currant                        30%

As you can see my experimentation with plant propagation in the summer of 2015 yielded a learning experience and quite a few new plants for me to put in the ground, give away, or sell.  In a future post I will talk about how to build a plant propagation bed and how to get Dramm Mist Stix set up and working at the correct interval for you.

Many of these plants will be offered for sale at Great Escape Nursery in the future.

Thanks for visiting Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens.

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Please give us your feedback on Plant Propagation for Edible Forest Gardens by commenting below.


  • Debbie Swank says:

    Loved the bed, great propagation rate

  • […] readily by cuttings or seed. In my propagation bed this year I had about 95% success rate for the cuttings and this will be one of the first types of plants offered for sale in the nursery.  If you are […]

  • Andrea says:

    Hi: Love this website! Thank you for posting all your success’ and failures-it is all a learning curve! I would like to know why you start your cuttings in sand? Is it easier for root growth or is it sterile?
    I’ve had great success with concord grape cuttings in very damp peat moss in a glass jar and once I saw leaf buds beginning, transferred them out to my garden. They did well, 75% made it.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Todd McCree says:

      Hi Andrea, I use the sand so the water flows through easily without making it too moist. I only need sharp sand for the summer cuttings (softwood cuttings) that I spray a mist of water on every 10 minutes. If the plants were in Pete moss, the roots would rot with that much water. When doing winter cuttings (hardwood cuttings) you do not do all the misting and it is actually best to put it in potting soil, Pete moss or where you actually want it to grow. Hope that helps. Todd

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