Influence of cutting position, medium, hormone and season on rooting of bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) stem cuttings

05 Jun 2008

The objective of this investigation was to study the effect of cutting position, rooting medium and hormone on the rooting of bush tea stem cuttings. The experiment was carried out in four consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2003 at the Hatfield Experimental Farm of the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. The parameters recorded were cutting position (apical vs. basal), rooting medium (composted pine bark vs. sand), rooting hormone (with Seradix® No. 2 vs. no hormone), sampling days (15, 20, 25 and 30 days) and season (summer, autumn, winter and spring). Cutting position had a highly significant effect (P<0.001) on rooting and transplanting survival of bush tea with better rooting percentage, root length, root number and survival percentage from apical than from basal cuttings. Composted pine bark improved the number of roots developed but had no effect on rooting percentage, survival percentage nor on root length of the cuttings. The application of rooting hormone (Seradix® No. 2) during the propagation period increased root number and further increased shoot length after transplanting but not rooting percentage, survival percentage or root length. Season also showed highly significant differences (P<0.001) on rooting percentage, root number and root length. Rooting of cuttings was improved when propagated in autumn (longer roots) and spring (number of roots) but not in summer or winter. The results of this study suggest that vegetative propagation of bush tea could be achieved by apical cuttings propagated in composted pine bark with Seradix® No. 2 hormone in spring for 30 days since root number was the most important factor for the successful establishment of the cuttings.