Evaluation of aeroponic and subirrigation systems for improved propagation of plants by stem cuttings

Many plants for horticulture are propagated by stem cuttings collected during the active growing season, which are typically rooted in a greenhouse under intermittent mist.  Mist prevents the cuttings from drying out and overheating before they develop their own roots.  Although mist is common in the industry, it does have disadvantages that could negatively impact propagation of some difficult-to-root species.  We will evaluate the performance of several alternative systems for propagation from cuttings, including sub-irrigation, subsurface fog, and subsurface mist.  These systems have potential advantages over the industry standard, but have been largely untested for commercial applications.  The horticulture industry of Maine will benefit from new information on alternative methods for propagation of difficult-to-root species.  The ability to propagate additional plant taxa potentially generates increased revenue through the production of new and interesting varieties for the industry.  The horticulture industry in Maine comprises more than one thousand firms, with a combined gross income exceeding $250 million annually.  Many of these firms are engaged in plant propagation and production, which determines the availability of profitable plant material for the horticulture industry and fuels sales revenue.

Investigators: Bryan Peterson, Stephanie Burnett