Many of our oldest gardening methods, such because the pruning, bending and shaping of crops, are actually about manipulating their inside chemistry, by way of hormones, to steer them to vary their pure behaviour. However what if as a substitute of this elaborate and unsure coaxing, we may simply get a vial of those miraculous, growth-regulating compounds and apply them straight wherever it was wanted? Consider it as hacking plant biology to free us as much as do issues that might usually be botanically inconceivable.
Keiki paste is a wondrous substance that does precisely that. Combined into its thick, lanolin base is a cocktail of pure botanical compounds that promote cell division in crops. Little vials could be purchased actually fairly moderately on-line, so you can begin tinkering as quickly as they arrive. The most typical use for it’s in cloning orchid crops which, since they’ll’t be produced by way of cuttings, is a complete gamechanger.
On a moth orchid, phalaenopsis, for instance, merely scrape away the skinny, inexperienced sheaths that cowl dormant buds on their mature flower stems with tweezers or a toothpick and dab on a tiny quantity of the paste with a cotton swab. Inside two to eight weeks, a child plant (known as a keiki from the Hawaiian phrase for child) will begin to develop on the stem. As soon as its roots and leaves attain 5cm, this little clone could be snipped off and potted up by itself.
The identical approach works on the dormant buds of African violet (Saintpaulia) flower stems, permitting excellent clones to be made of surprising, unstable mutations (like variegation) that usually pop up in these crops, which could not come true from cuttings.
Place a tiny quantity of the paste on the central whorl of a uncommon begonia leaf and a child will pop up proper there, with out the chance of eradicating leaves to make cuttings or damaging plant well being. Do you may have a kind of crazy-expensive variegated aroids like monstera or philodendron, or carnivorous crops like nepenthes that you just need to make an ideal copy of? Add some keiki paste to one of many dormant nodes – as shut as potential to development stage – and watch it come to life.
The bud-wakening energy of keiki paste isn’t nearly propagation. Add some to buds on bonsai bushes to encourage development in a selected course, to the lateral buds on the stems of leggy crops to make them bushier, even on the unfurling buds of recent orchid stems previous to flowering to encourage these to department out into sprays, thus providing you with masses extra flowers.
One of the best bit? These are simply the experiments I’ve achieved to date – there are lots of of potential functions. On some issues it really works whereas on some issues it doesn’t, however that’s all a part of the enjoyable. It’s an ideal mission if you’re up for enjoying mad scientist this weekend in your lounge.
Comply with James on Twitter @Botanygeek