Quite a few of our readers have been in touch and asked for some information about how to build a simple mist system for raising cuttings.
I have to say if you plan to raise your own cuttings perhaps for your own little nursery venture you can increase your chances of success twenty fold by installing some form of mist system.
Essentially what you’re trying to do is create a moist atmosphere around the cuttings to stop them expiring through the leaves and ultimately drying out and dying.
A mist system doesn’t have to cost the earth and can be as simple as fitting a misting head on the end of a regular hose … but If you want a system that requires a little less management from you you’re going to need:
- A hose to deliver the water to the cuttings. I use commercial black polyethylene pipe which you can buy from any good wholesale garden supplier.
- Mist nozzles and rods – how many is dependent on the size of your cutting area. I think every two feet is about right, but of course that depends on the spread of the nozzle.
- A Timer to regulate the flow of water. I bought mine on eBay for £15 and is powered by a couple of small 9 volt batteries. There are a few on the market but look out for one that has adjustments for both duration and frequency. Also make sure it has an override option in case you need to attach a second hose.
Although you will have to invest some cash while you set up, look at it as an investment in the future. Anyway, when you hold your first plant sale you’ll recoup the investment many times over!
Choosing a timer
There are some pretty fancy timers on the market but for our small venture I thought we’d start small . The one in the picture was bought on EBay for £15. It’s done well and it’s just finished its second year and still works just fine. Just remember to remove the battery’s at the end of the season or you’ll come back to leaking or corroding battery’s.
They operate on fairly simple principle. There is a dial for adjusting the hourly rate, and a dial for adjusting the length of time the water will flow.
I set mine to come on every hour for 1 minute, at least until the cuttings are showing signs of growth. When the cuttings are showing obvious signs of growth I adjust the timer to come on every two hours for a minute and finally every three hours. I have a second timer on the outside tap at the house set up to shut the water supply off at the end of each day. (No point in spraying the cuttings after sunset)
As soon as the cuttings are growing away I stop misting altogether and water from a regular watering can.
Setting up your mist system
Measure how much hose you need to reach your cuttings and add another couple of feet for spare. Plug a stopper at one end of the hose and fix the other end to the timer.
Fitting the mist rods
You can buy mist rods from most good garden wholesalers.This is a close up of where the rods fix to the hose.
The nozzles have a sharp end which you push into the hose until they can’t go in any further. If you use heavy duty black hose you’ll need to break the surface with a nail or sharp object. Just don’t be too heavy handed or you won’t get a decent seal.
The mist head is usually sold with the upright and fits onto the mist rod.
In the picture below you’ll notice I’ve added a split hose connector to the timer. This is because we only have a single tap in the nursery so on occasions we need to divert the supply to a second hose for the polytunnel. You can also see where the black hose is fixed to the connector with a small jubilee clip to produce a good water tight seal.
The nozzles we use are fairly flexible and can fly all over the place if you don’t fix them down in some way. Easiest thing to do is fix a length of timber in the ground or to the side of your cutting box and tie the mist rod to the timber. Looks a bit rough and ready … but it does the job just fine.
This isn’t a great picture but you can just about see the hose and mist rods on the front of the cutting bench. I’ve fixed the hose to the bench using 15mm plastic pipe connectors.
If you’re planning on installing your own mist set up I would definitely recommend growing your cuttings in sharp sand to ensure good drainage. I use a basic box construction filled with builders sharp sand and nothing else.
These are some of my cuttings from earlier this year and I have to say pretty much all of them have grown into good size plants which is why I’m such a great advocate of growing softwood cuttings under mist.
John is planning to produce a short video explaining step by step how you can build your own basic mist system so don’t worry if any of this doesn’t make complete sense as it may be better explained in a video.
I hope you found this useful and if you have any questions about setting up your own mist system do feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to help if we can.