Q.Growing ilex cuttings
I have rooted two cuttings of ilex attenuate fosters #2 or longwood gold. I have them under t5 grow light and a warming mat beneath in a cool indoor room . I would like to know about fertilization , bottom heat, and misting so that these small 3 inch cuttings will survive . Also, at what age can they be planted outside.? I have read Dirr and several other articles which take you up to rooting but not really beyond. Thank you for any help. Joyce Grabar in Montgomery county pa.
I am sending photo of cuttings and my original holly from which they were taken
I am growing shrubs indoors (from seed) and have also found a lack of good growing information past rooting/germination. Ilex has both a taproot and strong lateral roots. Keeping it in the right size container is important. A small plant does not do well if plopped into a large container but you need something deep enough for the developing taproot. Using 12 oz. to 2 liter plastic beverage containers as pots allows you to see when it is time to upsize. When repotting, take the time to straighten encircling roots. This is crucial for longterm survival. I would use a balanced general fertilizer at 1/4 strength every second watering and slowly increase the amount as the plants grow. If your T5s are high output then the lights should be set at 6-8 inches above the leaves; regular T5s should be 2 inches above. Remove the heat mat; many shrubs and perennials grow better in cool soil. Run your fingers lightly over the cuttings at least daily to strengthen the trunks. A fan for several hours a day also helps build resistance to being blown around and lessens fungal disease risk. Set the fan to a gentle breeze. Because of the taproot, I would transplant them into the garden after you have hardened them off in spring and after danger of frost has passed. Provide temporary shade for 3 days, longer if they wilt in the sun. Don't fertilize for the first year; simply topdress with 2 inches of good compost. The plant needs to develop strong roots before starting upward growth. You have the option of setting them in outside pots and transplanting them in fall. Either way is going to require diligence on your part. You are doing greenhouse work without the greenhouse! One of the bigger risks, whether in-ground or in pots, will be bunnies and other browsers. While mature holly isn't high on their list of preferred plants, a very young plant will be tempting. Erect a barrier until the holly is at least 2 feet tall. Water weekly if rain is insufficient. Sandy soil requires twice weekly watering - more often in very hot weather. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/.../nellie-stevens-holly-care.htm