Tissue Culture

Plant tissue culture is a process by which plants can be rapidly propagated. The new plants contain the same genetic information as the original plant. Tissue culture is a type of vegetative propagation in which many new plants can be propagated in a short period of time.

Commercially, tissue culture is now utilized to produce Boston ferns, Rlwdo dendrons, orchids, Staghorn ferns, Chrysanthemums, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and many other plants. Although tissue culture of carnivorous plants is not done on a large scale yet, it is a potential means of satisfying a large portion of the demand for these plants which will reduce natural collection and hopefully in the future it will be a way to provide all the carnivores and eliminate field collection.

Today some Sarracenia, Cephalotus, Pinguicula, and Drosera are available in this form. In the future, hopefully all the genera will be propagated by this technique.

When you buy tissue-cultured carnivorous plants they will arrive in a test tube or vial with the plants growing in a special medium. The plants usually can remain in the test tube or vial for a few months, but it's best to remove them from their containers because the media will eventually dry out and/or become depleted of growth substances or the plants will outgrow the container. To transfer tissue-cultured plants from their very humid and disease-free environment to a natural one, your growing area, use the following procedure:

1. Remove the cap from the tube or vial.

2. After 4 or 5 days gently remove the plants and wash the agar, a jelly-like material, from the roots, using lukewarm water. During this step and the following steps it is very important that the plants are not allowed to dry out.

3. If plants are well developed with roots, then individual plants may be separated. If not, simply separate clusters of plants, or wait till roots develop to transfer.

4. Plant the plants or clusters of plants in pots filled with your soil mix. Make sure that all the roots, if any, are below soil levels.

5. Spray with a fungicide such as Benomyl to help prevent fungus infection.

6. Water the plants with a weak fertilizer solution made as follows:

a. k teaspoon (1.25 ml) of Miracid or RapidGro or other similar fertilizers per quart or liter of water.

b. 18 drops of Schultz-Instant liquid plant food per liter or quart of water.

7. Cover the plants with a transparent cover such as a plastic cup, clear plastic, or better yet, place the potted plant in a plastic bag, add a little water to the bottom of the bag, insert a stake or glass rod in the soil to prevent the collapse of the plastic and then twist it shut and secure with a rubber band or piece of string.

8. Place the plants in bright light or under fluorescent lights, but never in direct sunlight, for at least one week.

9. If the plants were well developed with roots, the bag may be untwisted and slightly opened. Over a period of a week, gradually open the bag more and lower it until the plants are exposed to the conditions of the growing area. If they were covered with a plastic or glass container, then prop the container up a little for 3 days after which you prop it as high as you can for 3 more days, followed by its removal. If the pot was covered with a transparent flat material, slowly remove it over a period of a week.

After acclimation to your growing area, the tissue-cultured plants should be treated and grown just as similar carnivores are.

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