The Philippine Mussaenda or collectively known as Doñas which were named after the First Ladies of the Philippines, are considered one of the most significant contributions of the Philippines to the ornamental industry which have been gaining recognition here and abroad. Instead of petals, which most of the common flowers are distinguished for, Doñas are known for their splendid and colorful sepals or modified leaves and continuous blooming habit.

mussaenda

 

There are about 20 Mussaenda species to be found all over the country. Since scientists from UP Los Banos, Laguna successfully developed several hybrids of Doñas, Mussaenda propagation has become one of the most lucrative business opportunities among small and large-scale ornamental growers. For the past years, the demand for cutflowers and landscape plants has undoubtedly increased, yet due to lack of stable supply of quality planting materials and efficient propagation techniques, the country’s market both domestic and international, is consequently decreasing.

In a joint undertaking, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), developed and studied the kulobmass propagation system and found that this could be a solution for these long-standing problems in the ornamental industry.

The Kulob system

Mussaendas are commonly propagated through marcotting which involves inducing roots to grow small plants while they are attached to the mother tree. However, this method cannot assure a continuous supply of planting materials because it takes 1-2 months to produce new plantlets.

In an effort to make an alternative efficient mass propagation technique that ensures uniform and saleable plants, the kulob system was introduced. In the kulobsystem, the cuttings, including the pot with the rooting medium are enclosed with polyethylene plastics bags in order to minimize transpiration, thus hastening rooting. The other known mass propagation technique is the mist system which involves the spraying of water to the cuttings while placed in their rooting beds. But this technique is best suited to large-scale mass propagation operations.

The How tos

  • Shoot tip cuttings
  1. Prune and fertilize (with 1 tbsp/gallon of urea) the stock plants weekly to facilitate new “flushes” or shoots.
  2. After a month, collect healthy shoot tips with 3-5 nodes from the stock plants. The shoot tip cuttings should be at about 4-5 inches long.
  3. Remove the older leaves leaving only one fully expanded pair.
  4. Use only one of the following rooting medium:
    1. pure coir dust
    2. pure sand
    3. decomposed rice hull and garden soil (1:1)
    4. coir dust and garden soil (1:1)
    5. coir dust, sand, and decomposed rice hull (1:1/2:1/2)
    6. coir dust and sand (1:1/2)

    To facilitate faster and easier rooting, the depth of sticking should be from 1.0 to 1.5 cm.

  5. Prior to sticking, drench the rooting medium with water and allow it to drain. Immerse the shoot tip cuttings in fungicide solution (5-10 minutes). It is also recommended that the rooting medium be drenched with fungicide solution to avoid any fungal contamination. One may use a 5x5x7 black plastic bag for planting 20-25 shoot tip cuttings.
  6. Enclose the entire system (cuttings, pot, rooting media and wire) with a polypropylene plastic and seal with a rubber band or string. Place it under partial shade.
  7. Open the plastic bag at least once a week and gently pull the cuttings to check if they have rooted.
  8. Start transplanting the cuttings after 1 to 2 weeks or when they have developed firm roots.

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For more information please contact: Dr. Calixto M. Protacio or Ms Lilibeth R. Obmerga, Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UP Los Banos, Laguna at Tel. No. (049) 536-2448.)

By: Mary Charlotte C. Fresco, BAR Digest, October-December 2001 Issue (Vol. 3 No. 4)