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Tissue culture? It's a newly popular and easy way to multiply plants.

Tissue culture is popular with commercial growers because it lets them reproduce lots of plants quickly from parent plants. You can do the same in your kitchen. The key to success is cleanliness.

Here we take you through the process with an African violet. With that plant, tissue culture takes about as long as leaf rooting (approximately a year), but it gives you many more plants from one leaf. You can try tissue culture on many kinds of plants, but you'll need a different growing medium for each. The source listed below carries a separate medium for each of the following: begonias, cordylines, crassulas, dracaenas, ferns, gerberas, gloxinias, kalanchoes, lilies, orchids, poinsettias, and rhododendrons.

What you need. Tools are a single-edge razor blade, long tweezers, aluminum foil, purchased growing medium or pressure cooker if you mix your own, four glasses, isopropyl or ethyl rubbing alcohol (70-to 80-percent solution), liquid bleach, sterile (boiled) water, plate, plastic wrap, two clean 3-pound coffee cans, and a candle. Buy the African violet growing medium from a scientific supply house or from Carolina Biological Supply, Gladstone, Ore. 97027 ($2.50 per sterile jar--order #19-5906; add 20 percent for shipping).

Getting started. Sterilize foil-wrapped blade and tweezers for 1-1/2 hours in a 320[deg.] oven.

Prepare sterile jar of medium by heating in water until medium liquefies. Then lay jar on its side to let medium rejell.

If you mix your own medium, put enough in each jar so it doesn't run out when jar is on its side. Cover jar with foil; place upright in a pressre cooker with 3 quarts water; cook 20 minutes at 15 psi. Let the cooker cook before opening, remove jar, and lay on side to let medium jell.

Taking the tissue: Sterilize healthy "middle-aged" leaves by rinsing in running water for 5 to 10 minutes, dipping in alcohol, then soaking in a 50-50 mix of liquid bleach and water. Rinse twice in cool, sterile water.

Now wipe the plate with rubbing alcohol and cover with a tent of clear plastic wrap suspended between 3-pound coffee cans. Put the leaf on the plate and cut into 1/4-inch squares, sterilizing the blade in the candle flame between squares.

With tweezers, press each cut piece into the growing medium, as pictured at right, using 4 to 10 cuttings per jar. Cover the open end of each jar with foil.

Keeping the jars on their sides, move them to a warm, light room until rooted bean-sized plantlets appear--it takes about three months; then transplant these into 2-inch pots. (If decay appears in any jar, throw the contents out.)

Cover pots with plastic wrap for two weeks, watering as needed, then continue to grow as you would any young plant.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1985
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