Plant Propagation

EFB 437/637

Monday/Wednesday - 9:30 a.m. to 10:25 a.m., Illick 530
Friday - 12:45 p.m. to 3:35 p.m., Illick 530
Instructor: Terry Ettinger, Greenhouse Manager
Office: 529 Illick Hall
Phone: 315-470-6772
Mobile: 315-471-5854

Spring 2019 Course Syllabus

You can download and print a .pdf version of this syllabus by clicking on this link.

Terry Ettinger
529 Illick Hall
Office Hours:
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Monday-Friday by appointment
Class Days, Times and Location:
Monday/Wednesday - 9:30 a.m. to 10:25 a.m., Illick 530
Friday - 12:45 p.m. to 3:35 p.m., Illick 530
Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, it is my hope that you will have developed the knowledge, skills, and confidence to help others learn how to propagate a wide range of plants. In other words, my over-arching goal for you is that by the end of the semester you will possess the deep knowledge and skills needed to teach plant propagation! To teach well, you will:

Note: Additional outcomes for graduate students enrolled in EFB 637 include:

Required Textbook:

Currently in it's ninth edition (I used the third edition when I took "Plant Propagation" in 1980), the assigned textbook is a classic and used in almost every plant propagation-related course in North America! You'll find one copy of the ninth edition, one copy of the eighth edition and three copies of the seventh edition on reserve at the Moon Library reference desk.

If, however, you're in the process of developing a professional reference library, I strongly encourage you to purchase a copy - if for no other reason than the last three chapters offer specific recommendations for propagating many hundreds of plant species. (And, yes, I do know that it's ridiculously expensive to purchase.)

"Hartmann & Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices"
F.T. Davies, R.L. Geneve, and S.B. Wilson
Ninth Edition
ISBN-10: 0-13-448089-9 • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-448089-3
Pearson Education, Inc., 2018
Additional Resources:

Copies of these books are on reserve at the Moon Library reference desk for your convenience.

"Plant Propagation: Concepts and Laboratory Exercises"
Beyl, C.A. and R. N. Trigiano, eds.
ISBN-10: 1-4200-6508-4
CRC Press, 2008
"Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation"
Kenneth Druse
ISBN-10: 0-517-70787-X
Clarkson Potter, 2000
"American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques"
Alan Toogood, ed.
ISBN-13: 978-0789441164
Dorling Kindersley, 1999
"The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation, From Seed to Tissue Culture"
Michael A. Dirr & Charles W. Heuser, Jr.
Second Edition
ISBN-10: 0942375-092
Varsity Press, 2006
Online Journal Resources:

I'll introduce you to most of these resources during the first week of class. My experience, however, has been that most students forget they exist within the first couple of weeks of the semester. This is unfortunate as they can be very helpful as you're working on your course capstone project.

Therefore, as a reminder of their existence, don't be surprised if there are occassional quiz/exam questions based on articles found in these resources!

"International Plant Propagator's Society" (Link)
Just as it sounds, this nearly seventy-five year-old professional organization and it's international membership focuses specifically on the propagation of economically important plants (agricultural, ornamental, silvicultural, etc.). Student membership in this organization is free and provides you with unlimited access to the organization's online Annual Proceedings.
"American Society for Horticultural Science" (Link)
The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) publishes three excellent journals; HortTechnology (focuses on communication of the "practical application/adaptation" of horticultural crop production/management/education research), HortScience (focuses on the communication of "applied research" results), and the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (focuses of the communication of basic research results principly to other researchers).
"Journal of Environmental Horticulture" (Link)
Similar to the ASHS HortTechnology journal, this quarterly Horticulture Research Institute publication typically focuses on the communication of the application of research to real-world problems. The results of several SUNY ESF American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project research projects have been published in this journal in recent years.
"Southern Nursery Association Research Conference Proceedings" (Link)
Originally formed by a group of nursery owners in Tennessee and Georgia in 1899 to address unfavorable rail shipping rates to northern and midwestern markets as well as non-uniform nursery stock inspection practices from one state to another, this organization has grown to be a major supporter of nursery and greenhouse production and marketing research. It's annual Research Proceedings can be an excellent source of information on the propagation of a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennials.
"Propagation of Ornamental Plants" (Link)
Published four times per year, this journal is truly international in scope. Most articles focus on aseptic/tissue culture propagation research. However, research on the propagation of a wide range of plants using other propagation techniques can also be found in this journal.
"Native Plant Network" (Link)
A component of the National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources, the mission of the Native Plant Network is to "provide technical and practical information on the growing and planting of North American native plant species for restoration, conservation, reforestation, landscaping, roadsides, etc." The two principle resources offered by the NPN is the Native Plants Journal and the online Propagation Protocol Database that as of January 2018 features nearly 3,000 protocols for propagating native plants!
Supplies Needed:

A 10X hand lens, small (and sharp) pocket knife can be helpful at times over the course of the semester.


Typically, I will post any updates, changes, additional resources, etc. to the "Notices" section of this website. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you get in the habit of checking the "Notices" page every day.

However, there may be times when I won't be able to access the website server.

When/if I cannot access the website server, I will deliver class updates to your ‘’ address. If you do not check your '' email on a regular basis, go to the SUmail redirect page to set up redirection to your preferred email account.


There is no attendance requirement/expectation for this course. However, as I mentioned on the home page, my hope really is that you're going to find it to be one of the most interesting and useful you'll take during your time here at SUNY ESF. And, therefore you'll look forward to coming to every session.


I'm not going to ask for a show of hands here, but . . . . , I'll bet at least a couple of your classmates jumped straight to this section? I believe we've all been programmed throughout our school years to focus on the importance of good grades - which I strongly believe is not the same as good/deep learning.

Grrrrrrrrr, I HATE the concept of "grades!" I believe the lazer-like focus on grades takes the focus off the bigger picture of learning - which I think is the whole idea of college, right? I would much rather you fail this class (don't freak out, it's not likely) and LEARN a lot, versus receive an "A" by being good at "playing the game" (i.e, cramming for quizzes, exams, etc.) - but actually learning very little over the course of the semester!

Therefore, I hope that you'll keep the following "Six C's" in mind as you make your way through this course - and the remainder of your undergraduate education and beyond.

Confidence - Over the course of the semester, you're going to be constantly buffeted from all directions - classes, work, relationships, family issues, etc. I encourage you to consider this class as undertaking a large-scale, long-term project. At times you're going to encounter obstacles that require you to dig deep and be resilient. Developing "grit" and "determination" now will give you the confidence you will need to succeed in the future.

Content - Believe it or not, you may likely become "the" SUNY ESF expert on some topic we address in this course. Instead of resisting this curiosity, be passionate about it!

Creativity - Gluing content together in ways that have never been imagined - often not intentionally, but sometimes with confidence, is the "holy grail" of this trait. Unfortunately, the blinders of getting a good "grade" more often than not squash creativity like a bug! I encourage you to create and share in this class.

Critical Thinking - Our understanding of how the natural world works, as well as our understanding of how little we actually know about how the natural world works means that the knowledge base for propagating plants is truly like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle that's being constantly broken apart every time you look away! Your challenge will be constantly sift through the shifting sands of propagation knowledge (content) to determine what information you'll use (confidence) to solve (creativity) your current propagation dilemma.

Collaboration - The idea of a lone wolf coming up with the "next big thing" (Amazon, Tesla, Facebook, etc.) just doesn't happen. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, et. al., all collaborated with (many) others as their ideas were taking shape. While it may be easier to "just get it done" when it comes to group projects in this class, practicing your ability to focus the confidence, content expertise, creativity and critical thinking skills of your classmates to solve problems collaboratively will almost always lead to better results.

Communication - Have you ever thought about using your social media accounts to document your educational experiences (confidence, content expertise, creativity, critical thinking, collaborative skills) to show potential employers how you can help them effectively communicate their message? Have you ever used presentation software other than PowerPoint? Have you ever turned a PowerPoint presentation into a video that you've then embedded in your website (you do have a personal website, right)? I encourage you to take risks when communicating your learning experiences in this class. Even if it "bombs" spectacularly, as long as you've made an honest effort, you won't be penalized.

To tie these "Six C's" together, I strongly encourage you to watch New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman's Education and Average is Over presentation.

I'm pretty confident in saying that most employers are never going to ask you what grade you received in this class - or even what your GPA was college. However, you might end up having them sitting up, listening intently and considering hiring you as you explain to them how they can use twin-scaling to propagate dozens of new plants from their grandmother's heirloom amaryllis bulb!

Now, having said all of the above, I do realize that focusing on grades is a hard habit to break, therefore, I want to assure you that if you actively engage in all components of the class it should be pretty easy to get a pretty good grade - especially because you'll be grading most of your work YOURSELF!

Let me say that again . . . . , you will be grading most of your own work.

There has been a lot written on the process of grading (typically students zero in on the grade at the top of the page then stuff the assignment/quiz/exam in a folder without reading any of the instructor's comments) and the correlation of grades to actual learning (not very strong). However, the inspiration for my move toward student self-assessment was an article entitled "If You Are Grading, You May Not Be Teaching."

Quizzes (20 x 10 = 200 points):

Mastering any type of performance involves repetition – whether it’s playing a musical instrument, shooting free throws, baking pies, learning the art and science of growing what you eat, etc. The twenty quizzes you’ll take during most lecture periods this semester (ten points each - you can drop the lowest score and double the highest score) aren’t intended to be annoying or punitive.

Rather, the intent is for the quizzes to encourage you to continuously review and reflect upon the material presented throughout the semester, continuously gluing and layering information together in different ways to help you develop a deeper understanding of the foundational knowledge and skills needed to successfully propagate a wide range of plants. In fact, taking frequent low-stakes assessments such as these quizzes has been shown to improve learning, not just measure it and is referred to as the "testing effect."

And, even if you're not inclined to believe learning science researchers, you might want to see what students in the spring 2018 version of this class had to say about frequent quizzing!

The quizzes are cumulative (i.e., questions on the quizzes may be from any lecture, lab, field trip, supplemental reading, etc.) and are typically short - three to six or seven sentences - essays.

I will collect and scan quizzes you take on Mondays, return them on Wednesdays and you will have until midnight on Fridays to email me your self-grading effort. I will collect and scan quizzes you take on Wednesdays, return them on Fridays and you will have until midnight on Sundays to email me your self-grading effort. I will prepare and post on the course website a short rubric and video that will aid you in your grading effort.

Lab Assignments (2 x 50 = 100 points):

You will submit two, fifty point individual/small group assignments during the semester. You will grade your effort using a rubric we will co-create at the beginning of the Friday, January 25th lab session. Instead of viewing them as "busy work" (like I did as an undergraduate), I encourage you to consider them as opportunities to practice communicating effectively via written documents, oral presentations and/or the creation of digital media content. Done well, these efforts can certainly be valid components of an "e-Portfolio."

Exams (3 x 100 = 300 points):

There will be three, one hour exams over the course of the semester. While each exam will focus primarily on material covered since the preceding exam, they will be cumulative. Like the quizzes, the questions will generally be short answer/essay. However, any given exam could theoretically consist entirely of true/false questions, multiple choice questions, or even a single, multiple part question to be answered in essay form.

If you come to class (and participate in discussions), actively participate in the labs, watch the assigned videos, do the readings and study (this is college, after all), the exams will be a challenge. Their intent is two-fold; to encourage the repetition required to make the knowledge and skills associated with propagating a wide range of plants second-nature to you, and to develop your critical thinking and communication skills - not to stress you out!

As with quizzes, I will collect your exams, scan them, then return them to you – ungraded – during the next class session (typically on a Friday). You will then have one week to review and grade your exam prior to a roughly ten minute, one-on-one meeting with me the following Friday to discuss your effort.

Final Exam (200 points):

The final exam will be cumulative, covering not only the material and discussions presented during the lecture portion of the course, but also lab assignments, field trips, and workshop presentations prepared by your classmates. The questions on the final exam will be similar in form to those found in the one hour exams.

Unlike the three hourly exams, I will grade your final exam efforts as you may have other exams and projects you may need to focus on before the end of finals week. I will, however, scan your exam and send you a .pdf version for your class record. I will also post a grading rubric and video to the website should you choose to review your exam at your convenience.

Course Capstone Project (200 points):

This three-part project will provide you with an opportunity to explore a plant propagation-related topic in-depth - e.g., influence of environmental factors on seed germination, vegetable grafting, influence of rooting compounds on stem cuttings, etc. This may very well turn you into the SUNY ESF expert on the topic.

The first part of this project will be to write a manuscript suitable for submission to a popular gardening magazine such as "Fine Gardening." I realize that writing may not easy or enjoyable for you, but it is an invaluble and marketable skill that you should continue to hone throughout your career.

The second part of this project will be to create a short (roughly five minute) instructional video that will support and expand upon a thirty minute lesson you and a partner will prepare and deliver (i.e., teach) to Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers on Saturday, April 27th.

We will discuss this effort in much detail during the February 1st lab session at the end of the third week of the semester and I will continue to add more guidance and resources as appropriate to the Course Capstone Project page on this website.

Grading Scale:
Academic Integrity:

I will do my best to deliver a course that is worth your time and effort. If I do not clearly present materials in lecture or during labs, please do not hesitate to ask (politely) for clarification. If I can be helpful in directing you toward additional information on a topic of interest to you, please ask during class, send me an email, call, and/or stop by my office.

In exchange, I expect you to be an engaged and respectful participant in the course. As with most things in life, the more effort you put into this course, the more you’ll get out of it.

Also, it should go without saying that I expect you to present your own work. Incidents of cheating, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will result in the failure of specific assignments and/or the entire course. Please consult the SUNY ESF Academic Integrity Handbook for additional information and guidance on academic integrity.