Friday, July 27, 2018

Plant Propagation – You will learn a lot about gardening, plants, and your own disposition.

Making cuttings --  the fastest way to get a mature plant.  The ideal time to do this is in the spring and summer when plants are actively growing, although it’s not impossible to do in winter, if you want to use “woody” cuttings.  Also, the easiest part of a plant to start cuttings from is the actively growing upper part, rather than the mature (woody) base.
The First, Second, Third and Fourth parts of growing from cuttings is very much the same as those parts we discussed last month for seedlings.  Prepare your pots, paying attention to soil texture, nutrient levels, and mold.  You will want to prepare and have ready, containers to receive cuttings before you actually cut, --  the cuttings need to have a clean, fresh cut which can absorb nutrients and water.  Just a note about putting cuttings in water rather than soil . . . roots developed in water are not the same as roots developed in soil, so if you start out in water, the cutting will have to start all over again after you transfer it to soil.  (I know, . . . I didn’t believe it either until I extensively, and skeptically researched it.)
Fifth, when you make cuttings, be sure that you a stem long enough to include “leaf nodes” which should be buried beneath the soil – this is where roots begin.  Also, strip all the leaves except for a very few at the top.  This cuts down on a now rootless plant trying to support big leaf structures. 
Sixth, cultivate extreme patience !!!  It may take weeks for roots to develop, and you don’t want to disturb this growing environment until there is an abundance of roots. To test whether roots are being formed, give your cutting a slight tug – if there is resistance, it tells you that roots are holding the plant.  At that point, you can pop the cutting out of its pot and check to see if there is a whole network of white hair-like roots.
Seventh, it is probably too soon to plant directly into the soil, so transplant to a larger pot and give your new plant some more light and back off on the moisture.  By poking your finger into the soil, you should be able to see if its dry down about an inch – then it’s time to water.
Last Step is to transfer your healthy plant to its final destination.

Another adaptation to this method is what I call the “brick method” . . . bend down a stem until you can bury it in the ground (but still keeping it attached to the mother plant).  Scape the stem as before, bury it, place a heavy weight on top and declare that weight to be off limits to everybody.  Go off and leave the plant for a couple of months.  When it is firmly attached to the ground, cut it from its mother and transplant it to its preferred destination.  This is my favorite means of propagation !!

Submitted by -

Martha Dysart

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