Propagate Your Own Plants- Part 1- Cuttings

One of the fun parts of growing plants is propagating them yourself. There are hundreds of ways to propagate plants, and, of course, a society to boost the knowledge base of the science. The International Plant Propagators Society ( http://www.ipps.org/) is a global organization promoting and disseminating knowledge of plant propagation. Many techniques can be modified to find you specific needs i.e. some techniques bridge the gap between disparate plant types. The Internet is full of great ideas on how to propagate plants, but in this blog I'll focus on cutting propagation. The primary points to remember are protection from drying out and continuous moisture without getting the rooting medium soggy.  

roots usually form at leaf nodes

one of a variety of rooting hormones

a "cloche" or humidity tent

 a popular powdered rooting hormone

placing pots into plastic bags to speed rooting

One of the most common ways to root cuttings is to cut a 3 or 4 node cutting ( in some cases this can be over a foot long), remove the leaves on the lowermost node, cut the remaining leaves in half, dip the cutting into rooting powder or liquid and place cutting into a rooting mix. The rooting mix is often a combination of sterile peat moss and perlite or sand. The most important aspects of a rooting medium are that it drain well and it is sterile. Place the cuttings into a shaded area, and keep well watered, enough to keep the plants from wilting. In very dry or windy areas, a clear plastic tent or "cloche" can be constructed to keep the humidity high. Some growers place pots of seeds or cuttings into individual plastic bags to protect the new growth from drying wind. This is a good method, provided the plants are kept in shaded areas; even a few minutes of direct sunlight can cook your plants. Many Begonia and fern growers use this method to propagate plants from cuttings, seeds and spores.In most cases, plants will root in a few weeks. When roots show through the bottom of the pot, repot the plant into a growing medium suitable for the plant for the next year, and enjoy your new plants. There are thousands of plants which propagate by cuttings, and this method is a great way to share plants with friends and colleagues. One of the most important points in horticulture is to distribute plant genetics; you would not want to be the one person who killed that rarest plant in your area !

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens      

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