In the Garden:
Middle South
April, 2004
Regional Report

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Rooting away in a corner of my kitchen, my favorite geraniums, herbs, and mums from last year's garden are getting a new lease on life.

Rooting for Renewal

Like most gardeners, I like to keep a few plants from last year's garden indoors through the winter. My motive is not to push those tired old plants into working for another year, but to use them as donor plants for rootable cuttings. Thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and lavender take well to this renewal method, as do chrysanthemums and geraniums. I have good luck rooting herbs from the grocery store this way, too.

Success Stories
I get nearly 100 percent success using this simple method. I fill small pots with clean seed-starting mix or cactus potting soil, dampen it well, and use a chopstick to make three or four holes for the cuttings. Then I take 3-inch-long stem tip cuttings and remove all leaves but those at the very tip. Each cut end gets dipped in water and then rooting powder before I slip them into the holes and snuggle the soil around them. You can get rooting powder (a natural plant hormone) at any garden center. A small jar lasts for years.

I place my stuck cuttings in a shallow cardboard box, and cover it loosely with a piece of thin plastic (a produce bag cut flat works well). Twice a day, I lift the plastic and spray the cuttings with water from a pump spray bottle. After a week, I move the box to a place that gets a few hours of sun, and start taking the plastic off at night. The cuttings begin to show new growth within three weeks, a sure sign that they have rooted.

I start lots of plants from seed, too, though rooting cuttings is much faster and surer than starting seeds. But the best part is being able to regrow favorites from the past season. Right now they're busy in the box, but in a few short weeks I'll begin a second season of enjoyment from last year's garden standouts.


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