In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
March, 2012
Regional Report

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This philodendron is a prime candidate from which to take cuttings to make plants for summer shade pots on the patio.

Foliage Instead of Flowers

Last fall I took cuttings of the foliage plants from my outdoor containers with the hopes of growing them through the winter into beautiful plants to put out next summer. Since I don't have a lot of sun in my yard, I rely on foliage plants of different textures and shades of green and gray to make my container plantings attractive.

Swedish Ivy
Several years ago I picked up a shade-tolerant type of Swedish ivy with stunning velvet gray leaves. I took it outdoors for summer and then brought the huge upright plant indoors for winter. It was beautiful but way too big to manage. So, this year, I took cuttings, and now have about twenty small plants that should be the perfect size when planting time rolls around.

Variegated Vinca
I tried to take cuttings of the variegated vinca vines I grew in all my pots, but not a single one of them put out roots. I'm still looking for information about any special needs they may have so I can try again next year. I know they naturally root at the stem nodes while growing outdoors, so I'll make a point to take advantage of this natural method of layering next fall. Meanwhile, I'll just purchase new ones in the spring, since their elegant draping vines add such a nice accent to a hanging basket.

Sweet Potato Vine
Another exceptional foliage plant I like to use is the dusky purple 'Blackie' sweet potato vine. This grows from a tuberous root just like an edible sweet potato. Last year I saved the tubers and dried them down to start new plants in spring. Well, it didn't work. Some of the tubers grew, but very slowly, and the plants they produced were not very sturdy. This year I decided to take cuttings, just like with any other vine. They rooted really fast and I now have about ten plants to put out next year.

Another Sweet Potato Vine
A friend gave me a lovely chartreuse sweet potato vine from which I also took cuttings. I think the combination of chartreuse leaves and black-maroon leaves is going to be stunning next year. These combined with my purple wandering Jew and deep green Swedish ivy should make delightful container plantings.

Houseplants for Foliage Outdoors
I've had such success with these plants that now I'm taking cuttings of some of my houseplants to use as outdoor foliage plants. I have cuttings of philodendron, pothos, and hoya just waiting to go out into containers on the patio.

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