In the Garden:
Lower South
September, 2000
Regional Report

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Esperanza is a semi-hardy perennial that's easy to root.

Making More Plants

Fall is just around the corner in our region. Until this past week only the most optimistic among us could have believed fall would return to relieve the stranglehold this summer's heat has had on our gardens. I woke up one morning this week to temperatures near 60F. There is hope for a change of seasons soon.

Propagating Favorite Plants

Many of our landscape plants are getting ready for their final flower show of the season with the arrival of fall rains and consistently cool weather. This is also a great time of year to propagate new plants from favorite perennials, shrubs, and trees. What technique you use to make new plants depends on the plant you're propagating.

Rooting That Favorite Rose

I have an 'Old Blush' rose that I really love. I want to make more plants to give to friends. Simple layering is a great way to do this if you only need a plant or two. Basically, you bend a rose stem down to the ground, scrape off a section of the bark above and below a leaf node about 1 foot from the stem end, and bury that section under a few inches of soil. Dust the wound with a rooting hormone powder. Place a rock on top of the soil to hold the stem in place, and in about a month, you'll have a new rose rooting in the soil. You can cut the new plant off from the mother plant and, voila, an instant gift!

Rescuing Tender Tropicals

A few of my favorite cold-tender annuals such as pineapple sage can't take winter freezes. I save these by rooting a few stem cuttings to winter indoors. It's a lot easier than trying to bring the whole plant indoors or protect it outdoors.

Easy Rooting Chambers

I use pint and quart milk cartons with clear plastic bags over the top as rooting containers. Clear 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles also work great. Just cut them in two pieces 3 or 4 inches from the bottom and make sure you poke some holes in the bottom for water drainage.

Place a couple of inches of perlite or a commercial rooting mix in the bottom of the rooting container. Moisten the mix, but don't make it soggy wet or the cuttings will rot. Take 4- to 6-inch stem cuttings from your favorite plants and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone product to ensure better results.

Saving Semi-Tender Perennials

In addition to a few roses, I also propagate some semi-tender perennials just to make sure they're ready to plant next spring when the weather warms. Some of the plants at the top of the list are esperanza (Tecoma stans), firebush (Hamelia patens), a couple of varieties of passion vine (Passiflora), and several perennial salvias. All these are fairly easy to root. In a few weeks they should have strong root systems and be ready to move into larger pots.

The more I think of it, the more plants I want to propagate to save or have available as gifts. I'll have to buy more potting soil and pots!


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