Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Confessions of a Plant Thief (page 2 of 2)

by Kim Haworth

Rooting the Cuttings

Once I have my guilty secret home, I remove the flowers and cut the stems into 4- to 6-inch pieces. I make a clean cut at the bottom of the stem and then remove all but two or three leaves at the tip end of the cutting. I dip the cut end into a rooting hormone such as Rootone. I place the prepared cutting into a 2- to 4-inch plastic nursery container filled with damp sand or fresh potting soil. If I use sand, I place a piece of plastic window screen over the drainage holes so the sand doesn't run out of the holes when I water. I poke a hole in the potting medium with a chopstick or pencil and insert the cutting.

I place the containers inside a clear plastic bag and use a pencil or chopstick to keep the plastic away from the cutting, and then secure the opening of the bag with a twist tie or rubber band. Humidity is a plus when propagating from cuttings, so if I place the cuttings inside the plastic bag, I don't have to mist them several times a day or water as often. I place the bag in filtered light—in bright sun, the bag of cuttings would cook. I always feel the soil before I water; it should feel dry to the touch. Since the plant has no roots yet, overwatering will only rot the stem.

Once roots have formed, the little plant will begin to grow and form new leaves. At this point, I remove the plastic bag and set the young plants in a protected location with filtered sun. I begin a mild fertilizer program using liquid fish emulsion applied at half strength every two weeks. I transplant the young plants into a larger pot when I see roots coming out of the drainage holes.

Once hardened off plants go into the garden and soon my garden becomes a place of beauty with a little help from unsuspecting friends.

Photo by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association.

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