One of my favorite gardening activities is plant propagation. In fact, you could say that it’s what first got me interested in gardening as a young child. Plant propagation is one of the best ways to add more plants to your garden and landscape for free, and it’s a fun way to make more of the plants that you already have. But understanding some key plant propagation tips is an easy way to make more plants and the key to getting plant propagation right.
This week’s episode is a very timely encore presentation of an episode from a few summers ago where Brie Arthur shared some fascinating facts and tips on the basics of plant propagation. Brie has extensive experience as a horticulturist and professional plant propagator. She shared her wealth of experience and knowledge with us in this episode.
Rooting cuttings is what’s known as asexual propagation and is one of the easiest and most effective ways to propagate additional plants. It’s also my preferred method of plant propagation.
There’s a lot to consider before you dive into plant propagation. First, it’s good to familiarize yourself with what types of plants will root at various times of the year. Softwood cuttings do well earlier in the year, while midsummer is the ideal time to root semi-hardwood plants. Fall and winter is the season for conifer propagation, a type of plant that can be the most challenging to propagate and is often best left to the experts.
Other things to take into consideration are growing media, container size, and cutting methods. It’s critical that you use a well-drained, sterile, soilless media. The goal is to keep the soil moist while the cutting is rooting, but you don’t want the soil saturated. Using a deep container that allows plenty of room for root development is best. And one cutting per pot is a good practice to follow to allow for easy transplanting.
When it comes to actually taking the cuttings, there are some specific methods to follow. You always want to use a sharp knife to take cuttings, and remove flowers and flower buds to allow the energy to be focused on root and shoot production. Take your cutting from new growth at the tip of the plant, and cut just below a node, where a leaf comes off the stem.
What about dipping the cutting in a rooting hormone before planting? You can use rooting hormones to speed things along, but they aren’t always necessary to use. With woody material, they can help promote rooting and increase the number of roots and create uniform rooting much more quickly.
Once you’ve successfully taken a cutting and placed it in the growing media, proper care is essential to its success. Keep them in a shady location and make sure the soil stays moist. Patience is key during this stage. Watch for roots to start coming out of the bottom of the pot to know that the plant is established enough to pot up into a larger container.
As a home gardener, it’s fun and rewarding to experiment with producing more plants, especially if you have plants that have been shared by friends or passed down in your family. Propagation is a more advanced gardening skill and takes some time to master. If you aren’t successful the first time or if you lose a few cuttings, don’t get discouraged. Some plants are just hard to propagate, and even the pros have failures!
Have you tried plant propagation? What was your biggest success at making more plants? Share with us in the comments below.
And be sure to check out the show notes from the original airing of this episode for A LOT more detailed instructions on how to make more plants for free.