Sunday, February 17, 2008

How To Propagate Plants

The process of propagating plants is easier than most folks think. Some people, mistakingly, believe that all plants are grown from seed. If this were the case we would never have the variety of plants that we do today in our world. True, many plant varieties have come from seed grown plants and trees, but many also come from sports, commonly seen as mutations of currently growing plants. Many trees and plants can be propagated without rooting hormones. Rooting hormones, such as Hormodin and Dip 'N Grow, can be purchased at most home and garden centers. If they don't have it, they may willingly special order it for you. Rooting hormones for propagating plants are really only needed for harder to root types of plants. Some easy to root plants are: willow, forsythia, weigela, butterfly bush, and hydrangea. If you are new to plant propagation, try one of these plants first.

We've found the easiest time to root cuttings is in late Spring. You'll want your cutting to have "hardened off" on the plant first, meaning that where you make the cut to take your cutting is starting to go "woody". Inspect the stem you are going to take the cutting from. The tip of the stem will still look "green". Lower down on the stem you will see how the stem starts to turn brown or woody looking. About an inch or so below that woodiness is where you can take your cutting from. Using a pair of garden hand pruners, cut about 6 inches from the tip of the stem. Remove any buds on the lower 2 inches of the stem. This is where some of the roots will form. You'll have to prepare a pot of soilless mix for the cutting to reside while it's developing its roots. This can be any type of pot as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. You can fill the pot with a soilless mix that you can buy from any local garden center. You'll also want to pre-moisten the mix before inserting the cutting. Press down on the mix lightly to compact it a bit.

Now you're ready to insert the cutting. Simply insert the bottom part of the cutting into the mix and press the soil around the cutting gently and then lightly water around the cutting to set the cutting. You want to always make sure the mix in the pot stays moist (not soaking wet) and keep the pot in a lightly shaded place for several months. The hardest part of propagating plants and trees is waiting for them to root. You can occasionally check the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. If you see white roots through the drainage holes, you can be assured that the plant has rooted and will be ready to be planted in the Fall in either a nursery bed made specifically for growing on small trees and plants or you can go ahead and plant it out in its desired location in your landscape. Just remember, it will take the plant a few years before it grows into a decent sized plant. If you go ahead and plant it out in the yard, you can put a short wire fence around it to make sure it doesn't get stepped on or run over with a mower. Make sure the plant gets plenty of water the first few years, especially during a drought, while it is getting established.

Now that you've learned how to propagate plants, you can grow whatever your heart desires. Try your hand on various trees and plants and see what plants you can root and grow. It really can become addictive once you get the hang of it!



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