Friday, March 15, 2024

Easy to propagate plants are meant to be shared

By Kendra Raymond

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a penchant for grabbing opportunities to propagate plants for little to no cost. The challenge of growing a full plant from a tiny cutting can be an enjoyable and rewarding journey.

A healthy citronella plant which has been
propogated by cuttings is shown.
Recently, I found myself at the auto parts counter face to face with a mono-color spider plant. Having never seen this type before, I politely requested a “spiderette” from the clerk, who muttered, “Whatever turns you on”. Well, I was pretty delighted marching out of the place with my license plate bolts and a ready-to-plant cutting.

Many plants can be propagated by cuttings, which means you snip off a section and place it in a medium such as water or soil. To grow, the plant must eventually produce roots to anchor itself, take up water and nutrients, thus becoming established. If your plant thrives, the process can continue, and you can root endless plants for yourself or to share with others.

As a professional horticulturist, I can attest to the value of home plant propagation. My daughter is well-known in her circle of friends for gifting various rooted plants. This is an inexpensive way to share something that you have invested time and love to cultivate. She enjoys visiting thrift shops and yard sales to find quirky planting vessels that fit the recipient’s personalities.

A Purdue University Extension publication lists the benefits of propagating by rooting as:

** The new plant will be identical to the parent plant. Plants grown from seed will often be different from the parent plant and from each other.

** Propagating a new plant via cuttings avoids the difficulties of propagating by seed. Additionally, some seeds are difficult to germinate, taking two to three years for the seedling to appear.

What types of plants are best?

Some plants can reproduce by cuttings and others cannot. If you wish to root cuttings, it is essential to be aware of the species that will respond to this method. Some of the easiest selections are: pothos, monstera, jade, spider plant, snake plant, jade, hoya, African violet, and ivy. When in doubt, or to learn more, check out the list of 40 top plants to propagate here:

How do I take the cuttings?

Choose a healthy well-established plant that can withstand the loss of a small section. I just use a set of kids craft scissors and snip a bit off the tip. This can be a leaf and a bit of stem, or a larger section of stem can be included. It is a good idea to make your cut where leaves connect. The freshly cut section can be dipped in a commercial rooting compound or not.

What about the rooting?

The type of plant you hope to grow will determine the best rooting method. Plants like geranium and spider plant enjoy being placed directly into soil. Choose a specially designed starting compound which contains the right amount of air and nutrients to grow roots. Make a small hole with a pencil or your finger, pop the plant below the soil surface and before you know it – poof, a new plant. I have been cultivating a scented geranium (Citronella) all winter. It is growing like wildfire, so every couple of weeks I take a cutting and plant it directly into its own pot. The cutting encourages lateral growth, and the new plants continue to grow from the base.

Other plants will respond well to rooting in water. Plants such as African violet and monstera will root from just one leaf. Once the roots emerge, simply plant in potting soil. A snake plant can be a lot of fun to grow. Cut a leaf section and place it in water. This is one of the easiest plants to propagate.

With all propagating operations, keep your plants in diffused sun, average humidity, and warmth.

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” - Saint Basil

Texas A&M University has published a fantastic guide for beginning propagators: <

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