Rooting Plants from Cuttings
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” — Claude Monet
There is something so beautiful about gardening on a warm summer day. As a child I used to watch my mom spend hours out in her huge garden on her hands and knees, pulling weeds and filling garbage bags with them. Sometimes we kids would help her, and I hated it.
But when I got a little older I started to take comfort in my flowers and plants. I still don’t enjoy pulling weeds, but I get satisfaction in keeping my herb gardens tidy, and my flowers happy. There are few things better than picking a tomato, still warm from the sun, and slicing it up for a salad. I love to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon out in the garden, listening to my tunes, wearing my pink hat, and happily snipping flowers for arrangements.
So today I thought it would be a great time to show you one of the most handy things I have ever learned about gardening– how to root plants from cuttings. Shall we take a stroll through my garden?
Oh look at the chamomile, sweet as can be!
And lavender smells just so perfect to me.
The tarragon flowers, so orange and bright,
And this might “give you the thyme,” if you spell it just right.
Mint can be pushy, expanding like sin,
I don’t know what this is, so I just left it in. 😉
Sage is a beauty– a perfect delight,
So dry some and save it for Thanksgiving night!
Gerbera daisies, the belle of the ball,
And sweet larkspur, perhaps the most lovely of all.
But let’s say that you decide, “This plant is pretty. This plant is nice. I’d love to have this plant, but I’d like to have it twice!”
Ok my rhymer is out of batteries. haha. Maybe I have been reading too much Dr. Seuss. Anyway, there is a really cool trick for growing plants from cuttings, and it starts with . . . . a greenhouse!
Well . . . if you want to get technical, it’s not really a greenhouse. But I love to take the plastic salad containers (this model is from Panera), and re-purpose them into little planting greenhouses. Why not? They already have a cover that fits.
Today we are going to be taking cuttings of the Watermelon Peperomia plant. This little guy is a houseplant that you can sit inside on a sunny windowsill, or outside in the shade of the porch during the summer. They don’t like super hot, direct sun, but they do enjoy a sunny window, or a shady porch when the weather is warm. They are so cute and really do look like little watermelons with those striations on the leaves. So today, let’s show you how to propagate this adorable little watermelon plant from a cutting. Here are the tricks of the trade that we will need today.
You probably have everything here around your house, already, except for the Rooting Powder. I found this powder at Lowes for around 5 bucks, but you can also get it online if you don’t have a Lowes or garden center nearby. This powder is just basically a hormone mixture that help stimulate the plant to put its strength into growing roots, rather than continue to grow the leaf part of the cutting. A little goes a long way, too. I think I’ve been using the same can of rooting powder for about 3 years, and it doesn’t even look like I’ve used any. Sometimes I use this at the end of the summer to root myself some of my favorite annuals that are starting to die down. That way you can have pretty flowers in your windowsills through the winter, as well as free annuals come spring. You’re welcome. Rooting powder, you’re up to bat. Another home run!
*Note: Some flowers are “patented” and say not to propagate. So only use plants that are legally allowed to be “copied.”
Every plant roots a little differently. For things that have thick stems (like geraniums) you generally need to put the powder on the stem. But for this watermelon plant the leaf is the juicy part, and the stem is small and fragile. So we are actually going to root the leaf itself. Let me show you. Pick yourself out a nice big leaf that looks healthy and green. Cut it off close to the plant base.
Since this stem is so tiny and fragile, we don’t need to try rooting that. The leaf would just pull it over when we tried to stick it in the soil. So cut the stem off near the leaf.
Next, cut the leaf into 3 strips across. Use scissors or a sharp knife so that the plant cuts evenly and doesn’t tear.
Dip the cut edge of the leaf into the rooting powder. Some people say you should get out a separate dish to avoid plant contamination, but I’ve never had a problem just dipping it right in there, so I say live dangerously. You don’t need a lot of rooting hormone, and you can actually carefully pat the leaf on the sides of the container so that the excess powder falls off. You just want the cut edge to be white like this. Just covered, not globbed on.
We have filled our little makeshift greenhouse with moist potting mix, and I find that it helps to make yourself a little “groove” to put the leaf in so that you don’t scrape off the rooting powder when you place the leaf down into the soil. Make yourself a slit with a spoon, and gently sit the leaf, powder side down, into the dirt. Be gentle so you don’t knock the rooting powder off. Just kind of put this sleepy little leaf to bed. Thereeeeee we go. Nice and easy.
Now gently and carefully tuck him in. Awww . . perfect.
All is quiet in the little baby plant nursery . . .
Mist the plants and loosely cover them with the plastic lid. You don’t have to latch it– leave a little crack so that the plants can breathe.
Here is one that I have had “percolating” for about a month. The top gets misty through the day, just like a real greenhouse. Even with the lid cracked, it will get misty inside.
Here’s a little “greenhouse” I made from an old Juicy Juice container. I’m growing teeny cactus in there from seed. You can really use any kind of plastic container.
The “month old” plants look just about the same as the ones we just planted.
Here is another reason that plastic containers are great for seedling nurseries. You can start to see when the roots are forming, because they grow up against the plastic sides. These plants are ready to be carefully removed with a spoon (to keep the roots intact) and replanted.
Regular Pilea (not the watermelon kind) can be rooted the same way. These plants also tend to grow little “baby plants” at the bottom of a larger one. So either way is effective.
But there’s just something about those watermelon ones. I just can’t get over them. So adorable.
I like to share plants with neighbors and friends. I mean, who wouldn’t be happy seeing a smiling little watermelon plant coming up the driveway? Plants are a great way to get to know people and become friends with someone new! I have made many friends over the years just by taking an interest in their plants and striking up a conversation.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you. 🙂
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