Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Propogating Plants in Water: A Step-by-Step Guide

I've always been obsessed with plants and greenery in the home. Outdoor gardening is new to me;  I am equally interested just more inexperienced. You might have noticed my planting obsession from my premature but oh so enthusiastic visions of spring post or my obsession with my antique fernery. I started growing plants from cuttings when I was young – probably in sixth grade – I thought it was such a wonderful miracle that you could snip off a sprig and it would start to grow! As a kid, I set up shop in all of my mom’s window sills. Now I fill my own!

One of the reasons I think starting houseplants from cuttings is so great is that it’s a virtually free method of gaining houseplants! Like a friends plant? Ask for a cutting!

Here is a list of plants that will propagate:

African Violet, Angel’s Trumpet, Avocado, Basil, Begonia, Christmas Cactus, Coleus, Croton, English Ivy, Gardenia, Geranium, Hibiscus, Impatients, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Mint, Petunia, Pothos,  Roses, Rosemary, Salvia, Sedum, Spider Plant, Verbena, Wandering Jew

Starting plants from cuttings is literally as easy as making the cut, putting it in water and finding a sunny window sill. If you want more information read my step by step guide below! A true gardener will tell you there are better mediums than water to root in (perlite, vermiculite, seed starting mix) and yes, the plant does get a bit of a shock when it is moved from water to potting soil and the roots are weaker and more brittle however I’ve always had about a 70% success rate so I don’t think propagating in water should be ruled out. Be flexible and expect that some plants won't take. If nothing else it’s fun to watch the roots grow in water!

Step One: Make Your Cut
Cut a section off of the pre-existing plant  - around 8-12 cm - using sharp scissors or shears. Take the cutting from “new growth” (usually a lighter green colour) for best results. Make the cut directly under a “node”. A node is the small bumps or rings where a leaf is or was attached. (How Stuff Works)

Step Two: Remove Extra Leaves
You don’t want a bunch of leaves attached to your cutting so remove any “extra” leaves from the cutting especially those that will be below the water level. You can add a rooting hormone at this stage. I don’t normally do this however if you want to go all out “rooting hormone, available in the form of a powder, gel, or liquid, can be applied to the cut section. While not absolutely necessary, it can help stimulate faster rooting” (How Stuff Works). If you're a seriously results driven person you may want to do this. If you're in it for the fun I wouldn't bother.

Step Three: Put the Cutting in Water
Fill a small glass container (mason jars work really well) with water. Remember to change the water regularly. I do every couple of days. If you have a water softener or are on city water you may want to try distilled water instead.

Step Four: Watch it Root
The roots will form. The process varies and can take either weeks or months depending on the plant and the growing conditions. This is the fun part in my opinion!

Step Five: Plant the Cutting in Soil
To avoid the root starting to rot in the water move the cutting from the water to soil as soon as you have roots that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. Some internet sources say to cover in a plastic bag at first to trap in humidity. I’ve never done this. Others say to keep shaded for the first little while. I've also never done this. This is the hardest step and where the plants often wither. Some withering is natural at first.

Step Six: Water, Water, Water
Water your cutting generously once they have been planted in potting soil. Try using a mister if you feel like you’re over-watering. Remember: not all plants can be grown from cuttings and not every cutting you start will take. English Ivy is one of my propagating  go-to’s  however the one I started last winter withered up and died once planted in soil. Try to roll with the punches and start more than one cutting to avoid disappointment!

Step Seven: Enjoy Your New Plant
The most important step - enjoyment! Once you have a new healthy and happy plant I have a feeling you will be as addicted to propogating as I am.

The finished product: I decided to start an English Ivy & a Geranium after writing this! They are hanging out on my windowsill until they have roots long enough to plant. 

On my kitchen window sill :)
ETA: I'm coming back to this post to update with my Ivy which I have officially planted in soil! It flourished on my windowsill and I finally felt like it was ready to be planted just in time for spring.

May 7 2014

May 7 2014

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