WARNING: Reading this post could save you hundreds of dollars. And make you smarter. -Your Friends at This Old House
Don't let the scientific term vegetative propagation scare you-it just means growing new plants from established specimens rather than seed. It can be an easy and economical means of increasing your plant stock. "Propagation is a wonderful way to make more of your favorite varieties to fill in blank spots in your yard or keep a few backups of a prized plant in case your original dies," says horticulturist Marc Hachadourian, who manages the Nolen Greenhouses at The New York Botanical Garden. Many gardeners also enjoy increasing the number of their favorite specimens to share with friends as gifts.
Here are some easy techniques that suit beginners-including rooting stem and leaf cuttings, root division, and ground layering-no greenhouse required. You can propagate most plants on a windowsill that gets only indirect light (harsh sunlight will bake tender cuttings). Follow this advice-and be patient. "Sometimes it can take longer than you think to get adequate roots," says Hachadourian. "Plants won't be rushed."
SEE ALL OF THE PROPAGATION METHODS FOR FILLING YOUR YARD WIT PLANTS AT NO COST
How to Make Leaf Cuttings. This method works easily on mostly tropical and subtropical species, including certain begonias, Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), and leafy succulents.
Step 1. Take a thick leaf and cut it into 1-inch-wide sections with a clean, sharp razor blade (as shown above). Each section should include a strong vein.
Step 2. Place the sections vertically, vein-side down, in a tray of moistened rooting medium, such as perlite; cover with a dome to keep moisture in.
Step 3. When roots, followed by small leaves, form at the base of the cuttings, they're ready to be transplanted to a small container with potting mix.
Note: African violet leaves can also be rooted from leaf stems placed in water. Cut off a few young, full-grown leaf stems in late winter to midsummer. Fill a glass jar with water. Cover the top with aluminum foil with several holes punched in it to hold the leaves erect and out of the water; leave one hole for adding water. Keep cuttings out of direct sunlight, and make sure the water level stays constant. Look for a developed root system of 1 inch or so. Don't let the plant stay in the glass long enough to develop "water roots," which won't grow well in soil. -STEPHEN ORR
How to Make Stem Cuttings to propagate geraniums, willows, forsythia, and more
How to Divide Roots to propagate hosta, daylilies, daisies, and more
How to Do Ground Layering to propagate climbing roses, clematis, hydrangea, and more
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