Wtih The Augusta Chroncile since Dec. 20, 1995 covering courts and legal issues. Now serving as part of the projects team that focuses on investigative reporting.
Posted June 24, 2010 03:15 pm

Getting the tips to make more


   I've been so busy with chores that I totally forgot to do a list of chores for June, although I'm sure everyone has a to-do list without my nagging.

   Next week I'll pick up again with chores for July, just in case you need a little help. But there is one thing that you can start in June that might not be on your radar: propagation by taking stem cuttings.

   Taking stem cuttings is a great way to increase plants. Although they will be small, they will grow. It's also a great way to create a supply of presents and to have a wagon load of plants for the next plant swap.

   The first thing to do is prepare your cutting bed. From a Walter Reeves show I learned that you can take two plastic containers to fashion a homemade terrarium. Fill one with sterile soil. Up end the other to form a top and tape along one of the long edges. Water the soil down so it's very wet but not pooling water.

   Now decide which plants you want to propagate.

   It's advised to take cuttings in the morning. This is the time when a plant is most fully hydrated. With sharp pruners or knife, snip off a section about 2-3 inches from the tip of a stem. If you are doing more than one, take along a dampen plastic baggie or cup of water.

   Back inside with your homemade terrarium (you can do it outside, yes, in the heat or inside in the air-conditioning), use a pencil or other device to make a hole several inches deep.

   Take the cutting, snip off the leaves and any buds so that you only have two or three leaves at the very tip. I also snip off just a little bit more from the end.

   Dip the end in water and then into rooting hormone. Tap the stem to remove excess and then gently insert cutting into the prepared hole and firm soil around it.

   After you are done with that, close the lid and set terrarium in bright, warm location, but not in direct sunlight. You should get rooting within two to five weeks, according to Nancy J. Ondra's "The Perennial Care Manual." You will want to open the terrarium every few days to give the cuttings some air, increasing the time for air circulation as time progresses, she advises.

  After a few weeks you should be able to transplant to individual pots. Give them some time to grow before transplanting them into the garden or flower beds.

   Later in the summer we'll try taking root cuttings. I have a Bear's Britches that I would love to propagate, partly because it's planted in an unforgiving mostly clay spot, and because I really want more. Then maybe in the fall we can get into transplanting, or as it's know at our place, correcting your planting mistakes.