First you need good light.
Well, dear readers, I always endeavor to help so this is how I take stem cuttings from plants I want to overwinter in my greenhouse. I don’t think you’ll have enough light to just grow cuttings in a window, but you could grow them under lights indoors. Here is how you grow your own transplants from seed which is similar to growing root cuttings under lights.
Soft stem cuttings versus other types of cuttings.
You can grow transplants from other kinds of cuttings besides using soft stem cuttings. In fact, there are leaf cuttings, root cuttings, single-node cuttings, and stem cuttings. I have the most success with stem cuttings and root cuttings. The ones we’re discussing here are soft stem cuttings. Hard stem cuttings have a slightly different method, but I’ve also done them when I wanted another favorite rose for the garden.
Decide which plants you want to overwinter.
First, I decide which tropical plants and other perennials I want to increase in the garden or have again for next year. You can save a lot of money by growing some of your own plants. With the right equipment, it isn’t that difficult.
Out in the garden, I cut several stem cuttings from various plants. On many plants like begonias, you can also do leaf cuttings, but they seem to take forever, and I’m not that patient. I want to see some growth before the season is over, and winter’s cold chill takes out my tropical plants.
Why I grow so many tropical plants.
I grow a lot of tropical plants in my garden. Here’s why. Tropical plants, although they must be replaced each spring, give a lot of bang for your garden buck. They don’t take three years to establish as perennials do, and they love our summer heat. Many of them, including certain late-blooming salvias and false vervain, are wonderful nectar plants for late summer pollinators when other long-blooming perennials have quit flowering. Plus, tropical plants are a summer garden’s best friend. Tropical plants also figure into my winter gardening because they comprise some of my favorite indoor blooms and other houseplants.
Gather your cuttings and bring them indoors.
I gather up the stem cuttings and bring them indoors where I prep them for the greenhouse. It’s better if I already have pots filled with potting soil ready to receive the cuttings. You don’t want the cuttings to dry out. Use a fine quality potting soil. I like to reuse four-inch pots. Before reusing, disinfect the containers in a ten percent bleach solution to kill off bugs and bacteria. Fill the pots with good quality potting soil and wet down the soil.
Prep yours cuttings for their new home.
Snip off extra leaves from the stem to decrease the amount of water that comes from the leaves. I leave the small leaves on top but remove larger leaves.
Once I snip off the leaves, I like to have a stem with an axillary bud. This is the spot where leaves meet the stem, and it’s a great place for the plant to form roots. I place the stem into the potting soil so that the axillary bud is beneath the potting soil. In fact, I place the cutting so that the two leaves aren’t very far above the soil.
Dip the cutting into rooting hormone.
My favorite rooting hormone is HydroDynamics Clonex rooting gel. There are also hormone rooting powders, but they don’t stick to the stems as well as the gel. I had a lot more success once I switched from rooting powder to rooting gel.
Don’t leave the rooting hormone in the hot greenhouse after using. Instead, bring it indoors where it will stay cool. Even in early fall, greenhouses can get quite hot.
Now, stick the cutting down into the potting soil. I pulled this one back up out of the soil to show you how the gel sticks to the cutting surface, and the potting soil sticks to the gel.
Once you place your cuttings in potting soil, firm up the soil around the stem making good contact between the potting soil and plant.
Top off your little cuttings with grit.
I love the pink granite chicken grit I buy at feed and seed stores like Tractor Supply. You can also find grit on Amazon. Be sure to buy layer grit and not the smaller grit for baby chicks. You can also use rocks from Lowe’s, but I save gravel for larger plants.
Why use grit?
Grit keeps the top layer next to the plant stem dry, and there is less rot. I also think it inhibits some of the bugs because they don’t see that moist, soft layer of potting soil. They also don’t seem to like to crawl around in grit.
After you place the grit around the seedlings, water everything really well until water runs out of the bottom of the containers.
Water your cuttings every three or four days. You want the potting soil to remain moist, but not overwatered. You may lose a few cuttings but just replace them. It’s no big deal.
That’s all there is to it. Your little plants will grow and then stop once the days grow shorter. After the winter solstice, your plants will again begin growing. You can then take further cuttings from your own robust plants to increase their numbers before spring.
I hope this little tutorial helps you grow your own plants from cuttings. It’s a fun and economical way to make more plants.
Happy October everyone!