We had our first warning the other night when the outside air temperature dropped into the 30’s. The plants have been outside and we would like to have some of them inside but they may have grown too big. There are several ways one can start new plants. Cuttings being one of the

easiest.  Cut a stem with 3 to 4 nodes and remove the lower area of leaves with a sharp knife, dip the end of the cutting into a rooting powder. Not all plants need to have rooting powder but most benefit from it. Make a hole with a pencil into a pot full of damp potting soil and put the plant in past one or two of the leaf nodes.  Press soil against the stem and add water. To create humidity you can make a plastic tent or up end a jar over the cutting.

          Leaf cuttings are not quite as easy but work the same.  Cut off a healthy leaf. Trim the stem 1 1/2 inches long and dip in the rooting medium then put in potting soil about 2/3rds of the way down and firm the soil as with the stem cuttings. Some leaves may take as long as 8 weeks to produce a baby plant. This process works just fine for African Violets.

          Some of our plants that are outside by this time have small plants along the edges (called offsets). Remove the plant from the container and remove the offset, getting some of the roots and pot up at the same depth it was before. Mother Bromeliads die after they bloom after producing offsets. I have found a sharp little saw to work best in separating the babies. For most other plants a sharp knife will do the job.  
          Division will be easy for some plants. You can usually see from above if there are divisions. If so, remove the plant and shake soil so you can see best where to divide.  Be sure you get plenty of roots.  Keep all these new babies out of direct sun and wind until their roots take over.

          Layering is a process done while the baby is still attached to its mother. This works well for shrubs.  The easiest one is probably the spider plant (Chlorophytum humilis) which can have green or variegated leaves. It is usually used as a hanging plant and very popular as it is so easy to grow. Long, grassy leaves form an arch and then in spring and summer long hanging sprays of small white flowers cascade down.  These will change into baby plants if you place a container of potting soil under them and pin down into the soil until they root. Some of the babies will develop roots while hanging and you can cut them off and pot up. Ivy’s also works well.

          Layering a shrub takes a little long. Find a branch close to the ground that you can fasten down. Lightly scrape the lower part of the stem and place that area on the soil. To keep it in place before it roots, a rock or brick can hold it in place. This sometimes takes several months so you will need to keep to keep the soil most during that time.

          Air layering is a little more labor intensive. Especially if you have a tall plant such as a Fiscus. To air layer come down from the tip of the plant and cut a ring around the stem and fill it with rooting medium. Then wrap with plastic filled with moist spaghnum peat moss and tie both top and bottom and wait! When you see roots in the moss, the new plant can be cut off and planted. This may take sometime so don’t open the plastic to peek and dry it out.

          Some plants are so easy to start it is amazing. Coleus is one of these. Just before frost I like to take a cutting of my favorites and simply put them in water and wait! The part I don’t like about this is when they have roots and you lift them out the water, all of the roots flow to each other and rooting is not as efficient as if each plant had been separately rooted by the cutting method.  But a bouquet of Coleus is a wide jar can be a pretty thing by itself.

          A few plants take care of all this propagation by themselves! Have you ever had a Kalanchoe and noticed along the edges of the leaves many little baby plants that can drop into your other pots and root up? Perhaps you have had a “Piggyback plant” (Talmiea menyiesii) also called Mother of Thousands. It is a very pretty plant.  The babies form at the base of a leaf where it joins the stalk.  You need to remove the parent leaf, fasten it in the soil, and leave in place until the youngster is rooted. Talmiea makes a hanging plant as the weight of these babies causes the leaves to droop down.

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