If you’re looking for ways to save money in your monthly budget, but still would like to have lots of garden plants, here is one option – Cuttings. Early Fall is a great time to start this process. Don’t wait until later as the plant physiology starts to change and you’ll have less success with the cuttings.
Plant Propagation Checklist
Buy a soil-less potting mix, rooting hormone, Osmocote and a seed germination tray from your local garden supply store. If you can buy an extra bottom tray that would make it easier and safer when moving the trays around. I prefer the trays with 36 cells per tray. You don’t want soil, but a potting mix without soil. I prefer BX Promix since this is what professionals use. It’s more expensive and can be hard to find.
Put as much potting mix as you think you’ll need in a…
There are lots of websites and videos which show you how to start your seeds inside, but the question is “What do you do after the seeds have germinated?”
I have started seeds indoors for many years and have pretty good success. The problem I always have is that the plants get tall and have weak stems and don’t do as well as I’d like when they go outside.
Mary Ann Fink has given me a number of suggestions which should help.
Pinch the end of the plants when they get two or three sets of true leaves. This will encourage the plant to send out lateral shoots and be bushier instead of just tall.
Use an oscillating fan to push the plants back and forth. This will encourage them to make their stems sturdier.
Finally, give them a pat on their tops. This is supposed to keep the plant smaller and sturdier and not quite as tall.
Another tip I have learned from a plant propagation class is that when you want to harden the plants off, you need to reduce the watering of the plants. You want them to dry out between watering.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to start saving seeds and then start their period of cold-stratification. Shaw Nature Reserve has a nice PDF on this process and how each species is slightly different.
I’ve already done a detailed report on the process that you can find here.
I’m going to test their three month refrigeration process against leaving seed outside in pots and see how Mother Nature compares.
Here’s a picture which shows that Miracle Gro and Gravel tied as the the best medium for rooting plants. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but Gravel had 5 flower buds and Miracle Gro had twenty. Gravel also was a bit bushier with larger leaves. Miracle Gro was definitely taller, but was less filled out and had smaller leaves. Gravel also had a lot more roots coming out the bottom. These are the same plants planted at the same time. Either one would do well for rooting cuttings.