Category Archives: Plant Propagation

March 1st Echinacea Planting

Approximately 50 echinacea seedlings from seed I collected and planted on March 1st. The moral is, don’t throw away your old echinacea seeds as you cleanup the garden in early spring. The voles frequently decimate my echinacea roots, so I constantly need to renew them.

Seed pods I collected on March 1st

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Doubling Milkweed

Rooting Tropical Milkweed

One of the easiest ways to double your tropical milkweed plants is to take cuttings from the new seedling plants and put them into water. I’ve found that aluminum cans works well. In around two weeks your cuttings will have roots which you can plant into new containers.

Below is what my old plants look like after I cut them down and let them grow back for two weeks.

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Stuck at Home Gardening

Since most of us are stuck at home and don’t have access to the local nursery and plant sales, here’s an easy way to multiply your current garden plants.

Most perennials prefer to be divided every few years and it’s a relatively easy process. Here is the process I am doing with a native plant – Wild Sweet William – Pholox divaricata.

The first step is to dig up a nice size clump and start dividing it by shaking off the dirt, pull it apart and cutting off obvious sections. You can then plant each section and end up with a lot more plants than when you started. I ended up with 47 plants from my one dug plant. This plant costs as much as $19.95 at some online nurseries. Do the math – an hour of my time potentially saved me $1000.00.

Below is another good video on dividing perennials.

Dividing Plants Video

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When You Can't Go to the Nursery

If you’re stuck at home and can’t get to your regular nursery, big box store or plant sales, there are lot of options to start new plants. Here are a few tips.

  1. Dig up the perennials you have and divide them.

2. Look for seedlings in your garden and repot them or replant them into a new area.

3. Take cuttings of new growth and put them in a pot to root. Rooting hormone does help.

4. Online sources of seeds are numerous. is one of the cheapest.

5. Seeds from previous years will probably still germinate – give them a try.

6. If you have just a few seeds, only put one seed per pot.

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How to Use Cuttings to Increase Plants

Butterfly Gardening

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

  1. 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.
  2. Put as much potting mix as you think you’ll need in a…

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Cuttings and Garden Tour

Monday – Sept. 10th – 10 a.m. – 9016 Robyn Rd – 63126

DSC05686-800I am doing not only doing a tour of my Butterfly Gardens, but also teaching a class on how to propagate plants by cuttings.

We’ll be using my Miss Huff lantana for cuttings, so bring a cutting device and a glass/plastic container so you can take the cuttings home.

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Seeds and Cuttings Class – Sept. 16th


Tom is doing a free class on collecting seeds and making cuttings to help increase your plant population in 2018.

No need to signup – just park at the school across the street.

Date: Saturday – September 16th
Time: 10 a.m.
Place: 9016 Robyn Rd – Crestwood, MO 63126


  • Paper lunch bags for seeds.
  • Scissors or pruners.
  • Small pots, clear plastic bags and potting mix for cuttings.


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After Seed Germination

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-8Pinch 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.

fan-800Use 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.



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Saving Seed and Cold-Moist Refrigeration


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.

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Cuttings – Test Results


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.

From left to right you have:

Perlite – Fertilome w/o fertilizer – Charcoal – Gravel – Miracle Gro.


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