Category Archives: Plant Propagation

Dividing Plants in January

If you’re looking to keep yourself busy in January, one of the tasks you can do is to divide some of your spreading perennials . Wait until you have a day in the 50’s when the soil isn’t frozen and dig up some of your spreading perennials. I usually put them in a bucket with some water to keep them moist and then wait a day for them to warm up a bit.

Then you can use whatever implement you choose – hands, knife, bypass pruner etc. to divide the plants and put the cuttings into individual cells. I add Osmocote to my ProMix potting soil. Make sure you have some roots attached to each division.

You can do this process with just about any perennials which are spreading and needs to be divided. The plants above are allium. From one plant, I got sixty divisions.

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Bulbils – Cheap Way to Propagate Plants

I admit that the word “bulbils” is new to me. I discovered a growth of tiny bulbs on top of my allium and I wondered if they could be planted.

I did some research and found out that these tiny bulbs are called bulbils. Most sites talk about bulbils on garlic, but also some allium species form these also.
Bulbils in a Pot
Here’s what they look like after 4 months.

I decided to cut off some of these bulbils and put them in a planter to see how they would grow over the next year. I could have separated them, but decided to keep them together. Charles Dowding uses this method, so we’ll see how it works. The trick is to leave about one inch of the stem. Make sure your soil is loose and moist (I usually add an inch of potting soil.) You can then just stick the stem in the soil and don’t have to do any digging.

I am planting these about an inch or so apart as I plan to dig them in the spring and move them to other locations.

Bulbils in the Ground

Here is what the root system looks like after a month or so.

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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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