Easy Propagation 1

This week in the Flog:

  • Easy Propagation!
  • The first in a series on propagation techniques

Just a quick flog this week on easy propagation. Note, there are many ways to propagate a plant, I’m going to cover several of them in this “propagation series”. Here’s an easy way I practice periodically.

So you have a shrub or vegetable or bush or whatever, and you just love it, so much in fact that you want to clone it. Like some kind of mAd sCiEntIsT. Well it’s neat, in our gardens we get to be mad scientists all the time, muahahahaha…

What’s an easy way to clone a plant? Rip off a branch and plant it! This is a very simple technique and it won’t work in all situations, but if you do it right you’ll have great success with many plant species.

Here are the branches I ripped off some dill-‘ish’ plants I noticed growing out and about, that I’d like in my garden. Seriously, I just ripped them off a plant I saw out and about. Brought them home to the garden. The “cuttings” I got are about 6-10 inches (15-25cm) long. You can see they are all from the growing end of the plant – no middle section of braches. You can use middle sections, but I think it’s more successful to pick the end of the branch so you have the growing tip of the branch included.

Easy Propagation - the cuttings

These cuttings will make nice additions to the garden

Now you’re going to take the branch (the cutting), and rip off most of the leaves. All the way up to near the top. Here’s why: when you plant the branch, the roots will come out from all the nodes where you ripped leaves off. And why do you only leave a little at the top? Because, the greenery at the top relies on nutrients brought up from the roots. We have no roots! So if you leave a lot of greenery on top, it will starve before there are enough roots established to support it. To help this problem you can cover the transplant so it get’s less sunlight initially, and that will help with nutrient demand – less photosynthesis action in the greenery means less nutrient demand on the roots. In any case here is the first cutting to transplant, with many of the leaves ripped off the stem:

Easy Propagation - Ready to plant

“Look ma, no branches!”

Now we dip the cutting in water for a couple minutes. This is just to give it a little drink before transplanting, since it won’t efficiently take up water for a bit, until the roots develop. You can use a rooting hormone solution and that will help. You’ll need that for plants that are harder to transplant. Every plant species is different and some are very difficult to transplant. I think this will be ok though, and I’m just using plain water for this step.

Easy Propagation - Drink time

Give your plants a drink before you transplant them

Next step is to plant! I’m using a pen to poke holes in the ground to plant into. I’m just lazy and don’t want to dig proper holes to plant these guys:

Easy Propagation - pen hole

Using a pen to dig the cutting-hole. Ghetto.

Now the cutting is planted up to the point where I ripped the leaves off. I left about 1.5in(4cm) of greenery on top above the soil. As I mentioned before, I could cover these to help give them a rest period in which to grow roots – meh. Let’s see how it goes.

Easy Propagation - Planted!

Planted! That was fast and easy…

After you transplant you will notice them get wilty for a few days. That is normal – they have no roots to bring them water yet. After a few days they’ll start to perk up, and after about a week they’ll start growing again.

Now, I planted these before we left for our trip. As you may have noticed in a previous post, they established and grew quite nicely. I’ve since cut them back a lot. Here’s one of the transplants before I cut it back. It’s about 5-6 ft tall (the trellis is 4ft) with lots of side branches coming out and trying to take over. That’s pretty good, in 2 months it grew from that little cutting to this monster – water only:

Easy Propagation - Results

Wow, well that was successful look at this monster! Water only!

  • Dan

    I read that if you soak the bark of a willow tree in rain water for a day or so, and dip the cuttings in that, it’ll help the twiggier cuttings take hold quicker and with more success. It’s going to be a while before I can start planting anything for this year to test it out…would you say there is any basis to this claim, if so (or if not) what other ideas would you suggest for promoting root development?

    • Patrick

      Interesting Dan, I hadn’t heard of that before. I know willow bark has an aspirin-like compound in it that is a pain reliever, but hadn’t heard of that application. Try it out! Maybe the aspirin helps plants get over transplant shock? :)

      Root development – phosphorus. very dilute bloom recipe should be good. Fermenting a bunch of growing root tips and then using a dilute solution of that should work too.. Interesting things to test out.

    • Eddie

      Many growers in my area soak willow branches/bark in water and use it for cloning. we call it “willow water”

      • Patrick

        Thanks Eddie that’s a great addition to this post. You’re not the first to mention willow – I will have to look into that more.. :)

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