Rafed English

How to Propagate Your Plants

Growing your own plants is a satisfying and inexpensive hobby. Propagation of plants refers to producing more plants by dividing, grafting or taking cuttings from existing plants. If you have seen a beautiful plant in your neighbor's garden or somewhere else in the area, here is your opportunity to include it in your garden too. Unlike seed, cuttings and divisions of plants will result in an identical plant that will reproduce the same beautiful flowers, blossom etc. that probably attracted you to it in the first place.

1. Dig the plant up when the flowers have faded.

2. Shake the soil from the roots.

3. Break the plant into several pieces. The divisions should follow fairly natural points on the plant (at nodes, or between leaves etc.). The important thing is to make sure each divided piece has shoots and roots on it.

4. Replant each piece in good soil in a pot or sheltered garden bed and water thoroughly.

Taking Cuttings

1. Select a suitable pot for your cutting. You might want to use a normal-sized flower pot for one plant or you can even establish a number of cuttings in the same pot, planted apart from each other. Seedling tubes are also a good idea for many plants.

2. Prepare the pot. Get a plastic (polythene bag) and place gravel at the base of the bag. The pot will be placed in here after you have made the cutting. Fill the pot with suitable soil - sand and peat for drainage make an ideal combination for many plants. Finally, the pot must be able to drain well (the water will go onto the gravel, rather than pooling in the plastic bag).

3. Cut a firm, young shoot from the current season's growth. Cut it off just below a leaf or joint (node).

4. Prepare the cutting. Once you have cut the plant piece, strip or cut off any leaves on the lower half. You can strip or cut off as high as two-thirds if necessary. If the bark looks like it will tear, use scissors. You can also make a small incision to the lower end of the stem to encourage root growth from this "wound".

5 Insert the cutting into sand and peat in the pot. Use a skewer, pencil or similar long object to create a hole for the cutting to sit in. Do not use the cutting itself to push in a hole or you will damage it. The idea is to gently drop the cutting into the hole and carefully in-fill with dirt.

6. Cover in plastic bag

- Place both the pot and the cutting into the bag. Make sure that the pot is sitting snugly on the gravel.

7. Tie the top of the bag together with a twist tie. This makes it very easy to undo for watering and to place back on again.

Final Steps for Both Methods

1. Keep the soil moist. Do not soak or over-water the cutting or divided plant or it may rot and not take root. Water spray works well for many plants but take care with succulent and furry leaves. They are best only watered directly at the soil level, otherwise the combination of humidity and water may encourage fungal growth.

2. Pull the cutting or divided plant gently in about 6 - 8 weeks. If you can feel resistance, you'll know there are roots. Most plants will root within 6 - 8 weeks, although some species of plants can take up to 12 months! Do your homework on the plant if you aren't sure. Most common garden variety plants will root quickly.

3. Transplant to a larger pot or the garden when the seedling is well-established.

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