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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Propagation – Plants for Free


How to Propagate: Techniques and Tips for Over 1000 Plants, John Cushnie, Ball Publishing, 2007

Propagation is starting plants from seeds, division, or cuttings. Here are some easy ways to propagate plants that will give you many free plants for your use or for sharing.

Sowing and saving seeds:
  • Annuals and biennials such as sunflower, poppy, zinnia, cockscomb, cleome, nigella, and heirloom vegetables are excellent for harvesting seeds.
  • Allow the seeds to dry on the plant or cut them and place them in a warm place. The seedpod will open. Use a sieve to extract the seeds.
  • Store the seeds in your refrigerator. Use clearly marked sealed paper envelopes placed in a lidded plastic container. Sow seeds at the appropriate time for your zone and seed type.
Dividing plants:
  • Division is best saved for autumn: intense summer heat will stress the plant.
  • Dig up the plant and cut the root ball into pieces with a sharp shovel or knife. This works well with hostas, phlox, day lilies, and many perennials.
  • Cut apart the rhizomes or tubers of calla lilies, banana, elephant ears, cannas, and iris to increase the number of plants.
  • A new plant may be started from cuttings by using a stem, leaf, or part of the roots.
  • A growing medium is critical for success, and a hormone-rooting compound is commonly used to encourage growth.
  • Cuttings should be taken from healthy plants with sharp tools so no damage is done to the parent plant or the cutting.

Other methods of propagation include air layering, grafting, budding and tissue culure. Books abound on the topic and are important for plant specific information. Please remember that some plants are patented. Review this website for more information: www.ams.usda.gov/science/pvpo/PVPindex.htm

This article was provided courtesy of the Fayette County Master Gardeners, Lexington, KY