Propagate This!

AUG
Renewing Soil Mix
For Andy growing vegetables in 5 gallon buckets – with much success! But all of us can rejuvenate and recycle potting mixes. Here’s how:

JAN
Bottom Heat?
If you are ready to root cuttings of overgrown houseplants or start seeds for the spring garden, you need this sweet heat. Soil conditions kept just warmer than average room temperature will be fine to keep most roots happy and growing. Look for heating cables to warm a flat of soil or a mat to lie underneath it. Both will be labeled for greenhouse use and will have simple technologies to regulate heat. Better root systems develop when soils are consistently warm and though we should always water seedlings and clones with tepid water, we don’t always. Bottom heat helps to ameliorate that situation and keep growth proceeding apace. Keep reading for more about rooting plants with bottom heat.

JAN
Propagating Succulents

Succulent plants store water in their leaves very efficiently because they evolved to thrive in areas with prolonged dry seasons. If you travel during the week or have more sunlight in a room than most plants can tolerate or if you are prone to forget to water, succulents are for you. My favorites include rosary vine, burro’s tail, aloe vera, jade plant, and pearl plant, a Haworthia that you should grow. Keep reading to learn how to propagate these plants.


DEC
Propagate Poinsettia
I hope you had great success rooting pothos in water or begonias in loose mix for gifts. It’s down to the wire to pot them up, put on the wrapping, and deliver the goods! Use a good quality potting mix with fertilizer added to make the transition easier, especially for the non-gardeners on your list. Now, raise the bar on your own propagation passion – give yourself rooting cubes made of oasis or other foam. Made to clone those reluctant-to- root like poinsettia, vines, and vegetables, these dense cubes promote faster and better rooting when used with Hormex Rooting Powder and Hormex Liquid Concentrate. Read on for more about rooting that gorgeous poinsettia on your dining room table this week!

DEC
Pleasing Propagators
I’m making a list and checking it twice to be sure all the gifts are nice enough for people who want to do more rooting in the New Year. Start here and keep reading for a different kind of gift. • Hormex Home Garden Packs are available at the website in 2 different sets of 3 concentrations. Give one or both to suit every rooting desire. • Grow Lights in fixtures with plant racks use just a little electricity to deliver the full spectrum to rooting beds, seed starting, and indoor gardens. • Single-bladed Knives useful in propagation are sold as Budding and Grafting knives. The best are larger overall than the average pocket knife with a similar design except for a blunted blade and bark lifter.

DEC
Hormex Strengths

It’s a good question – what do the numbers mean after Hormex, like #3 or #1? Do they refer to IBA? Yes, the numbers after different Hormex products refer in a shorthand sort of way to the strength of the product. This range of IBA concentrations really sets Hormex apart and makes your job as a propagator more successful. The numbers range from Hormex #1 to the most concentrated, #45, indicating their relative strengths. #45 is reserved for plants such as Juniperus sabrina ‘Tamariscifolia’, aka Tam or Tamarix juniper, that are notoriously reluctant to root. No, most other powdered rooting hormones are not differentiated in this way and yes, it does make a big difference. Find more information at Hormex.


NOV
Easy Elderberries

Elderberries and other thicket forming shrubs root well from hard wood cuttings. Once the weather has cooled enough to knock off the leaves, take a dozen tip cuttings. If the wood is very hard, slice the bark off of the bottom inch and in any case, roll the bottom inch of each cutting in rooting hormone such as Hormex #3. Put a rubber band around the bundle of cuttings and sink it into a trench or deep pot of damp sand. Leave one inch of stem and one or two nodes above the sand. Your job is to keep the cuttings slightly damp, exposed to cold but not freezing weather if they are not in a trench, and otherwise leave them alone until spring. Read this week’s blog for more about rooting thicket plants like elderberry.


NOV
Thanks and Giving
This holiday, I’m thankful for having better success with two cloning projects and this week’s blog will tell you how. Few things, living or dead, are named ‘Nellie’ and most of them are the stuff of unpleasant childhood memories. The word rhymes with jelly, smelly, and belly, as this chunky child soon learned. From Roy Rogers’ jeep to exhortations to wait till the sun shines, Nellie is a no-fun moniker. When I discovered that one of my favorite hollies bears my name, I was immediately smitten with the tree. Said to be a random cross grown first from seed in Maryland by Mrs. Nellie R. Stevens, the tree stayed in the family for years before entering the world of commerce. This story charmed me as much as the tree’s beauty and berries and I was determined to grow and give them away.


NOV
Good Questions!
Read on into the blog for the answer to this and more propagation questions: My mother-in-law has a huge corn plant with several tall stems each about 2 inches in diameter but only a few leaves at the top. We have tried several times to make an air layer. What tips can you give us?

NOV
Hardwood Cuttings
Most of the time we prize tip cuttings, but those are the least helpful in starting hardwood cuttings because they dehydrate quickly. Instead, select pencil-thick stems or canes and direct your attention to the bumps along its length. These are the nodes that push out leaves and can be persuaded to do the same for roots. Look at the stem and in most cases you will see where this year’s growth begins. It is usually slightly lighter in color than the wood behind it. That wood – below the tip and above the very mature wood – makes the best hardwood cuttings and often there is enough for multiple cuttings from just one stem. Keep reading for details about propagating with hardwood cuttings with Hormex Rooting Powder.

OCT
Indoor Garden Update
If you took my advice a few weeks back and stuck some cuttings taken from your tropical plants, it is time to check in on them. If the soil is staying quite wet, or if water droplets stay on the inside of the rooting box more than half the time, you are keeping it too wet. Gently grasp one of the stems and wiggle it just a bit. If it pulls right out, something is wrong, and you may have to begin again. But if the month-old clone resists your tug, it is rooting. At that point, add 1 teaspoon of Hormex Liquid Concentrate to a small reservoir. Keep reading for more about propagation!

OCT
Bleach: Friend or Foe?
Chlorine bleach is a volatile liquid that should only be used in well-ventilated areas. You know this if you have ever choked on bleach fumes in a closed laundry room. When it comes to keeping a rooting box clean, it has no rival for the home gardener. Mix a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water in a plastic container, but only mix what you need right then. Despite the lingering odor, bleach has a half life of 2 hours. That means it loses half its effect and is useless 2 hours after it is mixed with water. Soak whatever it is for 30 minutes and then rinse with water. The clean is great, but bleach is tough on skin – please wear gloves when mixing and using bleach!

OCT
Root Vining Houseplants
When you bring trailing plants like pothos and heart leaf philodendron into the house for the winter, some vines get broken. But others are simply too long and pull their pots off the shelf or drag on the floor. Either way, you can get several feet of potential cuttings! Vines have nodes, the places where leaves pop out, and most of them can root, too. Cut the vine between 2 nodes, or at least ½ inch away from the node itself. Make a single diagonal slice through the vine, move over 3 nodes, and make another cut. Lay the cutting on top of a good rooting medium and water it in with Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed 1T/gallon of water. If the vine refuses to lie flat, gently anchor it down with something that will hold it without crushing the green stem. It’s a good use for old-fashioned hairpins and yes, they still sell them in little packets! Keep reading for more about cloning green stemmed vines, including ivies.

OCT
Clone for Insurance
When tropical plants head into the house for the winter in much of the country, too many people expect leaf drop and possibly slow death. This is not fate but rather a reaction to the transition. If possible, first move the pots into less sunlight outdoors to get them ready. Inspect pots for pests, leaves, wash the dust off the leaves, and wipe both pots and saucers. Cut them back and propagate the cuttings! Survey the plants and decide locations based on their needs for light and group the plants to increase humidity around them. If you are growing flowering plants or others that require strong sunlight, consider adding supplemental light. Bulbs and fixtures, growing stands with lights, and replacement fluorescents are widely available. Can’t find grow lights? Use 1 cool white and 1 daylight fluorescent together to create the full spectrum of light. Read more about why we love to clone in this week’s blog…

SEP
Pitcher Plants, Glory!
Less than 3% of the native pitcher plant bogs along the US Gulf Coast remain today, lost to the increase in wetland damage and the cessation of annual burns that renew the ecosystem. These days, the Savanna exhibit at Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, MS, offers one of the last places to see these stunning, bizarre, and all too rare plants. You can grow these and tropical pitcher plants and see them in action in your own containers. Native to the East Coast and Southeastern US, this plant family includes the jewel of the Crosby savanna, Sarracenia alata, the yellow pitcher plant. Crucial to their life in the wild is the annual burn, a beautiful and dangerous natural rejuvenation. You can watch this year’s burn at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLXB9nVCwbk. For propagation information, keep reading…

SEP
Rooting Woodies in Autumn
At this time of year and frankly, because pure green cuttings of woody plants are much harder to clone, you will also want to strip some bark before sticking. Here’s what to do: take 6 inch tip cuttings, longer if you are not using a single blade knife and thus will have to recut before sticking. Make a single cut on a slight diagonal and strip the leaves off the lower half of the cutting. Now use your knife to scrape off just the outside of the bark on the bottom inch of the cutting. Roll the cutting in Hormex #3 or soak them for 5 minutes in undiluted Hormex Liquid Concentrate and then slip the lower 3 inches into the rooting mix. Put the pots outdoors in a low light protected location, water weekly, and mist or drape with removable plastic to keep the humidity levels up and leaf loss down while rooting. Cool weather is fine, freezing weather is not, so prepare the outside area accordingly.

SEP
Herbs All Winter
To keep harvesting fresh herbs all winter, separate clumps of oregano, thyme, sage, and chives now. Even where they are hardy, the winter growth is just not as tender and tasty as you can produce indoors. Pot up herb divisions in 4” clay pots and drench right away with 2t Hormex Liquid Concentrate/1gallon of water. I seed parsley along with another round of basils, pesto and Thai, for the same reason and water the new seedlings with HLC as soon as they sprout. Now’s also the time to propagate plants too tender or too large to move indoors.

SEP
To Wash Pots or Not
I’ve been caught on the horns of a gardening dilemma for years. I cannot bear to throw away a pot but was taught that in order to reuse containers, I must wash and bleach rinse them. There are few garden chores I hate worse than this one but have done it anyway, like penance for the sin of enjoying the garden too much. After much reading and considering, I have decided to give up pot washing and instead just wipe them out with newspaper. I’m resolved to kick the habit because very few of my plants have pest issues. I am finally persuaded that chances of contamination in a small garden environment like mine are almost nonexistent. When it seems likely a plant died from root rot, I vow to toss both soil and container in the name of smart garden sanitation. I feel sure I will keep the used pots separated from the new ones, but to keep me honest, I’m tossing the heavy duty gloves kept around just for handling chlorine bleach.

AUG
Rooting Hormone Strengths

Most products made to deliver rooting hormones to plant materials come in a dry form and in one, maybe two, strengths. Hormex goes way beyond them with 6 strengths of dry hormone preparation and a liquid concentrate of hormone in general purpose strength. Their website has great guidelines that outline examples of species that are best cloned with which strength, and you can write to me for suggestions. Too often when a plant does not root, gardeners figure they’re to blame. Sometimes that’s the truth, but sometimes it’s the right strength product. For thick cuttings, for green stems, and to quickly get a lot of cuttings ready to stick, use Hormex Liquid Concentrate. It penetrates readily, requires no more than a 15 minute soak, and makes for a simple drench during cloning.


AUG
Propagating Strawberry Plants
I hope you have been fortunate enough to have strawberry plants that have grown thick and/or sent out runners with little plants on the end. If not, don’t fret too much. Summer can be fatal to strawberry plants, especially those that are very hot, above 95 degrees for weeks, or very dry as so many have experienced this year. If the plants don’t dehydrate on their own, spider mites get started under the dry leaves and suck the life right out. When the weather is wet and hot, leaf diseases can wipe out a strawberry bed in a week. But now is the time to divide crowded strawberry clumps and to propagate the little plants out at the ends of the runners. Dip the newbies into a solution of Hormex Liquid Concentrate (2 T/gallon of water) for 15 minutes, then pot up in a well-drained mix.

AUG
Perennial Propagation
Despite the conventional wisdom that tells us to dig and divide perennials in the season opposite their bloom, gardeners often put the task off. A long, hot summer and enough rain to saturate the best garden bed can delay work on daylilies, iris, spigela, lilies, and other spring flowering perennials. The long fall ahead gives the plants plenty of time to recover if you go ahead and propagate them now. Dig up entire clumps whenever possible and divide cleanly into as many new starts as possible. Set up a dishpan with 1 gallon of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of Hormex Liquid Concentrate. Soak the roots and clump base in the solution for 15 minutes before replanting. Use HLC (1T/gal) at 2 week intervals until late October to water the new planting and stimulate plenty of roots.

AUG
Root Bay Laurel
Ignorance is sometimes bliss. I didn’t know that bay trees are considered hard to root when I began sticking cuttings several years ago. If you have one of these, now is the time to clone. The green tips do not root as well as the wood a bit further back down the stem. I take a cutting about 6 inches long and remove the green tip entirely, leaving about 4 inches to root. Roll the slanted tip in Hormex #3 and slip 2 inches into the rooting mix. Remove or trim leaves only as necessary. I root the bay individually because each will grow into a small tree and they do not transplant easily once rooted. After a month, tug gently on the cutting – if it resists, it is rooting!

AUG
Handy Liter Bottles
You’ve seen neat rooting chambers made from liter bottles. The neck and a portion of the bottle gets cut off, and then 1 inch slits are cut up the side so it will slip down and sit on the rest of the bottle. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the bottle, put in a lightweight mix, dip your cutting into Hormex Rooting Hormone and slip it in. Keep it covered and unscrew the cap to ventilate daily. Liter rooters are nifty for class projects since each child can recycle and propagate in one lesson. I have used them to root single cuttings of hydrangea with good success. I just found a new way to recycle liter bottles by making a rooter that is a version of layering. They’re rooting muscadines, but the same method could be used on any vigorous vine during the growing season. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFlsrU15uoc

JUL
The Right Layer
When a plant is difficult to root from a cutting because it is very woody or has a fleshy cane, try layering. By rooting your clone while it is still attached to its mother plant, you can take advantage of mama’s vascular system. The flow of water and nutrients will only be slightly impeded by the layer and will continue to sustain the stem you are cloning so you don’t have to. Air layers use long fibered sphagnum moss to make a damp rooting zone around a slit you have cut in the stem, while ground layers only bury part of the stem to encourage rooting. Both techniques work because the clone is still attached to the mother plant, and it makes your task much easier to do. Keep reading to learn more about how to use Hormex Liquid Concentrate in layering.

JUL
Aspirin, Willows, and Propagation

My friend swears by willow water for his roses. He soaks the cuttings in it for several hours before potting up. I root roses and everything else with Hormex products, but you may find it interesting to know that willow not only has IBA but also SA, another plant hormone found in aspirin. Here’s a recipe for willow water:


JUL
Hush Your Mouth
Or more properly, cover it and your nose, too, when working with dry materials like peat and perlite. These two make a fine rooting mix in a 1:1 ratio, and bagged mixes are available as ‘soil-less potting mix’ like the Metro Mix products. Their packages seem to weigh nothing because they are bagged very dry and are incredibly dusty. You know you should wear a dust mask when mowing and trimming and this is another task you do not need to inhale. Don your mask and pour the mix into a bucket, add water slowly and stir with a trowel until the mix is damp. Fill pots, flats, or a rooting box with the mix. It is essential for success to stick cuttings in one motion: Make a fresh cut on the stem, roll it in Hormex Rooting Powder dip in Hormex Liquid Concentrate, and slip the cutting into the mix.

JUL
Dumb Canes, Smart Roots
I love Dieffenbachia plants, even though they are called dumb cane. We were not allowed to use the words dumb or stupid because my mother believed there were more descriptive terms. In this case, the dieffs could be called silent canes or anesthesia canes since their name comes from the substance in them that paralyzes vocal cords if ingested. These beautiful plants root easily from their stems, called canes. Cut a piece of stem, with or without leaves, that is 2-4 inches long. Be sure it is clean and unblemished, then dip the end in full strength Hormex Liquid Concentrate for 2 minutes and stick that end into a pot of damp sand or lightweight potting mix. Put the pot in the shade outdoors or if rooting in an air conditioned home, drop a clear glass jar over the top to raise the humidity inside and promote rooting. Water regularly but do not flood the container and expect roots in about one month. In another few weeks, leaves will sprout from the nodes on the side of the cane above the mix and you’re on your way to a new clone.

JUN
Propagating Live Oaks
This iconic tree has a certain air about it even as a young tree, but the sprawling limbs that grow into thick arms as it ages are unforgettable. You can grow it from acorns, but the seedlings vary widely in shape and growth rate. Tip cuttings are extremely difficult to root; even the pros get only about a 20% success rate. For much better odds, expose a foot long section of live oak root near the trunk by removing all the soil around it. Cut sections 2 inches wide and long, dip the cut side in Hormex Rooting Powder #3 or #8, and stick into a pot of damp rooting mix. Cover with damp sand and put in a cool, shady spot. Water sparingly and move into gallon pots in about 6 weeks.

JUN
Summer Watering
Be conscious of summer temperature when watering cuttings set to root. All plants can be vulnerable to that first blast of hot water from a hose or watering can, but new cuttings are especially at risk. They exist in porous rooting media, usually in small spaces with few or no roots. The hot water sitting in just a few feet of garden hose can even burn their little green stems. Whether you are using Hormex Liquid Concentrate at the time or not, use the baby bottle test on the water that will irrigate the rooting bench – if a drop feels hot or cold to the inside of your wrist, wait a bit.

JUN
Use the Right Thing

Strength matters, whether it is the alcohol content of your favorite brewski or the rooting hormone you choose for a particular plant. While it may be considered more efficient to down the more potent beer, using a stronger rooting hormone than a plant requires will not be rewarded with greater result. A plant that can root in Hormex #3 will find that growth stunted in Hormex #45 and vice versa. Use the right strength for the right cloning power to produce roots in the fastest time. With 50 years of experience to document success,

Hormex Rooting Powders

are formulated at 6 different strengths for particular plant species from perennial Mints to Yew trees and conditions, such as dormant hardwood cuttings. Make smart choices, in beer and rooting hormone strengths.


JUN
When the Bough Breaks…
…root it quickly! Storms can be beautiful and scary all at the same time, so walk the garden after a big one to survey the damage. When a broken branch dangles in front of your eyes, make a fresh clean cut and root it. Roll the cut end in Hormex Rooting Powder and stick the tip or stem cutting into a small pot filled with lightweight potting mix or into the damp sand of your rooting box. Alternatively, and especially with green stems, dip the cut end into Hormex Liquid Concentrate before sticking it in water or your favorite rooting medium. Don’t waste time, or think you will take care of the broken stem later! Lost hours mean lost vigor and nobody needs that – root right away.

MAY
Avoid Overwatering
For more success in propagating flats of coleus, shrub cuttings, and anything else you are rooting outdoors in the shade, monitor rainfall and irrigation closely. Just as overwatering kills more container plants than any pest, saturated soil can spell doom for vulnerable cuttings. Roots and root hairs can be easily overwhelmed when too much water in the soil deprives them of the oxygen they must have to grow. Set up a simple bench that will elevate the propagation area above ground level and allow the containers to drain. I use 2 cement blocks with 3 2x4’s laid across them, but then my style does run towards the utilitarian. However you do it, do it and keep a plastic drape handy, too. You can control the rooting medium and your watering habits, but may need to stave off a summer rainstorm to keep from overwatering cuttings.

MAY
Blueberry Wisdom
If you have a wonderful old blueberry bush and want more of its superb fruit, why not propagate it? As long as it has no patent to protect it from your efforts, go ahead now and check the wood. New growth is soft, later it is called semi-hard, but the wood you want is between the two and usually happens about a month after the leaves are fully expanded. Read the entire blog for details, but use this tip when taking soft, semi-hard, or in-between cuttings of any plant: get them in the morning while they are fully hydrated to prevent wilting before the new roots appear.

MAY
Hormex Liquid and Healthy Transplants

It’s always a treat to add new annuals and perennials to the garden, or to start an entirely new bed as I am doing this year. However, the babies are usually growing in a very light potting mix and have lots of roots, sometimes to the point of being overgrown for their pots. Careful as you may be in transplanting, shock can be a big problem. Water in the newbies with 1 T Liquid Hormex/1 gal of water and use it weekly for a month. It got hot and rained hard the week after I transplanted a dozen stressed plants and they never missed a beat. The dwarf cleomes are blooming already!


MAY
Mother’s Lessons
When a cutting fails to root, consider whether the problem might be the age of the wood. I tried to get starts of the antique Scotch rose to grow a low hedge, but the tip cuttings were just too green. They wilted before they could root, even with a weekly drench of Liquid Hormex Concentrate. By taking cuttings from rather more mature wood, dipping each in Hormex #8, and rooting in ground bark, I was successful. My driveway now has a line of them that is so thick I use hedge shears to prune it. After all, I’m sure your mother taught you that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. My mother would add - just don’t make the same mistake twice. Happy Mother’s Day!

MAY
Rooting for Love
When someone gives you a plant and asks you to root it for them because it is the most precious plant in their collection, the pressure is on no matter whether it is a common plant or a real rarity. The goal in this case is to root English ivy, but it also applies to any vining ground cover like perennial vinca or jasmine. All will root in just a few weeks if you put their flats in the shade and water them weekly with Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed 1 T/1 gallon of water.

APR
Transplant Insurance
Since plants are mostly water, it makes sense that a new transplant needs water to prevent wilting. But exposure to the world outside its original container and plunging into new soil can be traumatic even with ample water at transplant time. That’s where Hormex Liquid Concentrate comes in, to work with the water to provide exactly what the roots need to get them growing. I have used other products and made my own compost tea to use as a root stimulator, but none of them can match the results of HLC. I call it transplant shock insurance, important to do on the front end to get plants up and growing.

APR
Hormones and Growth
All auxins are hormones, but not all hormones are auxins. The auxin known as IBA (indole-3-butyric acid) contributes to the formation and growth of healthy roots and is the substance in Hormex Rooting Powder. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) is the additional active ingredient in Hormex Liquid Concentrate. B-1 is a plant growth regulator produced naturally in leaves that moves into the roots to assist their growth. B-1 is always beneficial to plants. By adding B-1 and liquefying its hormone, Hormex Liquid Concentrate promotes thrifty growth at all stages in a plant’s development. Learn more in my blog at Hormex.com.

APR
Clever Rooting Pots

In an improvement over traditional air layering, Rooter Pots work very well to clone stems that are stout enough to support the device. The plastic or metal pots open up completely to enable you to enclose a section of stem while it is still attached to the tree. They hold a lightweight soil mix and have holes for drainage once they are closed around the stem. You keep them watered and open them for inspection after a few weeks to watch the progress. Once the roots are plentiful and long enough, it is time to cut the stem below the rooter, open it up and pot up the new tree or shrub.


APR
Root Hibiscus Today!
You know you love them – tropical hibiscus! Their iconic shape and papery flowers are a bit different from most tropicals. The easiest, most effective way I know to root my favorite double apricot bloomer is a little different, too. First, I do not use true tip cuttings. Instead, cut a sturdy stem no bigger around than a pencil with 8-12 inches of brown stem. Trim off green stems and all but 3 leaves. Slice a fresh diagonal cut through the lower end of the stem at a joint (or node) and roll that end in Hormex Rooting Powder #3. Stick the cutting 3 or 4 inches deep into a small pot of damp perlite or cluster a group of 5 stems into a tall quart sized pot.

MAR
Rooting from Stems and Leaves

Plants multiply in many ways, including some that can be propagated from leaves like African violets. Take a leaf with 2-4 inches of stem from the middle row of a mature plant. Roll that stem in Hormex Rooting Hormone #1 and stick it into a little pot of AV potting mix or damp sand. Keep it in humid shade until you see little plants at the base of the leaf. Pot it up, stem and all, or separate small plants and root them. Lay the babies on damp sand and mist frequently with Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed 10 drops/1 quart of water. When a new leaf sprouts, you’ve got roots.


MAR
Rooting Junipers

Many sources say that the best cuttings for small juniper shrubs are taken in late winter, but I have had better success in late March, or what is technically early spring. Juniper roots best from cuttings taken from wood that is one year old at the branch tips and has been exposed to at least some cold weather. In many areas, the coolest temperatures usually happen after the first of the year and often quite close to spring. Six inch long tips work well: strip the lower half of the cutting, roll it in Hormex Rooting Powder #3 and stick it in a damp mix of peat, sand, and perlite or a peat based potting mix such as Metro Mix. For more tips about rooting juniper, keep reading…


MAR
Sticking Camellias
When it’s time to get started, I take six inch long cuttings, strip the leaves off of the lower half of the cutting, make sure the lower stem is cut on a slant, roll it in Hormex Rooting Powder #3 and stick it into a damp mix of peat moss and sand or perlite. If those ingredients are not available, lightweight potting mix will do, but it must be well-watered before use and requires close attention to watering. I like to root camellias and other woody plants in small plastic pots, usually recycled 4 inch containers that have been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water.

MAR
Cereus, or Not
Sometimes the gift of a cutting can seal the deal on a new garden friendship. Last weekend I spoke at the Gulf Coast Garden and Patio Show and had a booth for three days. Across the aisle was a nursery I didn’t know with an eclectic plant selection – perfect eye candy for me. Even better, the people were smart and friendly and we talked plants all weekend. Sunday afternoon one offered me a cutting that he said was a ‘white, day-blooming cereus’ and asked if I had one. I said no and thanked him for his generosity, not for the plant, as that is rumored to be bad luck.

FEB
Orchids from Aerial Cuttings
Orchid plants can sprout aerial shoots on back bulbs that lack leaves. Small plants develop there, especially if the plants are stressed by overwatering or drought. The canes can fail to bloom and may produce small plants where you would expect flower buds. In about 3 months, you can remove the plant with back bulb and pot it up. The roots that form in air must be nurtured in the transition to life in soil, so those new potted orchids will benefit from weekly watering with Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed 1 teaspoon to a gallon of water.

FEB
Propagating Orchids
Making divisions is one of several ways to propagate orchids and it is better done in spring with hopes of new flowers in one year. Gently slip the orchid to be divided out of its pot onto a bench or tray. If it is difficult to get the rootball out of its pot, break the pot rather than wrench the roots. Shake off any loose soil and inspect the plant for obvious places to make divisions that will yield strong shoots and plenty of roots for each one. It’s best to get a strong mess of roots, at least one new shoot and 2-3 backbulbs in each division. Use a sharp, single-bladed knife to slice straight through the crown tissue and roots in one motion. Soak the bare root orchid plant in a solution of Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed at 1 teaspoon per gallon of water before planting.

FEB
Rooting Roses
When you prune roses this year, try rooting some. Make cuttings pencil-thick or slightly less, six inches long and cut above one node and below another. Cut the upper end straight across and cut the lower end on a slant to expose more stem and so you don’t stick them upside down. If leaves are present, remove them from the lower half of the cutting, dip it in Hormex, and stick it into damp media such as well-drained potting mix. Oh, and don’t forget to label the cuttings with name and date. Trust me; you’ll forget which is which.

FEB
Prune and Root
Rooting figs and other woody plants often happens because we prune the plants and cannot resist trying to start another one. I played in the yard while my grandmother cut back the French hydrangeas on a warm day in February. To keep the bushes under the windows, she cut back some of the stems fairly hard each year, while on the others, she just trimmed the tips to retain the flowers. Almost absentmindedly, she trimmed each long, woody stem to 8-12 inches long, stuck it into the soil next to its parent, and walked away. Most rooted. Since then, I’ve rooted figs, grapes, and even crepe myrtles using this method. But I add one important step that increases my success rate considerably. I put a little Hormex rooting hormone powder into an envelope and carry it with me when I prune. I dip each new cutting into Hormex, and recommend that you do, too.

FEB
A Simple Setup
Here’s my uncomplicated take on setting up a rooting bench indoors. Fill flats or small cells with a soilless, fine-textured media such as Metro Mix and water them thoroughly. On the bench, roll out a heating mat made for propagation. On top of that, put a plastic tray that is at least an inch deep and nestle the flats of rooting media into the tray. I dip the base of each cutting into a little bowl of full strength Hormex liquid concentrate before inserting it into the media. This setup lets me provide bottom heat and water the flats from the bottom by filling the tray. I use plastic boxes with vents on top of the flats to keep humidity levels up around both cuttings and seedlings. A grow light fixture with energy efficient, full spectrum bulbs on a timer hangs over the setup.

JAN
Rooting Media
While this title may make some chuckle with thoughts of cloning journalists, the word ‘media’ in this case simply refers to more than one kind of material, or medium. The term ‘medium’ is used when no actual soil is present in the material used to root or grow plants. Now I’ll confess that I do root woody plants like fig and hydrangea by simply sticking them into the ground next to the parent tree or shrub, but that’s a blog for another day.

JAN
Very Kind Cuts
To cut is to wound, and the natural tendency of a wounded organism is to do what is necessary to survive. When propagation occurs, it is because of the plant’s innate response to the wound even if we would like to think the plant wills itself to create future generations to sustain the environment. If that were so, propagation outcomes would be predictable but they are not. Depending on what kind of cutting you make, a liquid or powder Hormex product can be your best ally in the process. Choose powdered Hormex for woody plant cuttings taken from tips and stems, and use liquid Hormex for beds of root cuttings and canes laid sideways in a flat or pot. Green plant cuttings of any sort can be dipped in powder or soaked in liquid Hormex or watered with it.

JAN
Slanted Advice
No matter what kind of cutting you take, the choice of material and the kind of cut can make the difference in outcomes. I know that in horticulture as in life, rules are made to be bent and broken at times, but here’s one to etch in stone: Every kind of cutting will root better when you use a sharp, single blade and make the cut on a slant just before you put it into the rooting media. That leaves the plant’s ‘pipes’ wide open to prevent dehydration and increases the surface area that can root. If you prefer to use shears or scissors on the plant, or if you plan to root clippings from pruned plants, recut each stem to the appropriate length with a sharp, single-bladed knife, dip its base into a Hormex solution or roll it in Hormex rooting powder, and then stick the cutting into fresh, moist media.


JAN
Why Not Root All Plants in Water?
Why don’t we stick every plant into a cup of water to root it? The answer is twofold. Many green plants and some woody ones will root in water. However, most woody plants cannot survive pure water for long. In addition, the roots created in water are often adventitious, which means thin and rather fragile. They develop with no resistance and can be unprepared for the rigors of life in garden soil. By rooting in other media such as sand, vermiculite, or a host of prepared mixes, and by using the appropriate Hormex product to encourage the process, the plants you root will be sturdier by far.