I’m going to need a lot of nice flowering plants. The Junior Service League garden tour is scheduled for April 28 and all of the urns and flower beds will have to look really good. I usually don’t even start the planting until the first of May because of the variable weather patterns in the North Georgia hills. Patsy’s going to love this.
I have access to a greenhouse, however. Due to health and other issues, I haven’t used the greenhouse for the last couple of years but when I found out about the garden tour last October, I decided to clean up the greenhouse and to save a lot of Dragon Wing begonias that would have ordinarily gone to the trash pile. As we changed out annual color last year, I saved a number of the begonias and potted them up to use this spring. Last week (march 7), they looked like this: (if you are following these instructions at home, you don’t need a greenhouse, just a warm, well-lit area)
The situation is multi-faceted. I need about thirty really nice plants to plant in the urns around the pools and at doorways. I also need quite a few smaller plants to use in extensive flower bed plantings. My strategy will be to get the plants ready in the greenhouse and to do the planting at the last minute. The job is to clean up and prune the existing plants so that they will grow out big and to make some new ones. The two jobs go well together. We start with some careful cutting.
I am cutting as a pruning process that will make the plant branch out and shape right, but I am also looking for just the right size of tips to root for new plants. A desirable tip will look like this:
To prepare the tip for rooting, pinch off any blooms and a lower leaf or two.
A rooting hormone is not a necessity, the cuttings will root without it, but using the hormone will provide quicker, healthier results. The main ingredient that I search the label for is “indole 3 butyric acid.” This is a growth hormone and it may be found in liquid or powdered formulations. I found it at a garden center.
We dip the cutting in the powder to coat the fresh cut end.
The cuttings are then stuck in moist potting soil. I used Hyponex moisture control potting soil this time, but any other high quality preparation will do. You can actually use clean sand and get really good results.
I like to use nursery flats to stick the cuttings in. I get 40 to 50 cuttings per tray. A flower pot will work well if you are only doing a few cuttings.
As we take cuttings for new plants, we also clean any old stems and bad leaves from the larger plants. I want to encourage the new spring growth to come from the bottom of the plant. This will give much better shape and durability.
After sticking a number of cuttings in the rooting medium, I use a gentle spray of water to wash the soil in around the base of the plants and to wet the leaves.
.The cuttings are fully prepared at this time. They should be placed in a bright location-but not in full sun. I suggest misting the plants lightly once or twice a day. Be careful not to over water them, though. Misting works best in the morning. The leaves should be dry at night to reduce the incidence of fungal infections. The rooted cuttings should be ready for pots in two or three weeks.
The plants that we will grow out for specimens have now been totally cleaned and they look like this:
You can use this method for rooting cuttings with many different plants. Geraniums, begonias, impatiens, and many more plants will respond readily.
I hope you enjoyed the article. I’ll bet you will also enjoy my novel
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