Inspired by a plant in the neighborhood, I decided to try my hand a propagating plants via cuttings a few weeks ago. It’s a great technique to know, as most herbs are best propagated by cuttings rather than seeds. I’d been reluctant to try though, because I heard it was very hard. You absolutely can’t let cuttings dry out — they have no roots at first! Well, I thought, Orta pots solve this problem for seedlings, maybe they’ll work for cuttings too . . .
I took six cuttings from a big hardy perennial that grows happily all over my neighborhood. I’m not sure what it’s really called, but I call it Library Plant, because there is a lot of it growing out front of the local library. It has big pretty purple and pink flowers in a cone shape, and seems to do well with neglect, which means it might survive on our non-irrigated parking strip (if it survives the propagation process first).
The picture below is me planting the cuttings with rooting hormone into a Deep Six seed starter on July 16th. (I followed the great tutorial at Root Simple, here.) You can see that the lower left cutting had just six leaves when I planted it. The picture above is of the same cutting now, about three weeks later, and it has 12 leaves! So far all six cuttings are still alive, with 5 of them sporting new growth.
I also tried propagating a chocolate mint plant. Chocolate mint is like peppermint, in that it doesn’t grow true from seed. You have to clone it with cuttings. Reading about mints, it seemed that they’re very easy to propagate, even without rooting hormone. So I did an experiment and used rooting hormone on only half the cuttings. You can see the result, below (rooting hormone on the left, no hormone on the right). The ones without the hormone are smaller, and only 2 out of 3 survived. The ones with hormone are all thriving and ready for transplant.
Inspired by these successes, I planted a dozen more cuttings yesterday. Pictures and details about planting cuttings after the break.
Preparing a cutting to be planted. Remove all but the topmost leaves of the cutting, moisten the stem then dip in rooting hormone. (It’s a good idea to use a plate instead of dipping the stem into the jar to avoid contaminating the jar.)