The Q&A Archives: How To Root Plants

Question: I am interested in rooting several plants from my yard. I would like to know what the procedure is and what type of soil and etc.

Answer: Sometimes different plants will propagate more easily from one method over another, such as starting from seed, or from cuttings. Since specifically mentioned rooting, but you also checked the category of Seed Starting, I'll give you a variety of info.

Taking a softwood cutting of new growth that is not yet firm is a common propagation method that works for many plants. Cuttings should be about two inches long, with two-three pairs of leaves at the top of the stem. Insert the cuttings into a soilless mix, just up to the lowest leaves. Rooting hormone may be used, but is not essential. It helps to pinch off the growing tip, which helps force more roots. If possible, place the cuttings in a covered environment (a mini greenhouse) and provide bottom heat. Although it's not always possible to get new growth cuttings in November.

Here's another similar method. Semi-ripe cuttings are taken in mid- to late-summer from the current season's growth that has begun to firm. The cutting's base should be quite hard, while the tip should be growing and still soft. Use 2 1/2 - 4 inches, and remove side shoots. Make a shallow wound on the stem by cutting away a thin piece of bark (1/2 inch long). This stimulates rooting. Dip in a rooting hormones and insert in a soilless potting mix. Provide a humid environment.

As seeds begin to turn brown and fall off, hold a paper bag or container underneath and tap dry seeds into it. Or, tie paper bags over the flowerheads to catch falling seeds. Punch a few holes in the bag to provide circulation. Another way is to wait until about 10 percent of the seeds are brown and falling off. Then cut the entire flowerhead and stem, place it upside down in a paper bag, hang it in a cool, dry location and let the seeds separate on their own.

Collect seeds on dry, sunny days to avoid any excess moisture. If needed, dry seeds completely on sheets of newspaper for a week or so. Dispose of stems and leaves. A screen or colander works well to remove chaff. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator until sowing. Sow in a soilless mix and keep moist until germination occurs. Bottom heat is often helpful, as well as a humid environment. I hope this info helps!

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