Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
November, 2009
Regional Report

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A pastry container makes a great chamber for rooting a few cuttings.

Easy, Economical Rooting Chambers

Gardeners are an enterprising, creative group and are forever coming up with great, innovative ideas. If you are wanting to root a few cuttings this fall and don't want to invest in an elaborate rooting setup, you can create a simple rooting chambers from common household and homemade containers.

Clear Plastic Soft Drink Bottles
Cut a clear plastic soft drink bottle into two sections about 3 to 4 inches up from the base. Punch holes with a nail in each of the "bumps" in the base for drainage. Cut a few vertical slits in the top portion (use scissors to cut upward a few inches from the bottom cut edge of the top section of the bottle) to make "flaps". These flaps will slide down over the base an inch or so to hold the top on. Fill the base with a rooting mix. The cap can usually be left off of the top of the bottle, or may be placed on to hold in moisture better.

Clear Plastic Bakery Boxes
Those hinged containers for pastries or cakes make great rooting chambers. Punch holes in the base and fill with rooting mix. The top can be snapped down over small low growing cuttings such as ivy or trailing herbs. Or, for taller cuttings select two cake or pie covers and punch holes in one for a base. Use the other for the top and attach them with a couple of pieces of tape.

Zip-Close Bags
A 1- or 2-gallon bag filled one-fourth to one-third full with moist rooting mix makes a great mini propagation chamber. Zip the bag almost completely shut and blow into the bag to fill with air. Then zip shut to hold in moisture. Holes may be punched in the base of the bag or you can simply cut a tiny piece off of the bottom corners off with scissors.

Small Plant Pots
Almost any small plant container will work. If it is a used container dip it in a bleach water (10% bleach and 90% water) solution for a minute first to kill any disease organisms. I like to use a 4-inch pot with a baggie placed over the top and secured with a rubber band. Small plastic or terra cotta pots placed inside a large zip-close bag also work great.

New cuttings need to have good light but not direct sunlight. Protect them from freezing temperatures. A north-facing window indoors is a good location. A bright porch also works well.

It helps to get specific advice about the species that you want to root. Should you select tender succulent shoots or semi-hardwood sections a bit further down the stem? What time of the year or of the growth cycle is best? Roses, for example, root best from shoots taken below old blooms that have faded.

This fall try your hand at propagating a few of your favorite landscape plants. With so many easy options I think you'll find it is not as difficult as you might think.

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