If you think you don’t have a green thumb, you could be seriously mistaken. Growing from cuttings is a great way to start gardening!
I held the tiny stem and leaves in my hand. The green and violet shimmer from the Wandering Jew cutting and the promise of it becoming a new plant was exciting. For years I watched my parents in the garden without really paying attention. But now my appetite for gardening was awakened.
There is a science to growing plants from cuttings, but it is also an art. I was a new gardener, yet I was not fully aware of that. I was just having fun. Gardening came slowly for me. Because I didn’t write a list of gardening goals, or have a class assignment to fulfill, I was free to relax and enjoy growing plants. Suddenly, visiting nurseries was like being a child in a candy store. Reading how to gardening books was like reading a thrilling novel.
How cool is it to watch a glass jar and see a cut stem grow roots? And then to plant it and watch new stems and leaves grow until it is a beautiful plant? What a thrill to wake up in the morning and find new leaves!
Why Grow Plants From Cuttings?
Aside from the fun factor, propagating cuttings gives you new plants to keep, sell or give away. Don’t forget the money saving aspect–new plants for the price of soil and fertilizer. It is also a great (and inexpensive) hands-on science activity for kids of any age.
How to Grow New Plants
My coworker gave me very simple instructions for rooting the Wandering Jew stem she gave me. She simply told me to remove the lower leaves—any leaves that would be under the water line, and put the stem in water. When there are a lot of roots, plant it gently in potting soil. Within a few months, I filled my bay window with plants grown from cuttings that friends gave me. I had not bought a single plant. Soon I was sharing cuttings too. I learned later that some cuttings root just fine if they are planted directly into soil. Others need rooting hormone applied before planting. Some just can’t be rooted.
Gardening is Like Becoming a Child Again
A child’s first encounter with painting is mostly experimentation with colors and textures and shapes. If kids in kindergarten were required to study the masters, the enjoyment of art would quickly dissipate. If you’re new to gardening, rooting cuttings is a good way to feed the gardening bug. The bigger your desire to understand and grow beautiful things, the more energy you’ll have for the hard work and science of gardening. I love The Magic School Bus, especially Miss Frizzle’s philosophy to “get dirty, get messy!” Today that’s my recommendation. Your homework–cut two or three plants likely to root and put them in water.
The next few articles on propagating plants will delve into the science and other techniques, but gently enough to keep the joy of gardening alive for those new to gardening.
Easiest Plants to Root in Water
Keep in mind that some plants are more complicated to propagate. If you choose from the list below, your first experience will be more positive. The plants on this list can be rooted in water.
(1) Cut off leaves that will be under the water line, but be sure there are leaves on the plant.
(2) Cut the stem diagonally under a node (the spot where leaves grow).
(3) Place in water.
(4) Check water level every day. Add water to keep it at around the same level.
(5) Watch for roots. If the plant begins to break down, it won’t root. Throw it away and begin with another stem. You’re more likely to see little buds appear, then little hair-like strands.
(6) Change the water if it begins to get cloudy.
(7) When the stem has more than two or three main roots, plant gently in potting soil: Scoop out a space for the roots in the pot and place a little pile of soil in the center of the space. Place the roots around the pile and gently cover them.
(8) Water new plant.
Tell us which plants you’ve been able to root in water. Also, your questions are welcome!