Many gardeners love to collect plants. Many of you have pinched stems off a plant when no one was looking! You know who you are! My mother was one of those people. If she was at the old Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, now Legoland, she was sure to have her large purse. She loved starting plants and loved growing them even more. We do recommend you ask before taking a cutting. We wouldn’t want anyone getting in trouble! Those of you that root plants at home, know the challenges and the rewards. Trial and error are how most gardeners learn. Here are some shortcut tips to assure you succeed.
Snipping cuttings during the heat of the day is not always conducive for successful rooting of cuttings. To ensure rooting success you will want to take the cutting when the plant is turgid. Turgid means it is internally full of water. Plants take up water through the roots and then the water moves up the stems and out of the leaves. The water exits as vapors through tiny holes called stomata. Loss of water vapor through the leaves is called transpiration. If a cutting loses the water within the stem before it roots, it will not likely ever root. Since transpiration mostly shuts down at night, take cutting early morning before the sun hits the leaves and capture the maximum water in the plant stem.
Making sure the water remains in the stem is the key. Once you snip a cutting, you will want to get it in some moist soil quickly. If you took the cutting with a sharp clean implement, the stem will be able to take more water up to replace what it loses out of the leaves. This loss of water out of the leaves can also be slowed down. First by rooting the plant in filtered light or shade and not letting it be in the full sun. secondly, it is very important to minimize the number of leaves that you leave on the cutting. A stem cutting should not be more than 6 inches long and have more than a couple leaves left on. Exceptionally large leaves can be cut in half and you may want only one leaf.
UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County, is offering a class on easy tips for home plant propagation. You will learn more techniques to help you root cuttings at home as well as some other methods of propagation. The class is Oct. 9, in conference room two of the Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center at 4509 George Blvd. in Sebring. The class will also be offered through Zoom online. Sign in is at 9:30 a.m. and the class runs from 10 a.m. until noon. For instructions on how to register for the class call the Extension office at 863-402-6540. That’s the latest from the Hometown Gardener. To keep up with horticulture in Florida’s heartland follow me on Facebook at Hometown Gardener.