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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
South Shore News

Here are more tips for successful rooting of cuttings

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: April 9, 2013 at 07:30 PM

Iím still learning something new about cuttings all the time.

The plants that root easiest can do so in water Ė coleus, ivy, geraniums and basil.

But once the roots get about Ĺ inch long, take them out and plant them in soil, because water roots are not as sturdy as roots formed in soil, and they break off in transplanting if they are too long. I only learned this recently.

My friend and publisher, Betty Mackey, discovered that if she was rooting a plant that had proved difficult, she would put it near cuttings that root easily, like coleus. Somehow, it helps the other one to root. I donít know why, but it does.

I keep all of my cuttings in the shade until they root, but recently I took two batches of pentas cuttings Ė which usually root easily. The one I put in the least shade rooted much better than the other. Iíll remember that with pentas the next time.

When I was in college, we had a mist system over the cuttings that gave them a fine spray of water for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. It was a real shock if you happened to be standing there when the water came on, but it kept the cuttings turgid and kept them from wilting. They rooted quicker and more reliably.

Many nurserymen have this kind of a system and are able to root cuttings from difficult plants like pipevine, which I canít root without a mister.

There are some plants that canít be rooted by cuttings: silver dollar eucalyptus, queenswreath or Petrea, my long-lost Vireya. I tried several times. I knew one or two people who said they could do it. But for most of us, itís just frustration.

Plants like the zzplant, a fairly popular foliage plant, and most of the gingers have compound leaves with many leaflets, but the stem node is at its base or under the ground. These cannot be rooted but can be propagated by division.

The roots develop at the nodes, where the leaves come out. But tomatoes root all along the stem. There may be a few others that do that but none that I know of. When you plant tomatoes, plant them deeply and you will get a stronger root system.

Sometimes with plants that Iím sure will root easily, I pinch the top off so when it starts to make new growth, itíll grow with two or three stems on top instead of just one, which is another way of early pruning for a more compact plant.

If anyone else has other tips for rooting cuttings, please let me know and Iíll pass them on.

Todayís pick is the Cuban buttercup or white Turnera, a small, sprawling shrub with many lovely blooms throughout the warm months. The flowers are white with a black center surrounded by a yellow ring. The flowers only stay open from about 9 a.m. until noon or so, but they are so lovely that you have to forgive them. Stem cuttings root easily. This is one of my favorite flowers. There is also a yellow buttercup or yellow alder that grows a bit larger and the flowers stay open all day.

Nowís the time Ö to mulch well. Even dryer times and longer, hotter days are ahead, and we need to keep in all the moisture we can. Mulch also keeps the weeds down. Itís the best thing you can to for your plants.

Keep watering as needed but donít overdo. Itís amazing how well so many plants live almost on humidity. Be sure to water containers and newly set plants until they settle.

?Upcoming event: The Town & Country Garden Circle will have its 10th annual plant sale on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Jackson Springs Recreation Center, 8620 Jackson Springs Road, Tampa. This year itís adding a Gourmet Food Truck

Rally and a Gardening Expo with vendors on hand to answer questions about your yard or plants. Some will be conducting demos of products.†There will be a playground to entertain the kids.†No admission charge. Come rain or shine.

If you go to the above event, take your broken or dull garden tools: hoes, shovels, loppers, clippers, scissors, saws, etc.†Bill Herbert and his wife, Rachel, will be

fixing and sharpening throughout the day. He has done this for me and is very good and reasonable. If you canít get to the plant sale, you can contact him at his

home in Thonotosassa. Call for directions: (813) 986-1568.†I see him almost every week at church at St. Francis of Assisi in Seffner and take my tools to him there.†Work is much easier with sharp tools.


?Monica Brandies is an experienced gardener, author and freelance writer who can be reached at monicabrandies@yahoo.com. Her website is www.gardensflorida.com.

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