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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
propagating holiday cactus with leaf cuttings

Clone Your Plants


Do you have an annual flower in your garden this year that you especially like and want to use again next summer? You might be able to clone it using vegetative propagation methods.

I have a coleus plant that I particularly like in my patio containers. Each fall I take a few cuttings from the plants and grow them on my kitchen windowsill for use next spring.

If you are an avid gardener, you probably noticed that some plant tags indicate that the plant is patented and thus can't be propagated. This is true of many of the newer types of coleus. In other words, you can't propagate the patented plant by cuttings or division to sell.

To get started, you'll need containers, a sterile cutting tool, soil, and a makeshift greenhouse. The container could be anything. I often use disposable cups. Use a good, sterile rooting media that is pre-moistened. I suggest purchasing a premixed potting soil. For best results, create a "greenhouse" for the new plants to grow in until they are well established. I typically use zip lock bags or the little plastic zipper bags that curtains come in. Place your new plant starts in indirect light, opening the bag slightly to provide ventilation without losing humidity inside the bag.

Division is the easiest way to propagate houseplants that form clumps such as ferns, mother-in-law's tongue, African violets, spider plants, philodendron, pothos, and more. Simply knock the plant out of its pots and pull the sections apart with your hands. Tough roots sometimes must be cut apart with a kitchen knife. Repot the divisions immediately, add water and watch your "new" plants grow.

Cuttings are very simple and made a number of ways. Stem cuttings are taken from the ends of branches. Simply remove 3 or 4 inches of the terminal or end growth just below a node (leaf joint). Some common plant started this way are coleus, geranium, ivy, begonia, and many of the philodendrons. Simply insert the node of a stem into loose potting soil, water, and watch it grow.

Learn more at the University of Illinois Extension Houseplant website at http://extension.illinois.edu/houseplants/.

Consider hosting a plant cloning party this fall. Cloning plants is fun and a great way to share plants among family and friends.



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