Wilderness Underfoot: Growing plants from cuttings

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StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11394304144826.jpg’, ”, ‘In our region, willows may be the easiest cuttings to grow – They readily sprout roots in damp soil or water. Simply cut off a length of stem that includes several buds or small branches. You can trim off the branches or leave them for added character. Plant the stem in a pot filled with indoor plant soil. Water lightly, and then enclose it in a clear plastic bag (this serves as a greenhouse, holding moisture so your plant doesn’t dry out before its roots form). Within a matter of days, the stem will send out roots, and then young buds will open. Once the roots have sunk into the soil, you can remove the bag. Make sure the soil doesn’t become too dry while the young plant is establishing itself. Willows eventually need to be taken outdoors because they don’t survive long indoors. If you don’t want a potted plant, simply cut several stems and put them in a vase with water. They’ll sprout leaves and roots, and survive for several weeks.’);

Here’s a fun indoor nature activity for families impatient to see the new growth of spring

If winter’s dreariness has you yearning for the budding of green leaves and blossoms, you can get a jump on spring by bringing plant cuttings indoors and watching them come to life.

Cuttings are plant parts that can be used to make new plants. A cutting may come from leaves, stems or roots, depending on the species. After a cutting is placed in moist soil or water, its natural rooting hormones take over, and it forms new roots. Then it sends out new shoots and leaves. Plants created in this way are actually clones.

Among the easiest plants to grow from cuttings are forsythia, various kinds of rose, honeysuckle, grape, ivy, currant, dogwood and—perhaps the most dependable of all—the willow.

Many indoor house plants can also be propagated from cuttings. Vines are especially well-adapted to taking root after they’ve been chopped or broken. The spider plant, which provides ready-to-grow miniature plants all along its hanging vines, is easy to reproduce. Other dependable house plants are coleus, figs, geraniums, begonias, and most kinds of cane plants. You can also try any kind of cactus that forms knobby new branches.

For most of these plants, the growing technique described at the right is suitable. To ensure your success, pick up a small container of rooting hormone powder at any garden supply center. It encourages cuttings to root.

From the Feb. 8-15, 2006, issue

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