Plant propagation is a way of forming a new plant from an existing plant. All you have to do is to take a piece of a bigger plant and start growing another one from it.
Besides just because it is exciting to grow your own houseplants from a single stem or leaf, there are more reasons to propagate your plants.
Different plants can be cultivated in differing ways, specific to the plant type, so it's ideal to know what type of plants you want to propagate.
Here are the proper techniques for each type of propagation:
PROPAGATE WITH DIVIDING
Dig the plant up when the flowers have faded. Shake the soil from the roots. Break the plant into several pieces. The divisions should follow natural points on the plant (at nodes, or between leaves etc.). The important thing is to make sure each divided piece has shoots and roots on it. Replant each piece in good soil in a pot or sheltered garden bed and water thoroughly.
To divide a multi-stemmed houseplant, first remove the plant from its pot. Press your thumbs into the middle of the plant, grab the plant with both hands, and tug it apart. If this doesn't work, remove the soil and try again. If that fails, cut the plant with a knife.
Keep a large clump of roots with each division. Immediately pot the new plants in potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist for the next few weeks to help heal the injured roots.
Place plants out of direct light until they start to grow. Move them into brighter light over a period of 10 days.
PROPAGATE WITH CUTTINGS
Select a suitable pot for your cutting. You might want to use a normal-sized flowerpot for one plant or you can even establish several cuttings in the same pot, planted apart from each other.
Prepare the pot. Get a plastic (polythene) bag and place gravel at the base of the bag. The pot will be placed in here after you have made the cutting. Fill the pot with suitable soil; sand and peat for drainage make an ideal combination for many plants. Finally, the pot must be able to drain well (the water will go onto the gravel, rather than pooling in the plastic bag)
Cut a firm, young shoot from the current season's growth. Cut it off just below a leaf or joint
Once you have cut the plant piece, strip or cut off any leaves on the lower half. You can strip or cut off as high as two-thirds if necessary. If the bark looks like it will tear, use scissors. You can also make a small incision to the lower end of the stem to encourage root growth from this "wound".
Insert the cutting into the pot. Use a skewer, pencil, or similar long object to create a hole for the cutting to sit in. Do not use the cutting itself to push in a hole or you will damage it. The idea is to gently drop the cutting into the hole.
Place both the pot and the cutting into the bag. Make sure the pot is sitting snugly on the gravel.
Tie the top of the bag with a twist tie. This makes it easy to undo for watering and to place back on again.
Final Steps for Both Methods
Keep the soil moist. Do not soak or over-water the cutting or divided plant or it may rot and not take root. Water spray works well for many plants but take care with succulent and furry leaves. They are best only watered directly at the soil level, otherwise the combination of humidity and water may encourage fungal growth
Pull the cutting or divided plant gently in about 6 - 8 weeks. If you can feel resistance, you'll know there are roots. Most plants will root within 6 - 8 weeks, although some species of plants can take up to 12 months.
PROPAGATE WITH AIR LAYERING
Make an upward cut into the stem just below a node at a point where you'd like new roots to grow. Cut halfway through the stem. Place toothpick or matchstick into the cut to keep it open. Dust area with rooting hormone powder.
Place moist moss around the cut and secure it with plastic. Wrap wire twists at top and bottom. Mist moss regularly. When roots are thick, cut stem several inches below original cut and pot.
PROPAGATE WITH WATER
Water propagation is the easiest way to propagate your plants. Place a cutting in a jar of cool water and wait until white roots start presenting themselves. When the roots get to be about a half-inch long, remove from the water and plant in potting soil. If you wait too long, the roots will not acclimate to soil because they will have come to believe they are water plants.
PROPAGATE WITH SEED
Growing plants from seed is a great way to start gardening. With the right light and some simple equipment, it's easy to grow from seed to harvest. You can start seeds in almost any type of container with drainage holes. Choose potting soil that's made for growing seedlings. Do not use soil from your garden or re-use potting soil from your houseplants. Start with a fresh, sterile mix that will ensure healthy, disease-free seedlings.
Before filling your containers, use a bucket or tub to moisten the planting mix. The goal is to get it moist but not sopping wet. Fill the containers and pack the soil firmly to eliminate gaps.
Check the seed packet to see how deep you should plant your seeds. Some of the small ones can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. For insurance, plant two seeds per cell or pot. If both seeds germinate, snip one and let the other grow. It's helpful to make a couple divots in each pot to accommodate the seeds. After you've dropped a seed in each divot, you can go back and cover the seeds.
Moisten the newly planted seeds with a watering can. To speed germination, cover the pots with plastic wrap or a plastic dome that fits over the seed-starting tray. This helps keep the seeds moist before they germinate. When you see the first signs of green, remove the cover.
As the seedlings grow, use a mister or a small watering can to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the soil dry slightly between watering. Set up a fan to ensure good air movement and prevent disease. Remember to feed the seedlings regularly with liquid fertilizer, mixed at the rate recommended on the package.
Seedlings need a lot of light. If you're growing in a window, choose a south-facing exposure. Rotate the pots regularly to keep plants from leaning into the light. If seedlings don't get enough light, they will be leggy and weak. As the seedlings grow taller, raise the lights.
Plants can be propagated all year round, but spring and summer are the ideal seasons. The active growing season gives the best changes that the cutting will grow strong healthy roots.
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