Plant propagation is creating new plants from existing plants, this can be done using seeds, bulbs, taking cuttings from existing plants, and dividing roots. Taking cuttings is by far the easiest way to propagate. The first step should always be choosing a strong and healthy plant to take cuttings from as new plants grown from these cuttings will take on the characteristics of the parent plant. This is one main advantage cuttings have over propagating from seeds which can be a bit unpredictable. Like seed propagation, cuttings require warm and moist conditions and adequate ventilation. The pot or container should be covered at first with a clear plastic cover, or it can be placed in a propagator. Heated and unheated propagators are very useful for plant propagation from cuttings earlier in the season, they result in a more efficient vegetable garden as plants are protected from pests in their early stages of growth. Cuttings for propagation can be taken from an existing plant's leaf, root, or stem.
Taking stem cuttings is the most popular way of propagating ornamental plants and woody shrubs. Choose the healthiest stem to take a cutting from, preferably one with no buds on it. A stem cutting is taken (3-6 inches depending on the size of the plant), the leaves are removed from the bottom, (leave the leaves towards the top attached) and it is placed in a good seedling compost in a pot or container until roots have developed. Rooting hormones and gels are widely available for the cut ends to makes them heal faster.
A leaf cutting is propagated in much the same way as stem cuttings, it is cut carefully from a plant, planted in compost and watered thoroughly. With leaf cuttings a leaf and it's stem or even just a piece of the leaf are used for propagating. Take leaf cuttings from the healthier and more productive plants in the garden and use the healthiest looking leaf for your cutting. Pick a leaf that is fully grown and free of any pests or disease and cut it with around two inches of it's stem. Dip stems in rooting hormones or gel and plant in a pot with the tip of the leaf pointing outward. This method especially suits houseplants as well as herbaceous and woody plants. Another method of leaf cutting is called Leaf Vein Cuttings. This is where a leaf is cut into sections, each section containing a vein. The leaf can be then placed into the soil or compost with the cut vein side pointing down. Leaf vein cutting is great for propagating many plants from one.
Root cutting works like the other methods but by cutting a section of the root of an existing plant. The root should be cut in the plant's dormant season. This root cutting will then grow and eventually form it's own shoots and root system, some plants form the root system first and others produce a shoot first. This method of propagating plants is better suited to fruit plants like blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry as well as sumacs, lilacs, etc. Cut a section of the root about 3 to 6 inches long, again choose a section that is as healthy looking as it gets. When cutting the root make a straight cut on the end nearest the crown and a diagonal cut on the other end. Root cuttings should then be stored in a cool location for about 3 weeks in a rooting medium. When planting make sure to have the end with the diagonal cut pointing up. This method is usually reserved for outdoor use only.
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