Learn How to Propagate the Garden

How to Propagate the garden with ease

A few days ago, I shared how you could move a garden and today I’m putting that idea into action through propagation.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve been playing with this concept for the purpose of expanding my garden and the results have been amazing.  Through my experience of trial and error I found this to be my favorite garden activity.

It’s pretty crazy but I really look forward to spring and fall not for planting new seeds but because it’s the best time of year to propagate existing plants.  If you live in areas where winters are light it’s possible to continue the process if temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees.

Propagating tools

Necessary Supplies for Propagation

  • Begin with small containers 4 and 6 inch pots are a good place to begin.
  • Hand tools like a simple spade would work just fine, check out mine here.
  • For Larger plants, you may need a big garden shovel.
  • A good pair of clippers.
  • Fertilized soil – this can come right from the garden.

How to Propagate the garden

Two Types of Propagation

There are two ways I propagate and understand that other gardeners may do things completely different and that’s okay. I prefer to apply natural techniques like using fertilized soil to activate new root growth instead of purchasing products like root hormone.

Propagation in my garden begins with two types of perennial plants – Single root base and creepers.  A single root base plant would be like a rose bush, rosemary, sage, lantana, asters and so on.  These are beautiful plants where cuttings are used to root. We’ll go into further detail in a moment.

The other would be the creepers, they grow out in width with shoots and if you’re not careful they can take over a space pretty quickly if growing conditions are good. For that reason, many gardeners prefer to plant creepers in containers to control their growth.  These types of plants would include, thyme, mint, lemon balm, clematis, ivy, strawberries, lily and so on.  These are propagated by breaking up the base of the plant and dividing into smaller pieces.

I like to do both but I have to say taking a cutting is a lot easier and less stressful for the plant.

Let’s Review

  • Propagate in the Spring and Fall when temperatures are between 50 – 70 degrees
  • Gather necessary supplies
  • Identify creepers vs. single root plants
  • Work with fertilized soil

Prior to propagating make sure this activity is taking place early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are mild. Make sure the soil is moist from previous watering and don’t be in a hurry.  When the conditions are good the transition will be less irritating for the plant.  This is important and will have an impact on the outcome.

How to Propagate Sage

Propagate with Cuttings

This plant is sage, you can view the foundation plant above or get a better view here.  I purchased this in a 4 inch pot about a year ago and it’s an absolute beauty with remarkable growth. Sage is full of health benefits so I like to cook with it often and sometimes use it in floral arrangements. Propagation is a breeze; it’s a matter of taking short cuttings using clippers and placing them in pots with well fertilized soil.

Cuttings will vary based on the size of existing plants so don’t over think it.  You can root the woody stems, just peel off the outer stem shell before adding it to the soil.  Another option is to use softer stem cuttings for quicker rooting results.  In reality you should allow at least a month for root activity to appear.

Caring for the Cuttings

  • Once the cutting is placed in the pot set on a tray in the shade.
  • Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out for the next 48 hours.
  • The leaves may wilt – it’s OKAY!! Remove them after about a week if they don’t come back and continue to keep the plant in a shaded area with at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
  • After a month, move these cuttings into more sunlight and continue to water as needed.
  • Lightly feed a liquid fertilizer every other month.  Tea recipe here..

I normally leave my cuttings in pots for at least 5 or 6 months before replanting them back in the ground.  This process is unique as some cuttings will be really healthy and others may dry up and go brown. Always seek healthy stems and new growth for transplanting and once you remove the plant from the container inspect for roots prior to planting in the ground.

To learn more about specific plants I’ve successfully propagated through cuttings enjoy the following posts.

How to Propagate Lemon Balm

Propagate with Creepers

When I first started propagating creeper plants also known as off shoots I was a little nervous because it felt like I was planning an attack on what was a beautiful lush plant.  For the most part I was on attack because the goal is to remove parts from the base without destroying the main plant.  There are two ways you can do this.

  • Dig up the entire plant and divide it.
  • Dig out part of the plant but cutting out a section and leaving the rest in the soil.

Both styles are invasive and can burden the development of the entire plant. There’s a few things to detour weakness; they include the following.

  • Make sure the soil is moist – water really good hours or the night before.
  • Propagate early morning or later in the evening.
  • Make sure to avoid direct sunlight if at all possible when you divide.
  • Make sure you have a bucket of water nearby for soaking roots.

Whether you’re digging up the entire plant or cutting in the process needs to be quick especially while the roots are exposed. Make sure you can finish in the same setting prior to digging.  The smaller separated pieces can be soaked in the water bucket while containers are being filled with soil.

After the plants are in pots or relocated to a new location in the garden make sure their recovery time is in the shade.  This is easy to do if you’re transplanting in containers.  The benefit of the shade is to keep the plant from wilting.  Many times, this can’t be avoided and it may take up to 48 hours for the plant to completely recovery.  Delicate plants may need to be trimmed back so new growth can surface.

In Closing

Wow! That’s a lot of information and if that sounds like a lot of work I’ve got another tip, take cuttings from these plants and let them root in a glass of water.  The disadvantage is the main plant continues to send off shoots so digging it up or part of it is really a better option.  I propagated day lilies last year and at the time thought I ruined the plant.  Fast forward they look amazing and they’re still in containers,  read here.

This entire process should be comfortable for the plant by providing a non-stressful environment.  Temperature, shade and fertilized soil are the key elements I’ve incorporated to optimize propagation and I’ve honestly had a 90% success rate which is really neat. It’s my hope this information has been helpful and a lesson for learning you can apply to your own garden space. If you have additional questions or tips of your own to share please do so in the comments below.

 

How to Propagate the Garden with these easy tips

 

6 comments

  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    Lots of great propagation tips here. I personally think it’s fun to try and regrow many plants from cuttings and divisions etc… Sometimes they don’t work due to weather etc… but more than often they do and it’s so rewarding too. I hope your readers give it a try.

    1. Carole says:

      I agree it’s super fun and now I have a nice batch of plants I can take with me to the new property. Thanks for your encouragement Patti. Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Courtney says:

    Great info, Carole! I am actually planning to do this with sage this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Carole says:

      Hey Courtney – that’s awesome! I’m taking three new sage plants with me to the new garden using this method. that main plant those it’s still going to be difficult to leave behind. Enjoy the weekend!

  3. Karen says:

    Propagating is definitely rewarding. For me, it’s been a trial-and-error process and I’ve learned a lot. If I could share a tip, I’d say: Be patient!
    A couple of weeks ago I had to trim a goji berry plant my son had given me. It was thriving, but threatened to take over the entire area. I clipped a lot of limbs, and also found a separate root section. I potted up the root section, but instead of throwing out the limbs I had trimmed, decided to pot them up and see if they would root (I did use a hormone powder on these). I watered them all deeply, set them in the shade, and waited. Within a couple of days I was comfortable that the plant with roots would continue to thrive. The trimmings, however were looking terrible. I made a mental note to toss them out, but days passed and I kept forgetting. Then a wonderful thing happened. New little green leaves began to appear along the stems right between the dry, brown leaves. A few of the stems had rooted!
    They’re all still sitting there – the trimmings that are growing green leaves as well as the ones all brown and apparently dead. I’ll eventually pull out the dead ones and find a place in my yard for a few more goji berry plants! Patience (or maybe forgetfulness) pays off! 🙂

    1. Carole says:

      Yes patience is huge!! I was also reading some where that you can use cinnamon to enhance root growth from cuttings. I may try that on a few rose stems I want to nab, later this week perhaps. Thanks for sharing your experience this is encouraging.

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